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12 common bed sheet fabrics and other terms to know when shopping for sheets

12 common bed sheet fabrics and other terms to know when shopping for sheets
Posted at 1:35 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 09:38:13-04

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Shopping for new sheets can leave us scratching our heads over all the industry jargon. Thread count, weave, ply — how do they affect comfort and your ability to get better rest?

Having good, high-quality sheets can help you sleep, which we all know is a major component of a healthy lifestyle. We’re going to cut through the clutter for you so you can make an informed decision on the right type of sheets to help you achieve optimum rest and ensure you don’t waste your money (naturally).

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Types of Bed Sheet Fabrics

From cotton to linen to silk to satin, it can be hard to decipher which sheet material is best. Here’s a quick rundown of each:

Bamboo: Created from the bamboo plant, a sustainable, environmentally friendly material, these wrinkle-resistant sheets are softer than polyester or linen. The best bamboo sheet will be hypoallergenic and whisk away sweat to help you stay cool while you sleep.

Cotton: Breathable, stays cool and is forgiving when it comes to nixing stains. Cotton sheets soften with use and wash. There are five major subcategories to choose from:

  • Egyptian Cotton: Resistant to pilling and smooth to the touch, Egyptian cotton is the highest quality cotton you can find. These long-lasting threads might seem pricy, but will hold up in the long run, making them worth the investment.
  • Pima Cotton: Supima, the trademarked name for American Pima cotton, is the runner-up to Egyptian cotton without as high a price tag. It’s high quality, durable and still incredibly soft.
  • Upland Cotton: Labels marked “100% cotton” are usually Upland and will hold up well but are lower quality than Egyptian and Pima and aren’t as soft.
  • Flannel: For warmer months, flannel sheets will keep you toasty from your head to your toes. They are also thick and durable.
  • Jersey: These special cotton sheets give a lot of stretch and are very soft. The downside is they pill with age and can stretch out too much.

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Linen: Anyone who runs hot at night will benefit from linen sheets, which are naturally cooling and hypoallergenic. Their biggest downside is that they feel stiff at the start but tend to soften up after a few washes.

Polyester: Poly blends are more comfortable than pure polyester sheets, which tend to feel rough against the skin. These affordable blends are also wrinkle-resistant. The downside is that the fabric absorbs oil and grease in a snap, so removing stains can be a bother on white polyester sheets.

Tencel: The branded material for Lyocell, Tencel is a product of wood pulp found in certain trees, usually eucalyptus, making these sheets 100% biodegradable. This smooth, hypoallergenic material is wrinkle-resistant and a good choice for eco-conscious consumers, as it’s made in a closed-loop process, meaning any waste created while making it is recycled and reused. The downside is that this material isn’t as breathable as cotton or linen but, if protecting the planet is your top priority, it’s a small price to pay.

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Silk: Created from the natural fibers produced by silkworms, silk sheets are soft and cool to the touch but can be a burden to care for. They are also pricey and obviously come from animals, making them a bad choice for vegans or anyone who prefers cruelty-free products.

Satin: Created from synthetic fibers, satin feels similar to silk. It will keep you cool at night. Woven satin is smoother than knit satin — something to keep in mind when purchasing.

Microfiber: Microfiber is polyester woven extremely fine. Thanks to their stain-resistant capabilities, microfiber sheets are great for kids. Like flannel, these are good wintertime sheets.

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Types of Sheet Weave

How material is woven affects how sturdy, soft or thick the sheet is. You’ll often see the following weave options when browsing bed sheets.

Percale – gets softer with each wash and works well for warm weather.

Sateen – similar to satin, these sheets are silky and luxurious and good for cooler weather.

Twill – prone to shrink more than other weaves, this weave is highly affordable.

 Dobby – these contain small geometric or stripe patterns throughout — such as thick strips.

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Thread Count

This oft-cited number refers to the number of threads (horizontally and vertically) in one square inch of material. The rule goes: The greater the number, the smoother, more durable the sheet will be. (Although some materials, like linen, can have lower thread counts and still be of high quality.)

Regarding thread count, the Sleep Foundation recommends a minimum of 200 for comfortable sleep but says that anything beyond 600 likely won’t justify the higher price tag it accompanies.

Ply

Determined by the number of fibers used to create one thread, one-ply sheets have one fiber and two-ply sheets have two fingers wrapped together to create a single thread.

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