A good night's sleep depends on the comfort of your bed, and rough bed sheets can leave you tossing and turning. Improper washing and care may be the culprit, or the cause of rough bed linens may be the type of sheets you have chosen. The higher the thread count, the softer the sheet, though high-thread count sheets can be expensive. If your sheets have a thread count of below 250, you'll need to give them some special care and attention to soften them.
Wash rough sheets on the hottest possible setting of your washing machine. When the sheets reach the soaking stage, open the lid and allow the sheets to soak for at least two hours. The longer sheets soak in water, the more the hot water will break down the fibers of your sheets and dull the coarse, scratchy fabric of rough bed sheets. While using extremely hot water will shorten the life of your sheets over time, the occasional hot wash will soften sheets without significantly compromising your linens.
Run sheets through an additional rinse cycle to remove any residue from detergents, as this buildup can give sheets a rough feeling. Between rinses, add a liquid fabric softener. Instructions will vary given the size of the load and the type of washing machine, so follow the directions for your chosen fabric softener carefully. For a budget-conscious and eco-friendly fabric softener, use up to one cup of distilled white vinegar. Add to the rinse cycle just as you would a commercial fabric softener.
Dry outdoors on a clothesline. While hot water will break down rough fibers, the heat of a dryer will stiffen fabrics. Hanging sheets to dry will eliminate wrinkles and result in a softer sheet. If line-drying your sheets is not possible, then use a dryer on a medium setting, and add a sheet of fabric softener to smooth out any lingering roughness.
Add ¼ cup of salt to the washing machine when adding your detergent to soften cotton sheets.