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How to Shop for Sheets

Updated on January 29, 2013
cotton pillowcase
cotton pillowcase | Source

Sheet Shopping Suggestions

With so many different kinds of sheets on the market how do you choose? Do you pick thread count over fabric? Do you pick the weave over the feel? What about being eco-friendly and purchasing only the eco-friendly sheets such as organic cotton, bamboo, and hemp? Would you prefer pure natural linen?

Although our sheets are often referred to as linens, or bed linens, and are advertised as such, they are rarely made out of this ecologically sound product. Pure natural linen combines the softness of cotton with the medicinal properties of flax. The high density of linen fabric and the durabiity of the linen fiber gives it at least twice the life span of cotton sheets. But many people remember them as being itchy and opt for cotton only. (See health benefits of pure linen below)

The following are some suggestions for when you are ready to shop for new sheets.

Sheet Shopping Suggestions;

The All Important Thread Count - knowing the thread count has become the gold standard for buying sheets. There was a time that a 200 thread count was considered a vast improvement over the standard sheets. But now sheets can be easily found in the 1200-1500 thread count range.

We are told that the higher the thread count the softer the sheets will feel. But this is not always true. When it comes to just counting the threads some manufacturers will combine two short fibers to make it one - this will add to the thread count but not to the softness of the sheets. For softness, longer fibers are needed such as in:

- Egyptian cotton

- pima cotton

- Supima

These are three terms to be familiar with as they will provide a softer, smoother, silkier feel when you consider the fabric.

The Fabric:

- cotton - For affordability, the 100 percent cotton sheets are the most popular. They offer comfort at a good price and come in various thread counts.

- polyester mix - Some sheets are mixed with polyester. While the polyester mix is wrinkle-resistant and can offer a crisp cool feel, they are not as breathable as cotton.

- silk - While some sheets are advertised as silk they may be polyester with a silky feel. Real silk sheets are luxurious but tend to be dry-clean only and high maintenance.

- linen - For hot climates pure linen is ideal as it does absorb moisture easily. Some brands can feel a little rough if you are used to cotton - but the roughness does have benefits (see linen info below).

The Weave: the overall feel and texture of your sheets has to do with the weave.

Percale Weaves - are tightly woven and give a silk-like feel

Sateen Weaves - place more threads on the sheet surface and while it does make the sheets feel softer they are also prone to pilling

Chambray Weaves - these stitches cross each other making for a lightweight feel

Eco-friendly Sheets:

Organic cotton - manufacturers claim many non-organic sheets are treated with formaldehyde to produce less wrinkles - sheets are not required to have labels informing you of what they were treated with. Organic sheets are not treated with toxic chemicals and save the planet by reducing the heavy use of pesticides. Conventional cotton growers use more pesticides than almost any other crop. Organic sheets, (I am noticing these ads on the internet) are being sold as the only sheets you should use in a baby's crib. Organic sheets should have a label certifiying that they are organic.

- organic cotton can also come in the same weaves mentioned above such as percale and sateen, as well as damask and jersey

Hemp - organic hemp sheets offer more strength than organic cotton sheets. They are similar in look and feel to linen; they have a crisp finish. Hemp and linen sheets are not measured by their thread count; they are measured by fabric and weight. Like organic cotton, these sheets are highly recommended if you are chemically sensitive or allergic to industrial chemicals used in coventional synthetic or cotton sheets. (Did you know, at one time, the law required farmers to grow hemp? see link below)

Bamboo - pure 100 percent bamboo fiber offers sheets that feel silky-smooth, has wicking and ventilation abilities and resist wrinkling when laundered. They are from a renewable and pesticide-free source.

Linen - (see information next):

Health Benefits of Pure Linen Sheets:

- pure linen is known to suppress live pathenogenic microflora, fungi and bacteria

- it is known for having the excellent abiity to absorb superfluous moisture. Further, it provides an optimum heat exchange and enhanced comfort

- it is not known to cause allergies

- eliminates many kinds of skin irritaitons

- has a light massaging effect due to the microscopic breaks in the fabric

- is favorable in stimulating blood flow and promoting relaxation

- reduces static electricity

- has a cool feeling in the summer and a warm feeling in the winter

The Feel:

If you are thinking of replacing your sheets with linen, or any other kind of fabric, and are not sure what kind of sheets to invest in, it is recommended that you buy only the pillowcases, initially, and see if you like the feel.

If you are in the market for a pillow see the link below:


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    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 4 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Glad to hear it Ashlee. I have stayed far away from sheets with polyester - I find they feel oily. Thanks for commenting!

    • profile image

      Ashlee 5 years ago

      I was so confused as to why my legs felt itchy and tingly at night, i thought it might be my sheets which are a polyester-cotton mix and i was right. So i changed to pure cotton and its all fine! So happy now!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      So glad you found the information so useful Ruby H Rose. Thanks for your comment.

      Ah this is how it used to be down GoodLady - we would inherent wonderful fabric items from elders. I remember when good wool coats were handed down generation after generation. Wish I had some hard old linen sheets. Thanks for writing!

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Wish I could bookmark this on Hub Pages for when we'll need sheets again. We won't need them for a hundred years though. I'm a comfy bedlinen lady with some wonderful sheets,(handed down, generational fine quality ones) including a pair of hard old linen sheets!

      Fantastic information.I'll pass it on to my sister in law, who is also a 'fine' bed linens lady!

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 5 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Wow. Now I think I can wait a while longer to get a new bed. I am going to try new sheets first! Great hub by the way. Wonderful information.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks klor33 - I am ready to shop so will check your link!

