How to make your bedding last longer: Care and maintenance tips

We all know how important sleep can be and good quality, highly breathable bedding is half the battle. Pillows, duvets, sheets and a mattress, it all adds up pretty quickly. And once you’ve spent a chunk of money on your bedding you’ll want to look after it so it can last you for years to come.

If you’ve bought good quality bedding with quality natural fibres, a durable weave pattern and a high thread count, then your sheets should be able to last you well over 10 years, making them well worth the initial investment and ongoing care. If you don’t look after your bedding properly it will shorten the lifespan significantly. Even the strongest sheets need to be treated with respect!

There are many negative effects of not caring for bedding. Apart from the fact it won’t last as long if you don’t care for it properly, it may also get starchy, stiff, misshapen, stained or rather smelly. – all of which can affect your sleep, health and happiness.

Below we’ll look at all the possible aspects of caring for your bedding, from washing and drying to airing out, rotating and making your bed. Once you get yourself into a good routine you will reap the benefits of bedding care.

Tips for washing your bedding

Preparing to Wash

Before you bung all your dirties in the washing machine willy-nilly, take a step back and ask yourself a few simple questions. 

Have you checked for any tougher stains that need a pre-treatment?

If you spot hard to remove stains like mascara, make up or tea from that lovely morning cuppa, it’s a good idea to pre-treat them with a little detergent. Rub it into the fabric with your fingers to let the detergent get to work for at least 5 minutes before you switch the machine on. You can also use a little bit of gentle soap or a tiny dot of washing up liquid for this.

Have you separated your colours and different fabric types?

We all know what happens when a red socks ends up in the white wash but separating fabrics can be just as important as colours. Washing delicate fabrics or even smooth cottons with rougher fabrics like jeans or items with zips and hooks could catch or snag your bedding. So separate out your bedding from other items before you wash it.

Are you trying to fit too much in the drum? 

Overfilling the washing machine can mean your bedding won’t wash properly. The items should be able to move around so each section gets washed. They should ‘swim’ in the water.

How often should you wash your bedding? 

How often you wash your sheets depends on who’s sleeping in them, whether you sleep naked, sweat a lot and when you shower (first thing or right before bed). In general, it’s best to wash your sheets every week or two to help fight dust mites, bacteria, stains and smells. Once you get into a good rhythm it’s easy enough to keep up.

Choosing the right detergent

With all sorts of detergents, fabric softeners, scent balls, dryer balls and more, the laundry aisle in the supermarket can be quite overwhelming. But choosing detergent is important. If you use one that’s too strong you risk damaging the fibres of your bedding. If you use one that’s too gentle, you may not get the clean you’re after.

For natural fabrics like cotton and linen, it is better to choose a non-bio detergent as the enzymes in biological detergent can damage the fibres. Though with stronger fibres like cotton and linen, this would take a very long time. If you are finishing off a bottle of bio, don’t worry too much. But in the long run, it’s better to use non-bio. Non-bio can also be called ‘baby detergent’, ‘enzyme free’ or ‘for sensitive skin’.

Note: More delicate natural fibres like wool and silk are more sensitive to bio-detergents. But any fabrics made of cellulose (plant fibres like cotton, linen or bamboo) or protein (animal fibres like wool or silk) are at risk of damage.

How much detergent should I use? 

When washing bedding, the amount of detergent to use will depend on the product you are using, how much you are putting in and how dirty it is. It also depends on whether you have hard or soft water in your area, as you will find hard water needs more detergent.

It’s best to follow the guidelines on the box or bottle. If you are using powder, for example, you will usually use about 95ml for a 4-5 kg load in soft water. This goes up to 140ml if the load is extra dirty or 170ml if the load is 6kg or more and extra dirty.

Another good way of checking if you’ve used too much detergent is how soapy the load looks mid-wash. If it looks very foamy and white, you may have used too much!

Should I use fabric softener?

We don’t recommend using fabric softener as this can damage your bedding. Fabric softener works by leaving a layer of chemicals on your fabric which help it feel soft. These chemicals can damage it in the long run but if you prefer to use fabric softener, you can use a sparring amount on your cotton sheets.

Using the right water temperature

As you may have noticed when doing the washing up, hot water is very good at removing oils and helping you clean things thoroughly. The problem is, it can also damage the fibres of your bedding in the long run and lead to thinning or bobbling of the fabric. Washing with cold water is better for the longevity of your fabric but might not give you the clean you need. 

