How to Soften Sheets

Jun 24, 2023

Softening your sheets is a simple process that involves finding the right laundry soap and doing a few extra things in the wash. Laundry soaps that contain enzymes or softeners can help soften sheets, but they should always be followed up with another step. After you've washed your sheets once with detergent, you'll have to consider other methods if they're still stiff. Here are some tried-and-true ways to soften your sheets:

What Makes Sheets Stiff?

There are several factors that can make your sheets feel stiff:

  • The cotton fibers in the sheets. As you sleep and move around on the bed, the cotton fibers of your sheets will rub against each other, which causes friction that makes them stiff.
  • Natural oils from your skin. When you sweat or get hot while you’re sleeping, these natural oils build up on your skin and also contribute to making sheets feel stiff as well.
  • Detergents used for washing clothes can build up on fabrics over time, causing them to feel rough and stiff when touched by people who have dry skin or allergies because detergents contain chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate that irritate some people’s skin when they come into contact with it repeatedly over time (especially if they have sensitive skin).

How to Soften Sheets?

  • Use a fabric softener. You can use your favorite scent of fabric softener, or you can choose unscented if you want the sheets to smell like nothing at all.
  • Use baking soda or vinegar, and then line dry your sheets. Adding baking soda or white vinegar to your wash cycle is another way of softening sheets; line drying will help them get extra fluffy while they're still wet, which will also help reduce wrinkles.
  • Wash multiple times, with hot water if possible (and no detergent). Line drying is preferable when possible because it saves energy and helps clothes last longer before needing replacement—but if that's not an option for you right now (or even after all these other tips), just make sure that any time you're washing your sheets that they go through at least two cycles with hot water in order to get them as clean as possible!

Baking Vinegar or Soda

  • Add 1 cup of vinegar to the wash.
  • If your sheets are already soft, you can try a more diluted solution: instead of 1 cup, use half a cup instead.
  • For extra softness, add baking soda as well. Use one-quarter cup baking soda and then add in some vinegar. This will help to soften your sheets while also removing any odors that may be lingering on them from sleeping on them for days at a time!
  • Leave your sheet set to soak in hot water for 30 minutes before washing it normally with other clothes (and remember not to put anything with buttons or zippers into the washing machine!).

Fabric Softener

To soften your sheets, you'll first need to decide what type of fabric softener you want to use. If your sheets are made with 100% cotton, then standard liquid detergents will be fine. However, if the sheets have been made with synthetic fibres like polyester or acrylics, then a special product such as Downy Unstopables may be necessary.

Line Dry

Line drying sheets is a great way to soften them, because it allows the fibers of the fabric to relax and increases their absorbency. To line dry sheets:

  • Hang the sheet in an open area with good air circulation. If you don't have a clothesline or drying rack, you can hang your sheets on a balcony or porch railing—just be sure to secure them so they don't blow away!
  • Line drying works best when done in direct sunlight during warm weather (above 50 degrees F). If it's too cold outside for sun exposure, try hanging your linens indoors by an open window where there's plenty of fresh air circulating around them. You might also consider using an indoor clothesline if you live in a small space without much ventilation or heaters that will keep linens warm enough for proper drying (and possibly damage from UV light exposure).


Detergents are surfactants, or amphiphilic molecules. They have a hydrophilic head and lipophilic tail, which allows them to be used in water. The hydrophilic heads interact with water and break down the surface tension of water, allowing for wetting and cleaning.

Dryer Balls

Dryer balls are a simple, cost-effective way to soften your sheets. They are woolen or cotton fabric balls that you toss into the dryer with your laundry to reduce drying time and soften clothes. They also can help reduce wrinkles and static cling by adding some extra friction when the clothes tumble around in the dryer.

Wash Multiple Times

When you're looking to soften sheets, it's recommended that you wash them twice. If this is not enough, try washing them a second time with vinegar or baking soda. If even that isn't enough, try washing them a third time with detergent and borax (a laundry booster).


Borax is a natural mineral that is typically used as a laundry booster. It can also be used as a natural fabric softener, and it’s safe to use in the washing machine.


Salt is a natural softener, so it can be used to help soften your sheets. You will need:

  • A bathtub or large plastic container
  • 1 cup of salt (any kind)


As you can see, there are many different ways to soften sheets. It all depends on what type of fabric you have, how much time you have, and your budget. Most people who want soft bedding will choose to go with a detergent that can be added to their regular wash routine so that they don’t have to spend hours prepping their sheets before putting them in the dryer or line-drying them outside during winter months when temperatures drop below freezing point!

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