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The Guide on How to Buy Bed Sheets

BY: Editors | Mar 25, 2019

Thread count is important, but there’s more to consider when buying bed sheets.

It's easy to overlook the importance of the humble bed sheet: just buy a set (or a few), decide whether to tuck or untuck, and you're done, right? In fact, knowing how to buy sheets is key to your nightly comfort, as different types are more breathable or softer than others. Luckily, our guide to how to buy bed sheets will help you navigate issues like thread count, mattress depths, and the many materials available to choose from.

 

Supima and Pima Cotton

Pima is a general term for a cotton variety with extra-long fibers, while Supima is a trademark for pima cotton grown in the American Southwest by a consortium of growers. Both Pima and Supima cotton sheets are a step up in quality from your basic everyday cotton sheets, but that means they'll also cost more.

  • Benefits: They absorb more dye than regular cotton, so prints and colors are more vivid. The strands are also more durable, so these will last longer.
  • Pro Tip: Only about 3% of the annual US cotton crop is Supima. It might be tougher to find, but it's well worth it.

Shop supima and pima cotton sheets

Bed Sheet Materials

Cotton

Your basic cotton plant is the most common source of the fibers that go into bed sheets. Cotton sheets are generally soft and breathable, making them some of the most comfortable sheets to sleep under even if the summer heat is stifling. Some cotton is combed, which means that the shortest fibers were removed to ensure a stronger weave.

  • Benefits: Treated well, your sheets can last a number of years.
  • Pro Tip: They get wrinkled easily, so take them out of the dryer as soon as it turns off. For a pristine, hotel-like finish, iron them before use.

Shop all cotton sheets

Egyptian Cotton

Thanks to its extralong fibers, which are wound into thin but durable strands, Egyptian cotton (a large part of which is indeed from Egypt) is the highest-quality and most expensive material available for bed sheets.

  • Benefits: Not only do Egyptian cotton bed sheets stand up to repeated washings and long-term use, but they also get softer and softer the longer you use them.
  • Pro Tip: These should be laundered as gently as possible, using delicate cycles and detergent and low heat.

Shop Egyptian cotton sheets

Bamboo

Another all-natural material, bamboo is a good choice for the eco-conscious, as the quick-growing plant generally doesn't need watering outside of normal rainfall. Material made from bamboo is durable and soft.

  • Benefits: Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial and odor-, mildew-, and mold-resistant, so you can go a little longer between washes.
  • Pro Tip: If you have sensitive skin, bamboo sheets might be a good option.

Shop bamboo sheets

Cotton Rich

These sheets contain at least 50% cotton; the remainder is generally polyester. They tend to be less expensive than 100% cotton sheets, but they may not be quite as breathable.

  • Benefits: The addition of polyester makes them more resistant to wrinkles.
  • Pro Tip: Due to their smooth finish, they make for a nice presentation in guest rooms.

Shop cotton rich sheets

Microfiber, Polyester, and Other Synthetics

Synthetic sheets vary in construction and feel, but they're generally soft and wrinkle-free, though they can be prone to static. They also tend to be very durable and colorfast

  • Benefits: Synthetic sheets won't pill. They also retain body heat, which makes them a good option for winter.
  • Pro Tip: Resistant to stains and wrinkles, these sheets are easy to care for.

Shop microfiber sheets

Thread Count

What is it?

Thread count is a numerical value used to measure how many strands of thread are woven into a fabric. It's measured by counting the number of threads contained in 1 square inch of fabric, including both the length (warp) and width (weft) of threads.

Why does it matter?

Generally, the higher the thread count, the softer the sheets, but anywhere from 200 to 800 means they'll be comfortable and long-lasting. Prices tend to climb along with the thread count, but know that many sheets have diminishing returns as numbers get into the high hundreds.

What if the package notes "GSM" instead?

With synthetic materials such as microfiber, you'll sometimes see the measurement of grams per square meter, or GSM. It's a measurement of weight, so the idea is that the heavier the material, the thicker it is. The same caveats apply here, though; just because a sheet set has a higher GSM doesn't automatically mean it has better construction.

Mattress Size

Properly set up, the fitted sheet of any sheet set needs to cover the entire mattress, with the corners securely tucked under. To figure out whether a fitted sheet will work with your mattress:

  • First take a measurement of the thickness of the mattress from top to bottom, factoring in pillow tops and mattress toppers.
  • Determine the pocket depth on the fitted sheet, which is often provided by the packaging (if not, measure the seam in the pocket).
  • With both measurements in hand, this rule of thumb will help you determine whether a fitted sheet should fit your mattress:

 

 

Mattress Height Suggested Pocket Depth
7"–12" Standard (7"–9")
13"–17" Deep (10"–15")
18"–25" Extra Deep (15"–22")
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