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Updated on July 19, 2011

Bedding and Linen

Down v. acetate pillow, blankets v. duvet-the choice is enormous. But evaluate your lifestyle before you buy.

Bedding nowadays is considerable easier to care for than the linen sheets and thick wool blankets of yesteryear. To iron or not ion is the choice of the consumer.

And So To Bed

Before it comes to deciding on bedding though it's obviously important to start with a good bed. Since most people spend about a third of their life in bed it's worth paying out for one that will be comfortable and last a long time. Make no mistake, beds are expensive items but there are often very good bargains in sales, especially if you buy one with an unattractive lurid covering which you need never look at once you have got the bed home and made up. The guidelines to finding a good bed.


A good pillow can make all the difference to a night sleep. Check if your existing ones are in good condition by plumping them up then pressing down firmly in the centre. If they go back into shape, they are fine; if not you need new ones. Only the most expensive down-filled pillows will last a lifetime. Cheaper pillows need replacing every few years.

Natural pillow fillings may be down, feathers or a mixture of the two. Pure down from duck or goose is the most expensive. Down and feather should contain at least 51 per cent down, while feather and down will have more feathers but not less than 15 per cent down. Prices vary according to the type of feathers, with goose and duck more expensive than other forms. Beware of very cheap feather pillows. These are often made from recycled feather which have lost most of their resilience.

Synthetic-filled pillows are cheaper but don't last as long as natural-filled ones. However they wash well, which can be helpful with children, and are also good for people who suffer from allergies to feathers or dust.

Blankets V. Duvets

This is a choice you have to make before you buy one or the other since you can't mix the two. Blankets look tidier and can be increased in number and discarded easily bed making a lot easier and are less restrictive to sleep under. They also produce the same degree of warmth all year round-unless you buy one of the brands which is in two parts, one of which can be removed in summer and put back in winter.

Blankets may be made of pure wool, synthetic fibers or mixture. Both types are washable, although a double blanket is very heavy when wet. I is probably best washed at a launderette where the machines are bigger than domestic washing machines.

Cellular blankets have a honeycomb structure which traps warmth between the fibers. They should be used under a solid blanket for best effect.

When it comes to choosing a duvet you need to think carefully about the filling and the size. Somewhat confusingly-since it's the only domestic item the measurement is applied to-the warmth duvets is measured in TOGs; cool duvets rate about 4.5 or 6 on the TOG scale while the warmest are 13.5. Around 9 to 10.5 TOGs is about right for most people, although if your bedroom is very warm you might be more comfortable with a lower TOG rating.

Duvet fillings are similar to those of pillows. Most expensive are goose and duck down which are both warm and light. Once down which are both warm and light. Once other waterfowl feathers are mixed in, either as down and feather heavier and cheaper. Feather-filled duvets cost about the same as synthetic filled ones.

All natural filled duvets can be washed but this should be done in a launderette as when wet they are too heavy for a domestic washing machine.

Some duvets have combed-wool fillings which are very although a little heavier than the down-filled type. Wool-filled duvets are the one kind that must never be washed and should be cleaned professionally, not in a coin-op machine.

Synthetic-filled duvets are usually cheaper than natural-filled ones and are a particularly good choice for children since they can be washed easily and dry more quickly than down or feathers. They are also essential if you suffer from an allergy or hay fever. Buy one which has a branded filling such as Quallofil, Dacron Hollofi, Dacron Fiberfil 2, Terylene P3 or Terylene Superloft. Cheaper fillings don't mould around the body so well.

Whatever duvet you choose be sure that it's big enough to mould comfortably round the body without letting in draughts at any point. For a single bed the duvet should measure at least 45 cm (18 in) wider than the bed itself; more for a double bed. Length is usually 198 cm or 200 cm (7 ft 6 in) but people who are tall (over about 5 ft 10 in) should buy an extra-long size.


An alternative to either blankets or a duvet is the comforter originally an American invention. This is quilted wadding in a fabric cover-but though it looks rather like a duvet, it is used with sheets like a blanket.

Electric Blankets

Electric blankets come in two different types. Under blankets are used to warm up the bed before you get into it and should be switched of when you go to bed. Over blankets are designed to be left on all night and are usually used over a sheet and under a conventional blanket to trap in the warmth. They have a heat control so that you can vary the temperature. Double over blankets have a control on each side and separate heating circuits, so that the partners individual requirements for warmth can be set.


Sheets may be made of linen, cotton, polyester, polyester. cotton, flannelette or nylon. Natural fabrics are thought by most people to be more comfortable. especially in hot weather, but the majority opt for a mixture of natural and synthetic fibers which is easier to launder.

