Removing Stains from Egyptian Cotton Sheets
Q. How can I remove body soils from 100% egyptian cotton sheets? Will Clorox bleach harm the sheets by aging them faster?
A. Thanks for the great question; it’s a common myth that bleach is hard on fabrics, and I’m happy to debunk it by answering your second question first. No, laundering with Clorox® Regular-Bleach will not cause Egyptian cotton textiles to age faster or wear out sooner. Egyptian cotton is special because its fibers are longer than most other cotton fibers, producing stronger yarns and fabrics. In general, cotton fabrics naturally deteriorate just from wearing, washing, and drying; using bleach doesn’t accelerate this effect, regardless of the length of the cotton fiber. We have examined this extensively, evaluating a wide variety of white items commonly bleached: socks, underwear, t-shirts, towels, bed sheets, dress shirts and even baseball pants. Items were washed and dried 50 times, and we found no significant difference in fabric strength between items washed with detergent and those washed in detergent and liquid bleach. I don’t know if you had a chance to review any of the videos on the blog, but there is one that specifically addresses this, “Debunking the Myths about Bleach” at http://www.drlaundryblog.com/?page_id=274. It also demonstrates how to use bleach safely as directed on the label, which relates to your first question: what’s the best way to remove body soils from your sheets? Assuming they are white, I recommend using the hottest water possible, and adding ¾ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach along with your detergent. However, if they are colored, then I would do a quick bleachability test to confirm the color is bleach fast: add 2 tsp liquid bleach to ¼ cup water, apply a drop to a hidden area (for bed sheets I like to test the hem that gets tucked in at the foot of the bed) and blot dry—no color change means the sheets can be safely bleached. If the sheets don’t pass the bleachability test, then I would add Clorox2® Stain Fighter and Color Booster along with your detergent, and wash them in the hottest water possible. Thanks for writing, and please let me know if you have any further questions.