These days most detergents are designed to work effectively at low temperatures. So for linen and cotton bedding, washing at 30℃- 40℃ is a great middle ground. You get some warmth to help clean but won’t damage the fibres of your bedding. This temperature also uses less energy than a hot wash, making for a more eco-friendly habit.

Drying bedding

Before you put it back on your bed, it’s important to make sure all your bedding is fully dry. Damp bedding can lead to a buildup of bacteria which can make your bedding smelly. If you’ve ever left your wash in the machine for a few hours too many, you’ll know how unpleasant abandoned laundry smells can be.

To dry your bedding you can either line dry or tumble dry. For both linen and cotton bedding, tumble drying works well on low to medium heat. It is much easier and quicker than line drying, especially in the winter.

Avoid ‘over-drying’ your bedding by setting your tumble dryer to the correct time. Some tumble dryers have sensors that will stop the dryer once the clothes are dry. You may be able to choose different settings like “Iron Dry” and “Cupboard Dry” so that your clothes aren’t damaged by excessive drying. 

Another great tumble-drying hack is to use dryer balls. These clever little balls come in many different materials and work by preventing laundry from clumping together in the dryer. This improves air circulation which can also reduce drying time. Many people swear by dryer balls to help fight wrinkles and soften their laundry without the use of chemicals.

Rise & Fall top tip: Take the sheets out from the dryer 5 minutes before the end of the cycle. Give them a good shake and hang dry to finish. This will keep them from wrinkling and mean you don’t have to iron them. If you would still like to iron your sheets, do so at a low temperature.

Image of Rise & Fall bedding on a bed

Tips for maintaining your bedding

Making Your Bed Every Day

Making your bed every day isn’t just a good habit your parents taught you. By covering your sheets up you keep your bedding clean and minimise the area where dust (or pets!) can collect. You also keep your bedding in better shape by arranging it properly. Your sheets will be less wrinkled and your pillows and duvet will stay fluffed. It also looks tidy, more relaxing and much more inviting when you’re climbing into bed.

You don’t have to go all out with 100 layers of blankets and throw cushions. Simply line up and fluff your pillows (especially if they get very squashed in the night) and lay your duvet out neatly on top. You may want to cover the lot with a blanket, quilt or throw to finish off the look and keep your sheets protected.

Rotating Your Bedding

Rotation is an important part of bedding maintenance as it can really help prolong its life. For instance, rotating your mattress once or twice a year helps to keep the top layer of fillings evenly distributed. It also means that you'll use each side equally. The same can be said for rotating pillows (every night or so), duvets (every week or so), pillowcases and all your bedding. It's an easy way to improve their lifespan.

Using a Mattress Protector

Mattresses are pretty vital to our sleep. They’re not cheap and they’re well worth protecting.  A highly breathable organic wool mattress protector or slightly thicker mattress topper  is a great way of protecting it from general wear and tear and any bigger spills without affecting the quality of your sleep. In fact, organic wool is so good at thermoregulating, it actually helps keep you dry and comfortable during the night — whatever the weather.

How Often to Replace Your Bedding

Although it’s best practice to reduce, reuse, recycle, sometimes poor quality or damaged bedding can affect our sleep. Dust mites can also build up in your pillow, duvet and mattress, making them less hygienic and more prone to smelling over time. Look out for yellow stains and misshapen lumps that are signs your bedding needs to go.

Experts say it’s best to replace your duvet every 15 to 25 years, your mattress every 10 years or so, and your pillows every 3 years. And your sheets? Well that’s up to you but as long as they still feel soft and look good, they’re ok to stay. Of course, this is just a guide as it depends how often your bed is used and what your sleeping habits are like.

Air Out Your Bedding

Airing out bedding is especially important for the pieces that are harder to wash like your duvet, pillows and mattress. Airing it out regularly will help you combat moisture and dust mites that can gather in all your bedding, even your sheets.

To air out your bed, fold your duvet back so that it is folded in half or in thirds at the foot of your bed. This will allow your sheets and mattress to breathe. You may want to do this once a week or so. Some people like to do it every day.

Take the opportunity when changing your sheets to leave your mattress uncovered for a few hours and your duvet hanging over a door or chair — allowing it to breathe. You can also vacuum it at this point to get rid of any dust or dust mites, spot clean any small stains and freshen it up with baking soda.

Picture of the Rise & Fall fitted sheet in buttermilk

Specific Care Instructions for Different Types of Bedding

Cotton bedding care

Cotton bedding may be strong but it still needs the right care to make it last as long as possible. We recommend washing your sheets every week or two. With both our soft & smooth and crips & cool cotton bedding, you’ll find them getting softer and softer after each wash.