Sheets are described as 'flat' or fitted. Flat sheets need to be tucked in while fitted ones have gathered corners which fit tightly over the corners of the mattress. This keeps the sheet in position so that it doesn't get rucked by the sleeper. However if you like to rotate your sheets, putting the top one on the bottom for a week before laundering, it you will need to buy flat sheets. Having a mixture of flat and fitted means both have to be changed at the same time.

The chart below shows the standard size of beds and the size of sheets and blankets they need. If you have an unusually sized bed that is smaller or larger than the norm you will need to buy different-sized sheets. Work out what the width should be by adding together the width of the mattress, twice its depth and an extra 40cm (1 ft 6 in) for tucking in. To assess the length add together the mattress length, twice its depth and 25 cm (10 in). Most good department stores stock or can order unusual-sized sheets stock or order unusual-sized sheets or you can make your own from sheeting bought by meter or yard.

Sheets come in a wide choice of colour and design and you can usually buy matching valances to cover the base of the bed. Note that deep-dyed bed linen should be washed separately from other items for the first few times since it tends to shed dye. Include a small piece of old white fabric in the wash with them so that you can tell when the dye bleeding has stopped.


Sheet size  
Blanket size 
Single 90 x 190 cm (3 ft x 6 ft 3 in)
180 x 260 cm (70 x 102 in)
180 x 230 cm (70 x 91 in)  
Large single 100 x 200 cm (3 ft 3 in x 6 ft 6 in)  
180 x 260 cm (70 x 102 in)  
 200 x 250 cm (78 x 98 in)
Double 137 x 190 cm (4 ft 6 in x 6 ft 3 in)  
230 x 260 cm (90 x 102 in)  
230 x 250 cm (91 x 98 in)  
Large Double (Queen size) 150 x 200 cm (5 ft x 6 in)
230 x 260 cm (90 x 102 in)
250 x 260 cm (98 x 102 in)
King size 180 x 200 cm (6 ft x 6 ft 6 in)
275 x 275 cm (108 x 108 in)
250 x 275 cm (98 x 110 in)

These sheet sizes are for man-made and treated cotton and flannelette including poly/cotton


Towels get much harder wear than most people realize so it's important to have plenty so you can rotate them regularly. Ideally a towel should dry you quickly and efficiently but not end up as a sodden rag that looks as if it in turn needs a spell in the tumble drier.

Towels have different finishes. True terry toweling has loops on both sides while Turkish toweling looks similar but feels softer. Friction towels feel harsh to sensitive skins as they dry best when rubbed firmly over the body. Jacquard towels have a firm close loop and dry particularly well. Velvet finish towels are soft and should be dabbed rather than rubbed over the body to dry well.

Pure cotton towels last longer than those with some synthetic fiber mixed in but do tend to shrink when first washed-up to 20 per cent in some cases. So buy the biggest in the range to allow for this.

Check towels before you buy to see that they are well made. Pull on the width to see that the backing is firm and the pile not patchy. Look for good firm and the pile not patchy. Look for good fir selvedges and well turned-in edges. Towels are often good buys in sales. especially if you are not too fussy about design. If they are sold as seconds or substandard ask what the fault is. Even if you decide they are not good enough for bath or hand towels they could be useful for swimming or the beach. You can make your own towels by buying toweling by the meter or yard and machining your own edges. This is considerably cheaper than buying ready-made towels and a particularly good idea for roller towels as you can select the exact length you want them to be.

Wash coloured towels separately from other items until you are sure that dye bleeding has ceased. Some deep-dyed towels may always need to be washed on their own.

Table Linen

Few people now have the time or inclination to cope with the luxury of pure damask table linen which needs such careful ironing. Polyester/cotton mixtures are the best choice for everyday table cloths and napkins which need repeated laundering, even if you feel you want to splash out on a natural fabric for use on special occasions.
You can buy cloths to fit virtually any shape of table-rectangular, square, round or oblong or make your own from fabrics which go with your decoration scheme. Many people today do not bother with cloths but use mats of a writable or washable variety to show off the surface of their table. Some table surfaces are reasonably heat resistant and can just be wiped clean after a meal.


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    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Excellent article on bedding and linens. Most of my sheets and towels are bamboo - I really like them. There is nothing like soft, cosy towels and sheets. Rated this hub Up, useful and interesting. Thanks.

    • MyFavoriteBedding profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      Yes, 100% cotton towels do shrink, but they are the best, and are the softest, in my opinion!

    • viking305 profile image

      L M Reid 

      7 years ago from Ireland

      Wow a very comprehensive review of the best bedding and linens available to buy.

      I do agree with you though the most important thing to take care of first is to buy a very comforatble bed. Nothing like a nice sleep in a great bed!

    • lionel1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautiful bedding and linen, thank you for taking the time to share this with us.

    • RedElf profile image


      7 years ago from Canada

      Lots of excellent choices here. I am a big fan of bamboo sheets and towels.


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