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Bedding care

If your resolution is to get more sleep, your’re on your way to being healthier and more alert. The bed is where you begin and end the day, and where you spend nearly a third of your life. So why not make it the cleanest, lovelist, and most comfortable spot in your home? Knowing the right way to wash, dry and store your bedding is essential to creating a soothing sleep environment.

Linens

How often you wash your sheets is a personal preference. In general, it's a good idea to launder them weekly to remove dirt and dust. Use warm water rather than hot, which can shrink fibers. Wash printed and colored pillowcases inside out to protect the color. If your sheets feature delicate trim, check the care label before washing.

Tumble dry sheets according to label instructions, and remove them before they're fully dry to help minimize wrinkles. To avoid mildew growth, make sure sheets are dry before storing them. If you have the time, ironing your sheets is a surefire way to make them feel new again.

Bed basics and protection

To protect pillows, encase them in pillow protectors (zippered covers that go under the cases). These covers keep allergens at bay while shielding pillows from hair and body oils, which can soak into the filling. Even with protectors, pillows should be washed at least twice a year; the covers, once a month (along with your mattress cover). Use mild liquid detergent rather than powder, which may leave a residue. Launder pillows in pairs to keep your machine balanced. Run them through the rinse cycle twice the second time without detergent, to ensure they're rinsed fully. For down and feathers: Use the air cycle or low-heat setting, and make sure pillows are completely dry. There shouldn't be any bunches of feathers -- since dampness left in the pillow may cause mold. High heat can encourage clumping in fibrefill pillows, so dry them on low heat. Your dryer will refluff pillows nicely.

Everyday upkeep: Plump pillows daily when you make your bed, to keep the filling from becoming flattened.

Most comforters should have a cover, which is much easier to clean and, like a pillow protector, helps shield allergy sufferers from a buildup of dust and dirt. It also guards against oils that can break down fabric and eventually cause filling to leak. Duvet covers should be washed weekly (monthly if you use a top sheet), but you won't have to wash the duvet itself unless you spill something on it. To reduce odor buildup, hang your comforter on a clothesline on a dry, breezy day every few months. You can fluff your comforter in the dryer, just as you would a pillow.