Wednesday, April 22, 2009

how to extend the life of your linens- oxygen bleach and air drying

Use oxygen bleach and line-drying to greatly extend the life of your sheets. At linoto we sell 100% flax linen sheets, curtains, napkins, and bath towels, but this information is useful for cotton items as well. Any reference to "linens" in this post refers to flax linen or cotton.

Everyone loves crisp, clean white linens. But if you've ever used chlorine bleach regularly, eventually your linens become yellow, brittle, and begin to tear or fray. That's because chlorine bleach is caustic and weakens the fabric. Chlorine bleach is also a very strong irritant to the skin.

How to use oxygen bleach:
The best way to safely whiten your linen sheets or cotton sheets is oxygen bleach, an environmentally safe alternative to chlorine bleach. Oxygen bleach works very well and doesn't damage the fabric with repeated uses. Oxygen bleach is only recommended for white linens. Use rubber gloves. Direct skin contact with oxygen bleach isn't recommended and it will dry out your hands! First, fill a tub with just enough warm water to cover the sheets, pour in a generous amount of oxygen bleach (approximately 1 cup for a large load of whites). The oxygen will create a foamy bath. Be sure the crystals are fully dissolved before you put the sheets in. Submerge the sheets completely, stirring occasionally. The trick here is patience. Soak your sheets for 12-24 hours for best results. The longer they soak, the better. One of the great benefits of oxygen bleach is that it's very difficult to damage your white sheets because it doesn't destroy the fibers as chlorine bleach does. Rinse and wash in the washing machine as usual. This process also works in the washing machine and is especially easy if you're able to pause the wash cycle.

Where to buy oxygen bleach:
You can find oxygen bleach in most grocery stores. You'll save time and money when you buy bulk quantities online. I prefer Oxy-Boost brand. You can purchase Oxy-Boost online at

How to air dry your linens:
The drying machine drastically shortens the life of your bedding. The combination of hot, dry air and tumbling will quickly destroy even the most durable and beautiful fabrics. Traditional dryers also consume large amounts of gas and/or electricity. If you must use the dryer, set the heat to low heat or no heat. The worst thing you can do is leave your linens in the dryer until they are bone dry.

The trick to air-drying is to let gravity do the work. After the final spin cycle is complete, neatly hang the wet linens over a railing, shower curtain rod, or clothes line (folding them in half if necessary). Gravity will remove the big wrinkles. Remember to hang the linens neatly as they will dry in whatever state you hang them.

In some cases it may be useful to first dry the sheets in the dryer for 3-5 minutes on the lowest heat setting to re-orient the fibers and remove excess lint before you begin the air-drying process.

I hope this info helps you. If you have additional tips please share them with us.
If you're skeptical about the environmental soundness of oxygen cleaning products do your own research. I found an interesting post from someone trying to learn more about oxygen bleach.