How Long You Should Expect Your Linens to Last
When investing in a new set of sheets or towels, it’s normal to wonder how long they’ll stay in their best condition. After all, you buy these items for regular use, and there are few household items that go through as many wash cycles as bedding, bath, and table fabrics, either. pillowcases, washcloths or table cloth.
If you refine a few key regular practices, you will ensure they will last for years to come. Some brands make it easier – linens, towels and more from Linger Home are made from high quality, sustainably sourced materials like French linen, organic cotton and Supima cotton grown in the USA, which can put yourself ahead of the starting line when it comes to care. (Bonus: their products are also Oeko-Tex certified, which means they’ve been tested to make sure there aren’t a dangerous level of chemicals.)
By following the guidelines our Good Housekeeping experts rely on, you ensure your textiles stay in pristine condition, making daily routines a little smoother.
In the bedroom
Sheets and pillowcases
Typical lifespan: two to three years
How to help them last longer: Having the most welcoming linens possible is the key to evening relaxation and a good night’s sleep.
“From a construction standpoint, consider replacing your sheets if they start to look thin,” says Lexie Sachs, textile director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Sheets tear over time, especially with the friction of movement and turning. She also notes that torn hems and fading are obvious signs that new leaves should be on your horizon. “If they start to feel rough, maybe it’s time to replace them.”
Having two (or, ideally, three) different sets to go through will also help extend the life of your sheets, while washing them once a week. “Some people don’t change their sheets for a long time and it’s really not good,” says Carolyn Forte, director of the cleaning lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. She points out that pillowcases are especially prone to makeup stains and sweat. “Sheets and pillowcases hold all of these skin cells, so it’s important to wash them every one to two weeks.”
Quilts and quilts
Typical lifespan: 5 to 15 years
How to help them last longer: Quilts and quilts can have a long lifespan if you rotate them during the summer months for a lighter blanket or quilt, but their longevity also depends on the type of filling material used.
Alternative down Duvet inserts are less expensive and great for people with allergies to down or feathers, but they should be replaced once they start to lose their shape. Goose down tends to retain its plush construction well, but it’s generally warmer than the down alternative, making a summer bedding swap pretty much a given. With both types, look for a duvet insert that uses a “baffle box” construction.
“The construction of the baffle box involves placing individual pieces of fabric in the comforter boxes in order to prevent the filling from shifting,” Sachs explains. “Otherwise, the filling can clump together easily.”
Preventing lumps is also essential when washing and drying quilts and comforters. “Make sure you use a large capacity washing machine and the“ bedding ”cycle, if your machine has one, because if [the duvet] is crowded, there will be friction, which means there will be abrasion, ”notes Forte. And when it comes to drying those cozy staples, it’s important to inflate them as fully as possible, especially those in the down variety. “You want to make sure your down is as dry and fluffy as possible because it will insulate you better,” she says.
Duvet and pillow protectors can also help extend the life of your bedding by adding an extra line of defense between the plush interior material and the exterior elements.
In the kitchen
Typical lifespan: one year
How to help them last longer: “Tea towels will not be of the same type of construction as bath towels, ”Sachs says. “They’re a little less absorbent.” And while that means they dry faster than bath towels, the downside is that they should be replaced more frequently.
Forte recommends keeping a tea towel specifically for drying dishes and one just for drying your hands, turning the towel as often as a towel in the bathroom. Dish towels, on the other hand, which come into contact with food particles when scrubbing dirty dishes, should be washed as often as possible to prevent odor penetration (ideally every day or every other day).
In the bathroom
Bath towels and hand towels
Typical lifespan: two to four years
How to help them last longer: Loose fibers, fraying around the edges of the towel, and loss of absorption are all signs it’s time to replace your towels with a new set.
“Most bath towels have cotton loops that make them really full and absorbent,” Sachs says. “If the loops start to unravel so that you see stringy pieces of the towel, or if the hems around it are unraveling, these are signs of wear.”
And while towels are extremely adept at drying human bodies, they do not dry out so quickly on their own. If left in a pile on the floor or not hung up for airing after a shower or bath, they are at risk of developing mold, mildew and other bacteria which contribute to a shorter towel life and some musty smells. Forte recommends using a towel rack to hang used towels instead of a hook (this helps them air out faster), and points out that the faster you can lift and dry a towel, the cooler it will stay.
Using the right laundry techniques can also do wonders for the longevity of bathroom textiles. Bath towels should be washed at least every three or four uses, while towels and washcloths should be washed and turned more frequently. Wash towels in lukewarm to hot water, sometimes using fabric softener. (Avoid using it in every load as it tends to coat fibers and trap hard water minerals, making towels stiff.)
If your towels seem more itchy than soft, a vinegar wash can help them regain their normal, comfortable feel. Add half a cup of vinegar to the wash cycle and half a cup of vinegar to the rise cycle – no detergent – the next time you put in a load, and it should do the trick.
In the dining room
Napkins and tablecloths
Typical lifespan: 10 years or more (potential inheritance!)
How to help them last longer: Napkins, tablecloths and runners can last a lifetime, with well-preserved versions frequently passed down from generation to generation. But stains are still a threat to the longevity of table textiles.
“When a spill happens on your towels or tablecloths, be sure to mop them up right away – get there as quickly as possible,” says Forte. “Then don’t let it sit in the hamper or laundry basket for a week, just wash it quickly.”
When a stain incident occurs with guests and you can’t exactly grab their towel and run around in the middle of dinner, have your washing machine double duty as a soaking station after everyone is gone. . “Use your washing machine to soak towels or tablecloth to prevent stains from hardening. Then it will be easier to take it off when you have time to wash it, ”says Forte.
Aside from stains, how often you wash your towels depends on how often and how they are used. Cloth napkins that are used primarily for decorative purposes may not need to be washed after every meal, but it goes without saying that any napkin that has touched someone’s mouth, nose, or face should be washed immediately.
Apply a anti stain Tablecloths can also help it withstand any potential red wine disaster before it happens, keeping your dining room centerpiece in pristine condition for years to come.
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