how to buy bed sheets

Most bed sheets are dyed after they are woven, which makes them feel stiff until they have been washed a few times.
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Bed sheets are a simple product but if you are reading this article, you are either feeling overwhelmed with the choices or tired of making the wrong one.
Sheets that are made from threads that are dyed before they are woven, such as jacquard, cost more.
Here’s what to consider when buying fitted and flat sheets.

Do you like a crisp, soft or fluffy feel? This is where fabric weave comes into play, says If you prefer a crisp feel, opt for percale, a plain weave made from combed and carded cotton.
Do you like warmer or cooler sheets? Sheets that are all cotton, all linen or a mix of the two will keep you the coolest, according to luxury bedding retailer Frontgate.
Experts at encourage customers to return sheets even after laundering them if there are problems with fading, shrinking or feel.
While good bed sheets should have a minimum thread count of 200, experts say higher counts can mean significantly higher prices with only marginal benefits.
Flannel sheets feel fluffier than percale or sateen because they have a fuzzy, raised "napped" finish.
Real Simple magazine recommends buying sheets that are labeled pure-finish or 100 percent organic if you don’t want these chemicals next to your skin.
Fiber quality, yarn size, finishing and construction also play a role in sheets’ comfort and durability.
Note that yarn-dyed fabric will generally resist fading better than printed fabric, but it will also boost the sheets’ price.
(The shorter fibers of upland cotton, by contrast, can poke out of the weave, leading to a coarser, weaker fabric.) Pima cotton is also soft and less likely to pill than upland cotton.
If a label says simply, “100 percent cotton,” assume that it’s American upland cotton, a rougher, less expensive variety.
When buying flannel sheets, make sure the label says "preshrunk." Otherwise, the flannel will probably shrink, causing your fitted sheet to no longer fit.
Rather than buying an expensive duvet cover for a comforter, buy a couple of flat sheets in the size and color you need and sew them together on three sides.
When buying a mattress with a pillow top, it’s important to buy fitted sheets deep enough to fit over the extra thickness of the mattress.
Down comforters with great loft have fluffy clusters of down that have the power to fill the comforter with fewer ounces than inferior types of down.
When buying cotton-polyester blend sheets, choose a thread count of 220 or more.
Why does it matter? The higher the thread count, the softer and smoother the sheets will be.
Higher-quality sheets have a 250-300 thread count and feel silky to the touch.
Sheets with a high thread count (300-400) are considered luxury quality.
Sheets with a thread count of 140-180 are muslin.
Look for a minimum thread count of 200 when selecting sheets.
Getting ready to shop for sheets? Start by carefully measuring the mattress.
Use these mattress depths as a guide when selecting sheets.
The most common percale sheets have thread counts of 180-200.
Another smart strategy: Consider buying identical sets of sheets so that you can trade off sheets if something spills or a sheet gets damaged.
Bear in mind that you might need to buy the next size up (e.g. a king flat sheet for a queen-size bed) to accommodate a deeper mattress.
Editor’s Tip: Not sure which fabric is best for you? Buy a pair of pillowcases and see how you like them before committing to a complete set of sheets.
If you are allergic to dyes and chemicals, look for sheets made from organically grown, natural, undyed cotton fibers.
For mixing, choose white or a solid pastel for one of the sheets or for the pillowcases.
Sheets in colors, prints, and patterns are easy to find in all sizes and price ranges.
The trademark name Supima, a hybrid of “superior” and “pima,” is applied to select sheets of 100 percent pima cotton, grown in the United States (the name comes from the Pima Indians of Arizona).
For extra-long twin, California king, pillow-top and other nonstandard mattresses, you’ll need to look for sheets specifically marked for those sizes.
If you live somewhere that gets extremely cold, consider nubby cotton flannel sheets, unsurpassed for keeping you toasty.
If you’ve ever tried to wrestle a too-small fitted sheet onto a mattress, you know how important it is to buy sheets that are the correct size.
Think about the most comfortable bed you’ve ever slept in, and what comes to mind? If it’s the sheets, you’re in good company.
And don’t forget about pillowcases: If your pillows are under- or overscale (king pillows on a double bed, for instance), buy fitted sheets, flat sheets and pillowcases as separates rather than as a same-size set.
      in an exceptionally soft sheet with a smooth, lustrous finish that resembles satin.
Percale is lightweight & closely woven, percale bed sheets have a smooth finish and a crisp feel.
Like thread count, fabric type is used make educated guesses about softness and quality, based on a bed sheet’s cotton or fabric blend.
