How to Wash Sheets and Organic Bedding

How to Wash Sheets and Organic Bedding

Organic Sheets:  How to Wash and Launder

Alterra Pure organic cotton percale sheets are tightly woven with a single ply yarn in a 1x1 traditional percale weave.  At a thread count of 310, these are very tightly woven sheets and won't shrink much at all.

But, because these sheets are so tightly woven, we recommend washing AND drying twice before use.  The reason:  cool and crisp heirloom percale will tighten up and become more crisp on the first wash, sometimes more than you'd like.  The percale weave starts to loosen back-up on the second wash and the sheets continue to become better and better as they age.

As Alterra Pure is a sustainability company, our laundering instructions are definitely biased toward a lower carbon footprint.  Laundering is the largest contributor to bedding's life-cycle green house gas footprint.  So, when we discuss how to wash sheets and organic bedding, we'll definitely add some eco-tips.  

WASH:  We recommend to wash on normal cycle, use an eco-friendly detergent.  Our sheets may be washed in any temperature, but we recommend cold for the lowest environmental impact.  Liquid detergents work better in cold water as they are already dissolved, powder is better in warm and hot washes.  Approximately 75% of the energy needed in a load of laundry goes to heating water, so washing in cold is a great way to reduce environmental impact.  Wash with like colors or better yet, wash sheets separately.

DRY:  Best way to dry - line drying because it reduces wrinkles and has the lowest carbon footprint.  If using a dryer, we recommend to dry on medium heat.  Best way is to dry until there is just a bit of dampness remaining, remove from dryer and IRON.  If you do not wish to iron, remove promptly and promptly re-apply to bed or fold to minimize wrinkles.  Percale Sheets will wrinkle.  Organic Percale Sheets will wrinkle more - organic uses no toxic, anti-wrinkle treatments.  Wrinkled sheets are the new luxury.

STAINS:  if a bio-based stain (food, sweat, etc.), use an enzyme pre-treatment as a natural way to reduce or eliminate stains.  Enzyme based stain removers use  bio-based enzymes to remove stains naturally.  Some of the enzymes they use include:

  • protease (degrades protein based soils)
  • amylase (degrades starch and carb based stains)
  • cellulase (open up cotton fibers to release stains)
  • lipase (degrade fat based stains and soils)
  • mannanase (degrade food based stains)
  • perctinase (degrades fruit based stains 

Some examples of Enzyme based stain removers include Biokleen's Bac-Out or Attitude Baby Stain Remover.

For whites, use an oxygen whitener such as Nellies or Seventh Generation is best.

WILL ORGANIC COLORS FADE?:  Our sheets are color fast for washing.  But, all textile colors will fade over time,  depending upon frequency of laundering and exposure to sunlight.  Alterra Pure sheets are certified organic and we only use organic certified, non-toxic mordants (mordants are what binds the dye to the cotton fiber).  Organic colors will fade over time, just as conventional cotton sheets.  GOTS organic certified mordants are only allowed if low-impact on water, biodegradable, and contain no metallic salts.  Specific measures include the biodegradable and carbon oxygen demands (BOD/COD), biodegradability (OECD standards), and contain no harmful or toxic chemicals (metallic salts are specifically prohibited)


When we seek information on specific laundry products, we consult with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) webpage.  EWG maintains a database of products and rates the eco-friendly rating for each product.  EWG has extensive reviews on laundry products.  You can link here:  EWG Laundry Product Database.