White bed linen is always seen as the classic and elegant solution to create a beautiful bedroom whether modern or traditional, though if you share your bed with someone that’s a ‘hot sleeper’ you will no doubt, be familiar with perspiration that causes your lovely white pillowcases and sheets to yellow.

Even though the cotton fabric has been tested by the mill and passed for acceptable changes in whiteness caused by perspiration, sunlight or other factors, this annoying colour change still cannot totally be prevented.

Thank goodness all is not lost. You can effectively return your sheets and pillowcases to their original whiteness.

Today it might be hard to believe the troubles one used to go to retain that enviable crisp white, fresh linen look. Our grandmother’s sheets were wonderfully white and fresh, you could say dazzling!

On laundry day Grandma could be found in a steamy wash house stirring a sudsy boiling cauldron. A laborious task. Firstly, chopping kindling, setting the fire to heat the water and filling the copper with water from a rain tank. 

Grandma would stir the boiling washing for some time with a wooden poker, and once the wash stage was complete, using the same poker, she would then lift one by one the items from the copper into a tub of cold water.

From here the washing was pummelled to release the soap suds, then wrung and placed into a second tub of clean water where the process started again.

In a third tub of clean water a blue bag was swished around until the right level of blueness was achieved. The wrung-out wash was then transferred to this blue bath. Stirred around, wrung out again and finally pegged onto an outdoor clothes line strung between two trees. Grandma always set her whites to dry in the sun. Needless to say, the weather was quite important for the day’s marathon to succeed. 

This was the ritual for most women of the time but the boiling cauldron sure resulted in a magnificent whiteness. How wonderfully fresh Grandma’s sheets smelt and felt and was one of the joys of a sleep over at her house.

We diverge…now back to our yellowing problem, which we promise is far easier to remedy than undertaking a grandma styled wash.

The good news is yellowing can be removed by a simple process that will return your whites to white, so they look new and crisp. All you need are a few
household ingredients that you probably have sitting in your pantry and laundry to do the trick, so no steamy wash house, no expensive chemicals and no bleaches required.…here's how.


¼ cup dishwashing liquid
½ cup baking soda
½ cup white vinegar

Select the hottest wash cycle for your machine as using hot water is far more successful at removing stains than warm or cold water. Add the baking soda to the washing machine’s drum, the white vinegar to the softener dispenser and the dishwash liquid to the detergent dispenser. (It is important that the ingredients are kept separate so please do not premix the baking
soda and vinegar as this action will negate the whitening effect). When ready put your pillowcases and sheets in the washing machine and start your wash.

An alternative method is to pre-soak the bedding in a bucket of very hot water (the water level should be enough so that the items will remain covered), that has had the detergent and baking soda added. Soak several pillowcases together or one sheet, do not overcrowd. Move the items around from time to time ensuring items are completely submerged. After about an hour drain and squeeze out the water and place items in your washing machine. Add your regular amount of washing detergent to the dispenser along with the white vinegar to the softener department and wash as normal.

Dry as you usually would. Line drying does have the added benefit of utilizing the UV rays of sunshine to help whiten your linen as well as leaving you linen less wrinkled.

Who's going to try this recipie, let us know how you got on!

February 02, 2023 — Flaxfield Linen

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