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Making The Most Of White Sales

If you know shopping, you know January is "white sale" time, when you can get great buys on sheets, towels and lots of other items for your home. And they don't even have to be white!

On The Saturday Early Show, Laura Dellutri, "The Healthy Housekeeper," offered a guide to those January white sale bargains, telling what to look for, and how to care for the things you scoop up.

January white sales are going on in stores everywhere. And while you may be enticed by the word "sale," you still need to know how to shop for good linens, to take full advantage of the opportunities stores present you with.

In 1878, John Wanamaker of Philadelphia department store fame decreed January to be the time for a "white sale." Bed linens, which were available in white only, were sold at a discount. It's believed he might have done so to keep linen makers in business during a slow time of year.

It wasn't until the late 1950s that prints, as well as colored sheets, were also included in January white sales. White sales also include blankets, bedspreads, sheets, towels and washcloths, kitchen towels, etc.

Watch for the great sales and, while you are at it, organize the shelves in the linen closet, the bathrooms, and the kitchen drawers! Heck, it's cold outside; why not make the inside warm and inviting?

What should people look for when shopping for linens?

  • Thread count: Note that the higher the thread count, the higher the quality of the sheet. Sheets range in thread count from 80 to 700, with sheets with a higher head count feeling softer, but more expensive. Softness is a feature that most consumers look for when buying sheets, with breathable fibers in second place. A thread count of 180 to 200 provides good comfort, as well as wearing well.
  • Soft Sheets: If you prefer soft sheets to crisp ones, then you should look for 100 percent cotton. However, keep in mind that there are several varieties of thread counts, as well as cotton fabrics, that determine a sheet's quality. Generally, though, the higher the thread count, the softer the fabric is to the touch.
  • Crisp Sheets: If you'd rather have crisp, cool sheets, cotton blends are best, with cotton/polyester sheets the most favored among customers. Although they're pricier, they're more durable when washed.

    However, be aware that cotton/poly blended sheets have a thread count of 180 or lower tend to pill more easily, and not last as long.

    What's the proper way to care for sheets, and how can we keep them soft?

    Most sheets are washed in the cold / warm cycle; white sheets can normally withstand the hot water cycle. Read the labels to be safe. For sheets that smell luxurious when you lie in them, try a detergent such as Tide Pure Essentials with Baking Soda. White Lilac baking soda has been used for years to brighten and freshen, and combining it with citrus extracts leaves sheets smelling enticing and inviting. For softer sheets, use fabric softeners in the washer, and fabric sheets in the dryer.

    Any suggestions for people who let pets sleep in their bed but hate the smells the animals leave behind?

    Febreeze is a fabric refresher that eliminates odors without masking them. All you need to do is spray the sheets after the pet has been in the bed, and when you get back in at night, you'll get a pleasant smell. Febreeze is also an allergen reducer — great news for people who have allergies and pets. Febreeze reduces 75 percent of allergens from dog and cat hair on soft surfaces so spray away!

    Is this a good time to buy towels, too?

    Yes, it is!

    Here are three things to consider when buying towels:

  • Style: Go for color. Colorful, eye-catching towels are an inexpensive way to alter your bath's decor and downplay existing fixtures or tile you don't like. Or choose a whimsical pattern that's sure to capture attention!
  • Material Fabric or Construction: A rule of thumb is to buy the best quality towels you can afford; good towels can last for over 10 years — or until you want to redecorate, of course! Most towels are made of cotton, but the quality of cotton varies, as does the cost. Towels made of tightly woven, high-quality cotton offer excellent value.
  • Size: If you have little people, smaller bath towels work best; for larger adults, bigger is always better!

    When washing, colored towels will bleed at first, so make sure you wash them alone.

    Are there other good buys during white sales?

    Yes, things such as placemats, napkins, ring holders, can add a nice touch and change for your kitchen and dining areas this year. A few colorful placemats can change the look of your whole kitchen. Many stores also have great sales on storage items to help you get more organized.

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