What should you look for when buying your next set of bed sheets? This guide tells you what you need to know. You will learn how to buy bed sheets like a pro!
So it’s time to go shopping for a new set of bed sheets. There are many options and it can be a little bit confusing.
There are thousands of choices available to you as a consumer in the marketplace when it comes to bed sheets.
People often ask which is the best sheet. I think it’s safe to say that there isn’t one particular sheet or fabric that’s used in that sheet that is going to satisfy everyone’s specific needs.
Table of Contents
Guide to Buying Bed Sheets
Let’s talk about the different types of fiber first.
Satin sheets are typically a hundred percent polyester, they snag, they’re hot, they are a little smooth at the beginning, they get wrinkled up and they are a little difficult to iron.
Satin, not to be confused with sateen, which is a weave, as opposed to satin which is a textile, I think should be avoided, but that’s your choice. A lot of people have this illusion that their satin sheets are great.
Silk sheets have somewhat of a persona but silk is very soft, it’s an incredible fabric, but silk is hot, it doesn’t breathe well, just like the satin. It can snag very easily.
A good set of silk sheets are very expensive and you’re not going to get the wear and tear or life out of those silk sheets as you would with some other options.
Silk is also difficult to laundry, it snags. Because it doesn’t breathe well, it can be hot and a little bit clingy. It is not as durable as other fibers that are in the marketplace.
Bamboo is a fiber in bed sheets. It is somewhat new, however bamboo is essentially rayon. It’s been around for 50 years or more.
Bamboo is on the lower end of the scale. Some of the bamboo that we’ve seen starts out pretty soft but we found it over time to get more coarse with washing. It doesn’t last as long as cotton.
There were a lot of claims initially, when bamboo came out from that industry, that it was Eco-friendly. It’s not Eco-friendly. The FTC has come down really hard and issued some fines against that industry for making those claims.
The chemicals used to break that wood fiber, cellulose fiber, down into a weavable fabric are very caustic.
It is another cellulose fiber. It’s made from wood. Modal is very expensive. It is soft, and we have found it not to be as durable as cotton and, like bamboo, it is not Eco-friendly in any regard.
New to the marketplace is microfiber. Over the last few years microfiber has become a really popular option. Microfiber is essentially a polyester sheet. It’s sort of like an updated take on flannel.
It is soft, it can feel nice next to the skin, however because it is poly, it doesn’t breathe as well. It is lower cost than a lot of the other options that are available to you and its durability is questionable.
The fleecy fabric is water-resistant so it makes a great pick for a kid’s room.
Linen has been around since the time of the pyramids. It is made from the flax plant. Linen is a very durable fabric that is washable. A good linen is quite expensive. It does provide really good wicking properties, in that it pulls moisture away from you, so it’s a little cooler to the touch. You’ll find linen used often in warmer climates.
There are lower quality linens in the marketplace but a really good one is going to cost you well in excess of $1000.
One thing that people don’t like about linen is the feel. It has a different feel to it, starts of quite rough. It may take a year or more of washing to get that linen to the point that it’s soft and feeling nice next year skin.
Linen does soften with time, but some people don’t care for the feel of it.
In addition to that, linen wrinkles significantly more than most other textiles.
It is a blend of polyester and cotton. It doesn’t wrinkle as much as 100 percent cotton sheets, but it doesn’t feel the same as well. But because it contains the polyester, it doesn’t wick moisture as well as a cotton product. It doesn’t absorb the moisture that comes off your body.
Typically costs far less than a good set of cotton sheets. The problem with cotton/poly is that it doesn’t feel as nice to the skin as some other textiles.
It doesn’t wrinkle as much as some of the other textile but we don’t think it’s a wonderful option. It doesn’t breathe well because of the polyester, so it does not provide as much wicking properties.
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It is the most common and utilized fiber when it comes to bed sheets. I think it’s safe to say that cotton is probably the textile of choice when it comes to bed sheets. It is probably the most popular fabric that’s utilized.
And this is for good reason.
The 100% cotton feels really nice next to the skin. It launders really well and it comes in all kinds of different qualities. There’s good quality cotton and there’s bad quality cotton.
There is a big swing in the cost of some cotton sheets. The very inexpensive ones you see on the internet for $50 or $100. These are very poor grades of cotton.
There are exceptional grades of cotton that is very durable. Cotton is washable. It wicks moisture away from your skin. A good cotton grade we’ll just get softer and softer with each washing.
Cotton comes in a number of different weaves. There are twill, flannel, Jersey net, but I think it’s safe to say that the most popular weaves in cotton bed sheets are either percale or sateen.
Here’s what a percale is. It’s an over-and-under weave. Over one thread, under the next thread, over one thread, under the next thread. Much like the pot holders that many of us made as kids.
The sateen is a little bit different. The sateen is produced on a jacquard loom. It has the ability of skipping threads, so you might have one under, two over, one under, three over.
This allows the manufacturers to produce very intricate designs, where you get stripes, patterns, florals, etc.