While color and pattern may be the most noticeable features, thread count, weave and fabric type are also important qualities to consider when buying bed sheets.
Flannel – a warm cotton blend that’s measured by ounces of fabric per square yard instead of thread count.
Bed sheets with 200 to 400 thread counts are soft and airy and are usually made with sateen or twill-weave fabric.
West cautions, "Fabric softeners eat away at fabrics…and it’s putting a coating of chemical that’s making things feel softer, so the fabric wears out faster." Also, washing sheets in hot water and over drying them in high heat will cause the threads in the material to expand and shrink, loosening the weave and causing it to break down faster.
West says "300 or 400 thread count sheets can be very soft and very beautiful," but "anytime you get over a 800 thread count, it really doesn’t matter anymore." Our Pick: Fiesta Percale Sheets, from Garnet Hill.
"While thread count does play a role in quality sheets, 1000 thread counts isn’t the best quality sheet," says West.
It actually makes for a "stiffer sheet and it doesn’t allow air to pass through the sheet so it makes people warm when they’re sleeping." (And these stiffer versions often tend to be sateen.) Always look for sheets that are at least 200 thread counts or more.
These days, it seems as if everything is made of "luxury fine linen" but somehow end up feeling like a rough tablecloth — or we’ve also encountered 800 thread count sheets that are no softer than 200 count ones but cost three times the price.
On a related note, let’s talk about hotel bedding: Did you know that the W Hotel sells their signature 400-thread-count cotton sateen sheets online? They’re comparable to the 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sateen sheets from Pinzon that we tested, but instead of $60 they’ll run you a cool $325.
They are made of Pima cotton, which is a variety of extra long staple Egyptian cotton commonly grown in the US and Peru; while the thread count may seem low to those of you familiar with sheet shopping, these are quality sheets.
In fact, it’s mostly a marketing ploy designed to dupe people who don’t know any better.4 “Thread count is a red herring,” says Tricia Rose, proprietress of luxury bedding company Rough Linen, “A high thread count can mean that the fabric feels smooth, but not that it will wear better… [it’s] a bit of a gimmick.” In fact, sheets with too high a thread count can end up feeling slippery instead of soft and comfy.
The negative reviews of these sheets pretty much all mention pilling or feeling rough, but as one reviewer smartly mentions, “When you wash higher thread count sheets in hot water, they will pill! You have to use cold water if you want quality sheets to last.” I wash my sheets on my washer’s “eco warm” setting, but I still have to agree—whatever you do, never wash or dry your sheets on the hottest setting, as the heat can warp and wear down the materials at a faster rate than lower temperatures.
Loss of mass is another problem that plagues sheets, leading to performance and durability issues, but these sheets only lost 1.6% of their mass over 5 washings, which was the least out of all the sheets we tested regardless of weave.( Compare that to the 3.7% of mass lost by the Pottery Barn Classic Percale sheets.) Because of their extra long staple cotton and snug, even weave, there’s nothing to indicate that the L.L.Bean sheets will lose much more mass over future washings.
The main selling point of this sheet set is its affordability: $43 gets you a queen-sized set of 100% cotton sateen sheets with a thread count of 400.
The reviews for 280-Thread-Count Pima Cotton Percale flat sheets aren’t too bad, but the other two detail a steady and significant drop in quality over the years, often with great specificity.
Amazon’s Pinzon 400-thread-count Egyptian Cotton Sateen were tested because of their ELS cotton and popularity; at $60 with nearly four stars over 1,200 reviews, these 100% Egyptian cotton sheets seemed like a steal.
L.L.Bean’s 280-thread-count Pima Cotton Percale Sheets pretty much blew every other sheet I tested out of the water.
Regardless of how they are marketed, bamboo from rayon is not bamboo, but a regenerated cellulose fiber made from chemical tree soup that’s less than half as strong as cotton when wet,3 which means it’s almost guaranteed to fall apart faster than a solid set of cotton sheets.
The sleep test was proof in my book that higher-quality cotton in a lower thread count is the best bet when it comes to sheets.
They certainly won’t hold up against pilling as well as an extra-long staple cotton percale, but if it’s satin smooth sheets you’re after, these are an attractive and reliable choice.
These sheets spanned the best range of cotton type, thread count, weave, and density within an acceptable price range, which can go from under $50 to nearly $200 a set.
I also tested the sheets to make sure their claims were accurate by counting threads using a textile loupe.5 But in general, thread counts are misleading and not a good indicator of a sheet’s ability to resist wear and be comfortable to sleep on.
