Waxy finish on cotton pillowcases - how to undo?

gweb2012September 10, 2012

Our cotton poplin pillowcases have developed a stiff and "waxy" feeling to them.

We have two such sets, and they're interchanged and washed every week, and used for maybe eight months a year, and we've had them for maybe three years. These are 100% cotton.

I'd presume that it's our normal oils from our scalp and hair that are doing this. But it's never happened with our 100% cotton flannel pillowcases, which we use, wash, and put back on the bed every week for the four winter months. And it never happens with the sheets that match the "waxy" pillowcases.

I'm less concerned with the cause than with the cure though. What might I do to treat the pillowcases to remove the "wax" and possibly prevent the problem from occurring again?

They're washed in cold water, with regular Tide and no fabric softener, and dried in an electric drier with moisture sensor.

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The only culprit I can think of is cold water and/or the amount of detergent you use.

Which Tide? Liquid or Powder? - I read somewhere that the liquid supposedly has a plastic type polymer in it to keep it fluid or something weird like that.

Also, how much detergent are you using? The debate on how much to use has been in the range from 1 teaspoon all the way up to the full amount recommended for a specific load size.

I personally have switched to Tide Powder and use the recommended amount for the load size specified; no second rinse and no fabric softener of any kind and have recently noticed that my clothes are coming out just a bit softer and smelling cleaner (towels don't seem to sour as fast). I don't know, that's a whole different story but I suspect it's just a buildup of oils from scalp and hair and the dryer is kind of like baking into the fabric making kind of like wax layer like you might get with some dryer sheets used in a dryer which is too hot...

If you have any further events, feel free to post them and let us know and maybe we can help more :-)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 9:31PM
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I think the cold water is the largest problem. Scalp oils, hair products, perspiration., etc., leave our pillowcases in a different state than the sheets, especially in summer.

I always wash bed linens in HOT water. Hot water dissolves oil, grease, etc. much better.

Winter won't leave as much perspiration and body oil (dry skin from heated home) so perhaps that is why your flannel pillowcases are in better shape.

Try a true HOT wash and see if that helps. It might take a few wash cycles, but you should see a difference.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 9:48PM
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You might try soaking them in a pan or sink in hot water with blue Dawn dish detergent before putting them in the washer. This might help remove the build up.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 12:15AM
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Thanks for the suggestions. It's regular Tide powder that I use, and a common thread of replies has been that I should be using hot water wash. So that I shall, and we'll see what happens.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 8:17AM
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I agree with everyone else here. Cotton sheets should be washed in hot water. It may take more than one wash to un-do years of cold water washing....

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 5:19PM
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try soaking the items in Dawn detergent for a couple of hours, drain the water, add HOT water, and hand wash them (wear heavy rubber gloves so that you can stand the HOT water) for a bit, then rinse them thoroughly. put them in the washer with detergent of your choice (hot water) and add vinegar to the rinse cycle. Get back to me with results.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 7:13PM
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