Visit any homewares shop or trawl any website, and you’ll be met with a bewildering array of choices in the bed linen department. Sizes. Colours. Fabric choices. Thread count. What does it all mean, and how important is it? Here are our tips on how to choose what’s right for you.
First of all, yes, it does matter! The right bedding will not only look good and provide a finishing touch to your bedroom, it can also help you get a better night’s sleep. Sheets with a high proportion of man-made material such as nylon or polyester don’t tend to breathe as well and can make you too hot. Alternatively, pure cotton sheets can be cold when you first get into bed. Once you’ve decided on the right option, it’s worth spending as much as you can on investing in quality products. Bed linen can last for years and years and will actually get softer and more comfortable with age, so it’s worth getting it right.
The ‘gold standard’ of cotton bedding is Egyptian cotton, made from thread that’s famously fine, smooth and hard wearing. Cotton bedding should sport a label declaring its ‘thread count’. This relates to the number of vertical and horizontal threads that go into making up an inch of fabric, so a sheet marked ‘200TC’ will contain 200 threads to the inch. As a general guide, the higher the thread count the smoother and strong the fabric, and the more expensive it tends to be. Cotton sheets wash and wear well but can feel cold, so you may need to an an electric blanket or hot water bottle in the winter. They can also look crumpled when washed and the duvet cover and pillow cases at least will probably need ironing.
This is the practical choice for a busy lifestyle. It’s a blend of cotton and polyester, and it washes well, dries quickly and tends not to need ironing. It’s a great choice for everyday or for children’s beds which need changing frequently. Polycotton sheets aren’t as cool as cotton sheets so might not feel as nice in hotter weather. Look for a blend that contains a high proportion of cotton, as this tends to indicate better quality.
Yes, it is possible to buy pure silk sheets! Some people swear by it, as it’s naturally hypo-allergenic and feels smooth and luxurious. It is more difficult to care for than cotton, though, so not as suitable for just throwing into the machine if you’re busy. It’s also comparatively expensive, and needs to be air-dried rather than tumble dried.
Fitted sheets vs. flat sheets
Fitted sheets are tailored to fit neatly with elastic over the four corners of the mattress, leaving no unsightly bumps or wrinkles. Flat sheets need to be folded over the mattress and tucked underneath it. Which you choose is very much a matter of personal choice, but fitted sheets can be difficult to put on single-handedly!
Plain vs. patterned
There is a huge array of bedding on the market in every hue and pattern you could possibly imagine. If you’re going to spend a lot of money on top quality bedding, though, there’s an argument for choosing a plain colour and then ‘dressing’ it with throws, bed runners and cushions. This means that you can change your look and colour scheme relatively easily and inexpensively without replacing all the bed linen.
Whatever bedding you end up choosing, it’s important to care for it correctly. Ideally, bedding should be washed at least once a week at 60 degrees C (check the care label for individual bedding), which will remove dust mites and keep everything fresh and clean. Sweet dreams!
Main image credit: Pixabay 20200