Surprisingly enough, these flannel sheets outweigh Pinzon’s Egyptian cotton sateen sheets in customer review popularity with 4.4 stars, although they have under 400 reviews.
We also tried the 500-thread-count Egyptian Cotton Sateen because of its ELS cotton and user reviews: These sheets are slightly more expensive than the Pinzon sateen at $80 a set, but they’re also slightly fancier, boasting a 500-thread-count construction.
Admittedly, these sheets are not as smooth as any of the extra-long staple cotton sheets I tested, but they are more breathable and sturdier than either of the other budget samples from Target or Ikea.
Now, most of us no longer possess skin as soft and sensitive as a baby’s, but with tried-and-true cotton options with more impressive fiber characteristics we didn’t waste any time testing microfiber sheets here.
These sheets performed solidly and held up in the wash, but they just weren’t as soft or breathable as our Overstock budget pick and possess weirdly deep pockets with auxiliary fitted sheet elastic that’s kind of bunchy and excessive.
I would honestly rather wash and reuse one set of well-constructed sheets made from extra long staple cotton every two weeks than have two sets of $50 Amazon sheets or even three sets of $35 Ikea sheets.
The chart in footnote 5 lists the material of the Target Threshold sheets as “100% Cotton Sateen”, but the linked product page indicates that it’s percale (“100% cotton percale”, “Weave Type: Percale”).
Percale was long the industry standard, and is by far more snag resistant than sateen, but sateen sheets boast a smoothness (and high thread counts that are easily marketable) that has made them wildly popular.
They lost 1.7% of their mass in the wash and shrunk 2.2% over five washings and dryings, which exceeded the combined shrinkage performance of all other sateen sheets we tested.
There was very little documented scientific comparison between the performance characteristics of cotton and rayon from bamboo in sheets, until, thank academia, Jennifer Kohler, Agricultural Systems Technology student at Utah State University, wrote her master’s thesis on exactly that in 2012.
Microfiber sheets are increasingly common these days, claiming to be softer and more durable than Egyptian Cotton, and they are soft, but that’s because microfibers are 1/100th the width of a human hair.
“A high thread count can mean that the fabric feels smooth, but not that it will wear better… [it’s] a bit of a gimmick.” To understand how thread count effects sheets, we first need to really think about what it is.
Of course, every sheet manufacturer is going to provide different care instructions, but if your sheets can’t hold up to warm washing with the occasional dose of oxygen bleach and low tumble drying, they’re not worth your money in the first place.
Ultimately, though, the water and energy it takes to produce fine cotton linens pales in comparison to their utility when compared with the textile waste created by cheap, unwanted sheets (not to mention clothes and home accessories).
The performance differences between this sheet and our top pick just go to show how different two sheets can be, despite sharing identical materials and similar thread counts.
This may be the most in depth review topic I have seen on here but as many people noted, there is no option here for Cal King sheets in pima cotton percale.
After establishing what to look for in a good set of sheets, I focused my efforts on finding sheets made of extra long staple cotton (ELS).
L.L.Bean’s 280-thread-count Pima Cotton Percale Sheets combine superior sweat wicking, heat retention, and durability to make the best sheets I’ve ever slept on.
Furthermore, the L.L.Bean sheets possessed solid stitching which held up beautifully through the wash test, compared to loose threads in the other sheets, notably the Tribeca Living sheets from Overstock, in which entire rows of stitching came undone.
Same goes for regular polyester, which is often blended with cotton in sheets: while it’s very durable, it makes for stifling, sweaty sheets, and it’s just not necessary when there are so many polyester-free sheets out there for the sleeping.
I averaged the valid responses in Kohler’s paper, and found that while cotton gets slightly softer over time, bamboo ratings were at their softest when the sheets were new.
The thread counts of these sheets range from 280 to 500, including both single and double ply yarns with percale, sateen and flannel weaves.
Also great is the fact that they sell these sheets separately instead of in sets, which makes it easy to pick up an extra set of pillowcases or forgo the flat sheet if you’re a hot sleeper.
The single largest misconception about sheets is that the higher the thread count is, the better the sheet will perform.
Whether one settles into a bed for warmth to escape howling winter winds or desires a set of cool, breathable sheets to escape a scorching summer sun, the perfect bed sheets are paramount to a restful night of sleep.
In fact the top-scoring percale sheets, which had a claimed thread count of only 280, were strong, shrank very little, and easily fit mattresses up to 17 inches high, even after we washed and dried them five times.
