Things You'll Need
Leaving freshly washed sheets in the washing machine for hours or days may cause them to smell musty. Dry them as soon as possible to avoid musty odors in the laundry and in the washing machine.
Spritz a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water on soiled sheets if unable to do laundry the same day they are removed from the bed. The vinegar may help remove some of the odor in advance. Sprinkle baking soda on them in the laundry hamper as an alternative to the vinegar.
If you have an outdoor clothesline, hang the sheets out to dry in the sun. This also gives sheets a fresh-air smell. Toss in the dryer for a few minutes to soften the sheets and remove any wrinkles after drying outside.
Sheets need room to move in the machine, otherwise they won't come out clean. Wash in small loads, even if that means washing just one sheet or sheet set at a time.
Skip fabric softeners and dryer sheets -- these items leave behind an oil-like residue that makes the sheets somewhat water resistant, which means they'll come out of the wash without being completely clean.
Body odor is a surprising beast that may show up in places you wouldn't expect, such as on the bed sheets. Sweat happens as we sleep or rest in bed, creating a funky, less-than-fresh smell in the sheets that may not come entirely by washing them with the usual methods. Remedy the situation with a vinegar soak and rinse to ensure the sheets come out clean and body odor free.
Place the smelly sheets in the washing machine. Select a soak cycle, filling the machine with the hottest water recommended on the care tag. Use enough water to cover the sheets. If the sheets take up the entire inside area of the washing machine, wash only one at a time -- the material needs room to move during the wash cycle in order to be cleaned.
Add one cup of white vinegar to the hot water, swishing it around a bit to mix it in. Allow the sheets to soak for at least 30 minutes.
Select the spin cycle to drain out the water, leaving the sheets inside. Choose the wash cycle and temperature recommended for the sheets, adding your favorite laundry detergent. Use the amount of detergent recommended on the detergent packaging.
Add one cup white vinegar to the washing machine as it fills for the final rinse cycle. Allow the sheets to finish the rinse cycle and remove them after the final spin cycle completes.
Place the sheets in the dryer and dry them completely using the setting recommended on the sheets' care tag. Do not add fabric softener or dryer sheets to the load. Remove the sheets once dry.
- New York Magazine: When Your Spring Wardrobe Smells Like Last Summer's Sweat
- The Washington Post: Heloise: Tainted Towels
- One Good Thing by Jillee: A Simple Fix for Smelly Towels
- Lubbock Online: Heloise: Try These Tips to Help Get Body Odor Out of Your Laundry
- Real Simple: How to Keep Towels Smelling Fresh
- David Suzuki Foundation: Green Cleaning Recipes
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.