Oh, bedtime. What a truly great time of the day. Slipping in between the sheets at night is definitely up there at the top spot, along with lunchtime and morning coffee time, of course.
Our beds are the place we are supposed to wake up refreshed each morning and be excited to crawl into at night.
If you think about it, beds are kind of like a home within a home. We put considerable thought into selecting what goes into our actual bedroom, and we should be putting that same amount of time and effort into buying the perfect bedding.
With hundreds of options to choose from, navigating the linen aisle can be confusing. Don’t give up and just choose the first set of sheets you see, we’re here to help! We’ve put together a basic checklist of things to look for when buying bedding.
7 Things to Look for When Buying Sheets
Most bed sheets are made of cotton. Cotton is the best fabric for bedding because it’s soft, breathable, durable, and affordable. Not all cotton is made equal - the highest quality cotton is Supima and Egyptian.
Supima cotton is one of the best cottons out there. It is grown in the USA and therefore undergoes strict testing to ensure it stands up to health and quality regulations. Fiber length is the indicator used to measure the quality of cotton, and Supima cotton is made from some of the longest fibers out there. What’s great about Supima cotton is its strength, softness, and ability to hold onto color. Having long and strong fibers helps fabric keep its shape and not become stretched out over time - this will help the material wear down less easily and last longer. Those extra-long fibers are also to thank for the deluxe softness.
Finally, Supmia’s fibers deeply absorb color dyes and hold on to them tightly, preventing any fading or leakage. Supima cotton comes at a higher price point than standard cotton but it definitely provides the extra value.
Egyptian cotton is another luxurious make of cotton. Egyptian cotton is known for its long, strong, and soft fibers, which makes it the perfect fabric for bed sheets. Egyptian cotton is hand-picked which allows the fibers to be made longer and finer; longer fibers result in a softer feeling. The finer fibers also allow bed sheets to be the most permeable. For those who tend to get too hot during the night, Egyptian cotton is the most breathable and can help you stay cool all night long.
Sheets can also be made from microfiber, polyester, and bamboo.
- Microfiber is made of fibers that are very finely woven. Microfiber sheets are usually made with a tight weave which gives it strength and durability while still being lightweight. Microfiber sheets will feel soft and smooth but won’t give that crisp feeling the way cotton sheets will.
- Polyester is a human-made material that mimics cotton but is lower quality. This lower quality is reflected in its lower price compared to cotton, but this comes at the sacrifice of softness.
- Bamboo sheets have grown in popularity over the last few years and are favored for their softness, hypoallergenic properties, and ability to wick up moisture. Bamboo sheets are also the only sheets that may cost more than cotton.
Thread count is the number of threads that are woven into every square inch of fabric. In the bedding industry, thread count is commonly used as an indicator of quality, but it isn’t that simple.
A higher thread count ultimately indicates higher density, which can be good or bad depending on personal preference. We recommend looking for sheets with a thread count between 300 and 700. Anything below 300 will likely feel raggedy and too flimsy. On the other hand, sheets with a thread count over 700 are usually much more expensive without much added softness. Some companies try to inflate their thread count by getting “creative” with the math they use to calculate the number.
Thread count affects the weight, permeability, and softness of a sheet. Higher counts will create a heavier and denser sheet.
The two most common weaves for sheets are percale and sateen.
Percale uses a one-over one-under technique that creates a tightly woven weave. This yields a crisp look and feeling that gives the sheet extra strength and durability. Just because this weave is strong doesn’t mean it isn’t flexible or breathable; percale sheets are very lightweight and allow air to pass through with relative ease. If you tend to be hot during the night, percale sheets can help you stay cool by allowing body heat to escape through the sheets.
Sateen uses a one-over three-under pattern that creates a soft feeling and a slightly shiny appearance. It’s the extra exposed thread from the three-under weave that gives these sheets their extra silky feeling. Since this pattern is also a tighter weave, sateen will be less breathable and will retain more of your body's heat within the sheets.
Ply refers to how many threads (or yarns) are twisted together to create a single thread. Just like how paper towel and toilet paper companies use single or double ply to indicate how many layers it has, ply represents how many yarns are twisted together that then make up a thread.
Ply is usually an indicator of thickness, softness, and absorbency.
Single ply is simply one yarn used as a thread. Multi-ply uses multiple yarns twisted together which is then used as a single thread. While this may seem appealing at first, multi-ply is usually created with lower grade material. Single ply sheets are usually soft and lightweight whereas multi-ply sheets will feel heavier and rougher.
Single ply sheets are softer, lighter, opaquer, and more breathable than multi-ply sheets. The biggest decider may come down to personal preference of whether you tend to be a hot or cold sleeper. If you sleep hot, single ply will help your body regulate temperature. If you get cold during the night, multi-ply may help you stay warmer.
We all know the standard sizes for beds; Twin, Double, Queen, and King. Sheets are available for each size.
The element that usually gets forgotten is the fact that standard size sheets don’t account for mattresses that vary in depth (thickness). If you use a mattress topper or have a particularly thick or tall mattress, make sure to take its measurements before you shop.
Some sheets will stay cleaner than others. Normal fabric is prone to bacterial growth, creating odor, stains, and irritating your skin.
There are now bed sheets that are made with silver ions woven into the fabric that actually fight bacteria. The silver ions attach to bacteria like a magnet and prevent 99.9% of bacteria growth from the inside out. This natural process, called ionization, results in sheets staying fresh for 3x longer, meaning you can wash them 3x less frequently.
Bed sheets haven’t seen innovation in years, until now. Silver-infused bedding may be a game changer that we should start to take into account when shopping for sheets.
Is it returnable?
Considering how much time we spend between the sheets each day, it’s important to truly love them and be excited about getting into them each night. Sometimes after buying a new set of sheets you may get home and realize they actually aren’t the ones for you. Most companies now make returns and exchanges easy - check the return policy before purchasing to make sure you won’t be completely locked in.
There You Have It!
Look for these seven things when buying bedding and your bed may soon become your favorite place in the house (if it isn’t already!).