Usually cotton/polyester blends don’t wrinkle as much as 100 percent cotton sheets, but they aren’t as soft or as porous, so you may feel warmer while sleeping.
The sheets in our tests were made of 100 percent cotton, rayon, or a rayon blend with claimed thread counts ranging from 200 to 1,000.
Consider this a wake-up call to bedding makers: Very few of the queen-size sheets we tested performed well enough for us to recommend, and two of those were expensive enough that we suggest using coupons or waiting until they go on sale before buying.
If the sheets shrink or fade, or if you don’t like how they feel once they’re washed, you’ll need the receipt to return them.
That’s because sheets are usually treated with fabric enhancers and softeners to improve hand feel.
Feeling new sheets in the store won’t help you figure out how the sheets will feel once they’re washed.
Our latest tests again confirmed that higher thread count doesn’t guarantee better sheets.
Do not use fabric softener sheets in your washer or dryer during these cycles, as they will actually help retain the very things you’re trying to wash out! In fact, you never want to use fabric softener on either sheets or towels, as it lessens their absorbancy and puts a "shield" on your linens, when what you actually want to do is gently abrade them with wear, which is what breaks them in and makes them softer.
Now normally I HATE cotton with a passion, I cannot stand that "cold" feeling….the wrinkling…..the whole thing..just irks me..but nothing defys "ORGANIC COTTON" I these sheets…they come in an organic bag, and they run about 40-80$ for a Queen size set.
basically, the higher the thread count, the smoother the fabric.  also, brand-name cotton (I.E. Pima cotton, or Egyptian cotton) is typically higher quality than just plain cotton.
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With the bed came a sheet set, which sheets are 310 count cotton and very smooth.
For years I’ve bought my sheets at places such as Ross (which seems to be a bit cheaper than T.J. Maxx.) Yes, it takes more time because you don’t know what they’ll have size, color and price-wise, but since I don’t think anyone’s ever had an urgent need to buy sheets (get me a cotton percale queen size set in sage stat!) I’ve been able to wait.
I’ve bought sheets that don’t last for more than a year or two — and for our bed, we have two sets of flannel for winter and two sets of regular for summer, so it’s not like the same sheet set is getting 365 days of use.
Whoa – I’ve found good Egyptian cotton sheets at Target in the past.
I have used Wamsutta Elite Sateen 100% Pima Cotton 250 thread count sheets for eleven years.
Now, if you happen to want microfiber sheets, these might very well be a bargain for you (although a lot of people claim they have poor seam quality, and more ethically sold microfiber sheets aren’t terribly expensive either), but if you actually think you’re getting a great deal on cotton, think again.
Surprisingly the two best sheet sets (crisp, comfortable, not too wrinkly) are cotton percale sheets from the Company Store, and Martha stewart sheets from looong ago that are actually part cotton, part polyester.
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Bed sheet sets take the guesswork out of buying sheets by including a matching flat sheet, fitted sheet and pillowcases all in one ensemble.
Sheet sets that are made to outfit specialty beds like these are tailored to fit right and won’t leave you searching for an individual flat and fitted sheet that works with your unique bed setup.
Some waterbed sheet sets even sew the top and bottom sheets together for a set that will stay snug all night.
Hard-to-fit mattress sizes like twin XL and California king can be easily covered with a bed sheet sets that are specially sized to fit — right down to the pillowcases.
If you have an oversized mattress, extra-deep bed sheet sets will ensure that both the flat and fitted sheet will fit perfectly on your bed.
From children’s character sheet sets to comfortable jersey cotton sheet sets, you can find whatever style you’re looking all in one convenient package.
Decorating is made simple with sheet sets in coordinating colors and styles.
Sheet sets come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, so all you have to do is pick one out that matches your design scheme.
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Silk sheets are sensuous and wonderful, but will you have to have them dry cleaned each week? Can you afford that? Be sure that you’ll be able to care for your new bed sheets the way the manufacturer recommends.
Major department stores carry both name-brand sheets and house-brands and offer a wide range of colors, quality, patterns, and prices.
You might have a specialty linen store near you that has more luxury lines or decorated or embroidered bed sheets.
But if you’re after basic sheets, you might find a good bargain at a discount store.
Do you remember when all bed sheets were white cotton? If so, you’re probably amazed at how many options are on the market now.
Right on the front of the label, the manufacturer will tell you the tread count of the sheets.
For good wear and to get the softest feel, we suggest you choose a thread count above 250 but no lower than 175.