Can You Wash Sheets and Towels Together?

Hands placing sheets and towels on top of a bed

The Spruce / Adelyn Duchala

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to 10

The internet has exploded with theories and advice on whether sheets and towels can be washed together. We're here to give you the answer. Sheets and towels can definitely be washed together with good results if you follow a few tips. Simply group the sheets and towels by like fabrics and colors, and you can wash both together.

You'll have to separate your laundry correctly, but it is better to wash sheets and towels together than to never wash them separately at all. Learn the tricks of how to do laundry correctly to keep your sheets and towels fresh, clean, and looking great.

Detergent Enzyme-based laundry detergent
Water Temperature Cold to Warm
Cycle Type Normal or Permanent Press
Drying Cycle Type Medium-high heat
Special Treatments Sort according to types of fabric
Iron Settings Depends on type of fabric

How Often to Wash Sheets and Towels

We spend about one-third of our life in bed, creating ample opportunities for soil to deposit on our sheets. Bed sheets should be washed at least every two weeks, more often if the sleeper does not wear pajamas, sweats heavily, or does not bathe before bed.

If you hang your bath towel to dry after every use, it should be washed after three uses. If left in a crumpled heap on the floor, after every use. Hand towels should be washed at least every other day and washcloths after each use.

Before You Begin

The reason this topic has become a discussion is that the fibers used to manufacture sheets and towels have changed. For decades, all sheets and towels were made from 100 percent cotton or linen. Now, sheets and towels are made from synthetic microfibers, bamboo, eucalyptus, silk, and blends as well as cotton. Natural fibers shed lint each time they are washed. Synthetic fibers attract lint. So, if natural and synthetic fibers are washed together it can leave fabrics with pilling.

Once upon a time, all sheets and towels were white. Now they are offered in every color, some of which are created with unstable dyes that can result in color bleeding. Towels have gotten thicker, larger, and heavier while some sheets have become a silkier, lighter weight than basic cotton sheets.

The key to successful washing is to read care tags and sort the laundry correctly before you begin.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 washer
  • 1 automatic dryer, clothesline, or drying rack
  • 2 to 4 wool dryer balls

Materials

  • 1 enzyme-based laundry detergent

Instructions

Materials needed for washing sheets and towels

The Spruce / Adelyn Duchala

  1. Read the Care Labels

    Always take the time to read the care labels on sheets and towels to determine fiber content. The labels will also give you instructions on what water and drying temperatures are best as well as information on safe bleaching techniques.

    Reading the care label on a towel

    The Spruce / Adelyn Duchala

  2. Sort Dirty Sheets and Towels by Type of Fabric and Color

    Sort the dirty linen by type of fabric and place similar fibers together. Do not mix natural and synthetic fibers in wash loads.

    Sort again by color. Do not attempt to wash black towels with white sheets or your red sheets with white towels.

    Sorting sheets and towels by size and color

    The Spruce / Adelyn Duchala

  3. Sort by Weight of Fabric For Washing and Drying

    While thick cotton towels can be washed with cotton sheets, heavy towels should never be washed with more delicate fabrics like silk sheets. The rubbing action in the washer can cause excessive wear and damage lightweight fabrics.

    If you choose to wash heavy and lightweight fabrics together, it is best to sort them before tossing the wet laundry in an automatic dryer. A bed sheet is going to dry much more quickly than a heavy towel. Dry the sheets first, remove them from the dryer and toss in the towels with some wool dryer balls to keep the towel fibers light and fluffy.

    Sorting towels and sheets by weight and fabric

    The Spruce / Adelyn Duchala

  4. Use an Enzyme-Based Detergent for a Thorough Clean

    Using a good enzyme-based detergent is essential for removing body soil from sheets and towels. The enzymes are the components in detergent that break apart the soil molecules so they can be flushed away. If your sheets or towels smell stale after washing or storing for a couple of weeks, they aren't clean and you need to switch to a better cleaning detergent.

    Enzyme-based detergent sitting on top of a washing machine

    The Spruce / Adelyn Duchala

Tips to Keep Sheets and Towels Looking Their Best

  • Sort each load of laundry correctly.
  • Use a detergent with enough enzymes to effectively remove body soil.
  • Keep your washer clean.
  • Be sure the towels and sheets are thoroughly dry before folding and storing.
  • Consider having three sets of sheets and towels for each bed or person to help make sets last as long as possible. When used in a rotation—one set being used, one set in the closet, and one set in the wash—it gives the fibers time to recover between uses, extending the lifespan.
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. We spend about one-third of our life either sleeping or attempting to do so. National Library of Medicine.