Wash sheets separately from towels or other clothing. This gives the sheets more room to circulate in the water, which means they'll get cleaner. Washing sheets alone also prevents damage caused by zippers and other fasteners, and it reduces the amount of pilling that can happen over time.
Always pretreat stains before laundering sheets. Avoid using bleach on bed linens as it can damage the fabric. If you need to brighten white sheets, add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the wash water instead of bleach. Use a mild detergent for cotton and cotton-polyester-blend sheets. Special fabrics such as linen and silk may require a specialized detergent.
If your washing machine features a center agitator, loosely form each sheet into a ball before dropping it into the tub. This strategy will reduce the damage that can be caused by sheets coming into contact with the agitator.
Use a gentle wash cycle and cool or lukewarm water. Remove the sheets as soon as the cycle is over to reduce wrinkles. Shaking the sheets out before placing them in the dryer can also reduce wrinkles.
When possible, dry sheets on an outside clothesline but out of direct sun. If drying in the clothes dryer, use a low heat setting to minimize damage from high temperatures.
Remove the sheets from the dryer as soon as the cycle is over, and fold them, smoothing wrinkles with your hands. If wrinkles have set, dry the sheets for an additional five minutes with a damp towel tossed into the mix to add moisture. Avoid ironing the sheets if possible because that kind of heat can damage the fibers.