Should you pick crisp cotton or rumpled linen – and does thread count really matter? How do I choose good bed linen and what determines the quality bed linen?
But there are so many factors to think about when choosing your linen, from thread count to fabrics and how it’ll need looking after – what’s the right option for you?
5 Tips from Professionals
1. What exactly does thread count mean?
This means the number of horizontal and vertical threads in one square inch of fabric. It is often said that the higher the thread count, the smoother and more luxurious the fabric will be, and more durable, too.
As a general rule, look for a thread count of 200 or above, which should be clearly labelled on the packaging. Good quality yarns of cottons or linen will feel better after every subsequent wash and last for a lot longer.
– Kate Mooney of Houseology
Is it really that simple? Go and choose the label with the highest number of threads? But the problem is that a higher thread count doesn’t always mean a higher quality sheet.
Indeed, as the thread count rises, the fabric becomes softer, denser and warmer.
A super high thread count can actually indicate the presence of a lower-quality sheet.
– Vicki Fulop, co-founder of Brooklinen
Thread counts advertised in excess of 500 are often misrepresented by manufacturers in order to trick customers, according to Vicki Fulop. «They count not just each thread, but each ply spun together within each thread. As multi-ply construction is often used to strengthen lower-grade cotton, a super high thread count can actually indicate the presence of a lower-quality sheet».
2. Look for longer fiber lengths: the experts advise
Long-staple cotton is some of the strongest fiber out there. For example, in the case of cotton, a longer staple is a better staple. Longer cotton fibers can be spun into stronger, finer yarns, and produce extremely smooth and supple weaves. Shorter fibers can poke out of the weave, leading to a coarser, weaker fabric.
Sheet sets made with longer fibers should be clearly labeled on the package as having long-staple cotton.
3. Don’t let the term «single-ply» fool you
Unlike with toilet paper, multi-ply doesn’t necessarily mean more comfort when it comes to sheets. On the contrary, according to Fulop:
Single-ply yarn can only be spun from long-staple cotton, and results in light, soft, yet extremely long-lasting sheets. Multi-ply yarns are a group of weaker fibers twisted together to create a false strength. They use mostly lower-grade, shorter-staple cottons, which result in thicker, coarser and heavier threads.
The fineness and quality of the yarn is another hugely important factor – a sheet of better quality fibre with a lower thread count will feel softer and stand up to washing better than a lower quality fabric with a higher thread count.
4. The Organic Label
Bed linen is in direct contact with your skin, so it’s important to use safe, quality materials. Unfortunately, the term “organic” is often misused or manipulated when labeling textiles.
Fibers grown organically – but processed with toxic chemicals – may still carry the organic label. ‘Wrinkle-free’ or ‘permanent press’ labels should be avoided because manufacturers treat these fabrics with formaldehyde resin, a toxic chemical. Instead, you should look for bedding that is ‘Oeko-Tex’ certified, meaning free of harmful chemicals or toxins.
– Ariel Kaye, founder and CEO of Parachute
5. The weave of your sheet… How do I choose good bed linen?
Though you might not consider the weave of your sheets much before you purchase, it can be a big factor in how they ultimately look and feel.While percale and sateen are both made of cotton, the fabrics are distinguished by the distinctive ways in which they are woven.
How do I choose good bed linen? Percale’s classic, one-over-one-under weave makes it an exceptionally breathable fabric with a simple, matte finish. The cool, crisp-to-the-touch nature of Percale often appeals to sleepers that run warm at night. Sateen, on the other hand, has a unique four-over-one-under weave, which gives it a subtle, luxurious luster. Because of the tighter weave of the fabric, it tends to run warmer and is a favorite among sleepers that are cool throughout the night.
Sateen, on the other hand, has a unique four-over-one-under weave, which gives it a subtle, luxurious luster. Because of the tighter weave of the fabric, it tends to run warmer and is a favorite among sleepers that are cool throughout the night.