    • profile image

      klor33 5 years ago

      The best and most affordable linen sheets in US

      Sofia's Linen

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Maybe they were real cotton Treasuresofheaven - remember how back in the day real cotton used to shrink - so now we have more synthetic mixes or cotton sheets treated with chemicals or the cotton comes preshrunk.

      I'm glad you like the hub and it's nice to meet you too. I'm enjoying your hubs and congrats on being a hub nugget winner!

    • Treasuresofheaven profile image

      Sima Ballinger 7 years ago from Michigan

      BkCreative, I have a couple sheet sets that shrunk. That's a bummer. Do you know why sheets shrink? -- I think they were 600 Ct Cotton. I have never had 1200 Ct Sheets, I will have to get some. Thanks for the good information.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Oooh, I'm so glad you found the answer here msorensson. Thanks for letting me know! Yay!

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 7 years ago

      I love sheets...and it is always fascinating when I ask a question and it is answered immediately...the answer is the 1500 count Egyptian sheet that you put up. Thanks.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Michael thanks so much for this information. It is nearly impossible to find true 'linen' here in the US. Fortunately I have cousins in the UK and can ask them if they can pick up the sheets.

      Meanwhile I really like the Belgium weave the is 'dew-retted' - I'd like that process. What a pleasure this would be and thanks a million for all you help! Yay!

    • profile image

      Micheal 7 years ago


      Did you ever manage to find linen sheets? In my own research I have found a few companies offering them, mostly based in Europe (I have no link to any of them):

      This is one of the few Irish linen weavers left, they also make table and fashion linens. Interestingly you can buy fabric by the yard if you want to make your own sheets/cloths. They're also the last maker of double damask linen in Ireland.

      This is a US website that imports linen and makes up bedding in the US.

      This is another UK website specialising in bed linen in linen, cotton and silk.

      This is a Belgian weaver that makes organic and chemical free linen. Their linen is 'dew-retted' i.e. left naturally to break down in water instead of being chemically treated. This is a lot slower (traditional) but much more eco-friendly, and means waste-water is minimised.

      I hope this informs all and leads to a better nights sleep for those that decide to make the switch.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      More than anything Rebecca E. I want linen sheets so I too can reap all the benefits. But so hard to find in the USA. When I travel abroad again - I will look in England - where I can find them. Imagine, all we call linen in the US - does not have a drop of linen!

      Perhaps when you find them you will write a hub and share the benefits. Thanks so much for your input!

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      very informative bookmarked, and going to buy linen sheets. if of course I can find them.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're welcome pmccray! Glad the information was useful. I'd love to have real linen sheets one day - real linen. But they are impossible to find here in the US. Imagine, we call all sheets linen now - even without linen!

      Thanks for writing!

    • pmccray profile image

      pmccray 7 years ago from Utah

      Very informative...I just found out my so called silk sheets are a blend and with the high maintenance...I don't want any real ones. You'll never finish paying for them. Bookingmarking another great hub...thanks creativeone

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Glad you found the information useful Gretchl85! Thanks for commenting!

    • Gretchel85 profile image

      Gretchel85 8 years ago

      Thanks again, another good one!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Youre welcome creativeone59!

      It's always best to research and get exactly what you want. I'm disappointed that pure linen sheets are hard to find in the US - but still companies are advertising sheets as 'linen' but they are not!

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Great hub, because I'm not up on all kins of sheet. Thanks. creativeone59

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Interesting Veronica Allen. Now we have to wonder just how much the chemicals in our sheets are doing damage to our children.

      I'll keep up with you to find out how the linen sheets work for you. I am going to invest one fine day!

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 8 years ago from Georgia

      Great hub! My toddler suffers from eczema and currently we are using 100% cotton sheets. With all the benefits of the lined sheets, I just might try these out as well.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Now that you mention it, fastfreta, I remember those saucy sexy silk sheets and that was the complaint, slipping all over. But they felt good.

      I haven't heard talk of linen sheets here in decades. But after doing all this research I must have a set now. It just makes so much sense - this natural fiber, the flax benefits, the texture. They just sound like a good investment and I have decided I want the best - because then you can buy less and keep and enjoy it longer.

      I'm tired of spending good money on all this junk that you have to replace so often or finding out it is toxic or sprayed with pesticides. I want a few great things and that's it!

      Everything we buy should be beneficial to our well-being. Why not?

      Thanks for the compliment!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      BK, this is a very interesting hub. I don't think I've ever heard of linen sheets. I bought a set of silk sheets once and kept slipping and sliding all over the bed. I think that I would love to try the linen sheets for the reasons you gave. Thank you very much for all the research. Good hub.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello Shalini Kagal! In all my research I have read the most amazing things about linen sheets. Yet they are hard to find here. You will go into any store and they will tell you linen linen linen. But that has become the generic term for all bedding. Not true linen.

      Glad to hear you are a linen lover. Next time I shop I will try to find the linen. I am sold!

      Hi free4india. Nice to meet you. The prices vary so much I don't know where to begin! But it does seem like the better quality sheets are all in the same price range. But convential bedding can run from very cheap to extremely expensive - but I don't know why. Maybe advertising or a designer label.

      It is good to know what makes up a sheet so you won't pay for thread count which is one of the biggest selling factors but not know that those are short threads put together and not long thread as in Egytpian cotton which is long thread and should cost a bit more.

    • free4india profile image

      free4india 8 years ago

      I never knew fabric matters... I always believed only sleep matters :)

      Anyways... you could write an article on why costs are different for different types of cloth materials.... I think you know the topic well...

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 8 years ago from India

      I love linen sheets - didn't know they suppressed bacteria, fungi and pathogens though!