  • Separate your cotton bedding from your other laundry, as any rough fabrics, hooks or zips may cause it to catch
  • Use a small amount of mild detergent and a little fabric softener if desired
  • We recommend a gentle 40℃ or 30℃ cycle as this will help extend the life of your bedding and is more sustainable than a 50℃ wash
  • Tumble dry your cotton bedding on a low to medium heat and iron on medium
  • Try removing the sheets from the dryer 5 minutes before the cycle ends and hang drying to finish, to keep them from wrinkling

Linen bedding care

100% high-quality linen is made to last, and last. In fact, the longer you sleep in your linen sheets, the softer they’ll get, but that doesn’t mean they don’t require a little love and attention. Here are our top tips for linen bedding. 

  • Wash your sheets every 1-2 weeks
  • Wash at 40℃ or 30℃
  • Tumble dry on low heat as excessive heat can damage threads causing linen to become rough and scratchy
  • Iron on low-medium heat
  • Do not use fabric conditioner – this weakens the natural fibres of the yarn
  • Remove from the dryer whilst still the slightest bit damp and put directly onto your bed to finish drying flat to prevent creasing (or line dry for a crispier finish)
Image of Rise & Fall bedding set

Wool bedding care

Wool is a wonderful fibre that’s naturally hypoallergenic and hygienic as it is resistant to dust mites and the build-up of micro bacteria. Because of this your wool duvet and pillows don't need washing very often. In fact, the less you wash them the better the wool fibres will perform. Instead use the following tips to air out your wool items:

  • Regularly air out your duvet and pillows in a well ventilated room to keep them fresh
  • You can do this whenever you change your bed linen or once every few weeks
  • Hang the duvet up outside if the weather is dry, but if not, then pop it over a clothes airer or the top of a door or chair, near an open window for a few hours

If you feel you need to wash your wool duvet, then follow our Do’s and Don’ts to keep it soft and snuggly.

DO use only a 30℃ wool cycle.

DO use a washing liquid that is specially designed for wool (like Woolite or similar).

DO use a gentle spin dry to remove any excess water.

DO remove the duvet from the machine immediately after the cycle has finished.

DO gently reshape your duvet.

DO air dry your duvet on a line outside or over a clothes airer inside.

DON’T dry clean. Our duvets are 100% natural so why add chemicals that could leave a residue.

DON’T use any other type of detergent, except for one created specifically for wool.

DON’T tumble dry – this will shrink (or ‘felt’) the wool, which isn’t reversible.

Be cautious when taking your duvet to a laundry service. Some industrial machines don’t have the necessary 30℃ wool cycle that will stop your wool duvet from getting damaged. They may also use a general purpose ‘delicates’ detergent that isn’t suitable for wool. So, it’s best to double check with them first.

Down bedding care

Natural down-rich products like down duvets or pillows can be delicate. Over laundering can damage the down proof qualities of fabrics and will deteriorate the finish over time.  It will also cause excessive shrinkage of the fabric. Luckily they won’t need laundering too often as they are naturally breathable and quite resistant to mould and mildew. 

When you do need to wash your down duvet or pillows follow these simple steps:

  • Use a short wash cycle with minimum agitation
  • Wash at 30℃-40℃ with a non-bio detergent, to protect both the down clusters and the premium cotton case
  • Remove as much water as possible through high speed spinning or the use of a separate spinner / centrifuge
  • Tumble dry at a low temperature for an extended period to make sure all down clusters are allowed to fully dry and re-loft to recover their thermal qualities
  • Continue to dry well beyond the point at which it feels dry to the touch (all moisture from the core must evaporate)

Note: The duvet must have enough room to fully re-loft in the dryer drum and therefore at least 60% empty space must be available for the item to re-loft during the dry cycle. You may need to use a professional laundering service to get a washing machine and tumble dryer big enough. Natural down duvets can also be dry cleaned (using all solvents except tetrachloroethylenes). 

With regular care and the simple tips we have covered, you can prolong the life of your bedding and stop it feeling rough, misshapen, stained or smelly. There’s nothing worse than an uncomfortable mattress, bunching duvet and smelly pillow when all you want is a good night’s sleep. Careful washing, proper drying and regular airing will help your bedding last you for many years to come. All things considered, you won’t regret looking after it.

Image of Rise & Fall bedding on a bed