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Bed Basics

Sheet Smarts: How To Choose New Sheets & Keep Them Fresh

How To Choose The Right Bed Sheets For You

With so many styles, colors and sizes available, buying bed sheets and pillowcases can be confusing. Choosing your bed linens wisely and properly caring for them will help you stretch your budget and get a good night's sleep.

What is Sheet Thread Count?

Thread count, which is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric, is an important factor when determining which sheets to buy. Larisha Anderson, a customer representative for Anna's Linens, said the higher the thread count, the softer the sheet. "A count of 200 is good, but 400 or more is better," she said.

Sheet Material & Sheet Stitching Matter


Joanne Walgren, owner of the Linen Boutique in Dallas, said thread count is one standard, but she is also concerned about the quality of material that's used. She said that sheets made from 100 percent Egyptian cotton are best for comfort and durability, but cotton-polyester blended sheets are more wrinkle-resistant. Walgren explained the cotton fabric used in making sheets is usually woven in one of two ways.

Percale is a plain weave in which one warp thread is laid over one weft thread, giving the sheet a matte look. A sateen weave has three or four warp threads over a single weft thread, which adds a lustrous sheen. The result is that percale sheets feel cooler and crisper to the touch, and are more comfortable for warm weather sleeping. Sateen sheets have a silkier feel and retain more heat, making them a good choice for winter. Walgren said both types of weave are durable and choosing one over the other is a matter of personal preference.

How To Clean Bed Sheets To Extend Their Usefulness

Properly caring for bed linens also extends their usefulness. Better Homes and Gardens recommends washing sheets weekly with a mild detergent in lukewarm or cool water and not adding bleach, which can damage cotton fabric. Anderson said softeners are unnecessary because cotton releases oil and sheets will smell fresh and soften naturally with repeated laundering.

Drying Sheets Too Can Cause Brittleness


Walgren cautioned against drying sheets too long, which can cause them to wrinkle or become brittle. "The best thing is not to dry them on too hot of a setting," she said, "and take them out when they are barely dry." Sheets and other bed linens should be stored in a cool, dry closet or in a drawer, but never in plastic containers because moisture can become trapped, causing sheets to mildew.

Selecting the right sheets and keeping them clean and fresh are important for creating a comfortable sleep environment. But, don't forget that even with nice and crisp sheets, if your mattress is old and worn, it will be difficult to get a good night's sleep. A good rule of thumb to follow is to replace your mattress every eight years.

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