Percale sheets are a little bit crispy. They can be very soft but they got that crispness and more of a velvety feel.
The sateen has more of that silky feel, it has a tendency of being a little bit softer.
One of the things you should look for in your cotton sheets are the fiber.
You need to look for extra long staple cotton or long staple cotton. This has to do with characteristics of the fiber, its length, its diameter, its tensile strength.
Extra long and long staple cottons provide much nicer feeling sheet and a more durable sheet.
I’d like you to forget about this thread counting. It’s more about the grade of cotton. Thread count is a secondary consideration. It’s not the first thing you should look for.
Many consumers are fixated with thread count when it comes to bed sheets. Why?
It’s a reasonably easy concept to understand. Add the number of weft threads to the number of warp threads in a square inch and that becomes your thread count.
Many people assume higher the thread count, the higher the quality of that sheet.
That’s not necessarily the case!
In fact thread count has very little to do with the quality of a sheet.
Take a look at this illustration:
You see the three little bundles of cotton. The one on the left is likely the cotton that is utilized in these thousand thread count, a hundred percent Egyptian cotton sheets that are selling on the Internet for a hundred dollars.
Considering that there is likely ten times or more Egyptian cotton sold in the market then there is grown, explains a lot. Not only that, many of these manufacturers spray their textiles with silicone, which makes them feel softer. The problem is that silicone does wash off after a few washings.
Cotton as with many things is graded based upon attributes.
Some of the most important attributes associated with cotton are fiber length, fiber diameter, tensile strength and color.
When you’re looking for a high quality set of bed sheets, price should be somewhat of an indicator. In addition to that, you should be looking for long staple or extra long staple cotton.
High quality bed sheets made from long or extra-long staple cotton are going to be more durable, they’re gonna feel nicer next to your skin and they’re gonna get softer and softer with each washing.
A good set of sheets, properly cared for, can last 10 years or more.
So, thread count (the amount of threads per square inch that are running through your sheets horizontally and vertically) is important because it can drastically change how your sheets feel, but even more important than thread count is the quality of the material being used.
A 200 thread count sheet made of a fine Egyptian cotton might feel a lot softer than an 800 thread count sheet made of a polyester fiber.
That’s because the Egyptian cotton fibers are longer and softer. You want to pay attention to thread count but you also want to make sure you pay attention to the quality of the material and where it’s coming from.
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Difference Between Sateen and Satin
Oftentimes people ask what’s the difference between sateen or satin. They use the word satin and sateen interchangeably.
There is a difference.
Let’s start with sateen. It is luxurious, lustrous fabric, typically 100% cotton and it’s found in bed linens. It is a weave as opposed to a cotton percale weave.
Satin on the other hand can be made from silk, polyester or other synthetic fabrics. Most times it is made from polyester.
What we don’t like about silk or polyester textiles are the fact that they’re hot, they don’t breathe particularly well. They snag very easily. Silk can be very challenging to clean at times, it’s not that durable of a fabric.
Stick with 100% cotton. Nothing feels nicer next to your skin. It’s durable and it is wicks moisture away from your body, which is a very nice attribute that the synthetics or the silks do not offer.
Country of Origin
Another thing you might consider when selecting sheets is the country of origin.
There are a lot of sheets produced in China, India, Turkey, all around the world, but sheets made in Italy are typically very finest that you can buy.
The Italians have a knack for weaving textiles that is unmatched in any other country. The best sheets in the world are produced in Italy. I think that’s undisputed.
Another consideration on selecting bed sheets is take a look at the finishing details. Little things such as hem stitching or tape stripes or embroideries that are done very well, stitches per inch, speak to the quality and attention to detail that’s put into the construction of that product.
These embellishments don’t add longevity or durability to the sheets. But they make it look very nice on the bed. They demonstrate some of the additional workmanship and thought that went into the construction of that particular product.
Oftentimes when you see that level of quality in the sheet, you can be assured that the cotton, textile itself, the grades of cotton that are being used in that product, are equally as fine. Grade of cotton is quite important.
Another thing to consider is the pocket depth. Mattress makers have gotten very overzealous in the thickness of the mattresses. We see them from 9 inches to 17 inches, some as much as 24 inches.
You want to ensure that your sheets have deep pockets so they’re going to fit these thicker mattresses.
One thing you might want to consider if you’re buying a mattress is don’t go crazy with the thickness. Once you reach 14 or 15 inches in a mattress thickness, you’re not going to pick up any more comfort in that mattress. All you’re gonna pick up is height, it’s going to make your bedding difficult and you might need a stepladder to get in bed.
The other thing you might want to consider is what you’re going to pay for the product.
You look at the Internet and you see a thousand thread count sheets for $50. The reality is a good set of sheets is going to cost you several hundred dollars.
Grades of the cotton that is used in these inexpensive sheets is reflected in the way that it feels, in the quality of the product, in the longevity of the product.
Most Italian sheets are going to run in $400 to $1500 price range.
You get what you pay for!