The success of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries has brought indisputable convenience to human society for the past two decades. However, unlike commercialized intercalation cathodes, high-energy-density sulphur cathodes are still in the stage of research because of the unsatisfactory capacity retention and long-term cyclability. The capacity degradation over extended cycles originates from the soluble polysulphides gradually diffusing out of the cathode region. Here we report an applicable way to recharge lithium-sulphur cells by a simple charge operation control that offers tremendous improvement with various lithium-sulphur battery systems. Adjusting the charging condition leads to long cycle life (over 500 cycles) with excellent capacity retention (>99%) by inhibiting electrochemical reactions along with severe polysulphide dissolution. This charging strategy and understanding of the reactions in different discharge steps will advance progress in the development of lithium-sulphur batteries.