There’s nothing worse at the end of a hard day than climbing into bed and hunkering down onto rough sheets. Feeling each teeny tiny ball rub up against your freshly shaved legs. Uuuuugh! I can’t stand it. Even a Frugal Diva like myself will splurge on good quality sheets, I consider it money well spent. But, how do you recognize a set of quality sheets? How many sets do you need? And how to you keep them nice for years? Well, let’s explore those questions together.
Cotton Sheets Aren’t Created Equal
Cotton – This is by far the most popular sheets. Cotton breathes, so it will trap heat in the winter and allow cool air to pass through in the summer, and since cotton softens over time it becomes a snuggly nirvana. It is easier to clean, but it will shrink and wrinkle if not properly handled.
But, all cotton isn’t created equal. When choosing 100% cotton sheets the importance lays in the type of fiber and less in the thread count. The thread count is the number of threads in a square inch, but if the fiber is of poor quality, you just have more of that crappy stuff per square inch. So then the higher the thread count, potentially the stiffer the sheet. It’s quality vs quantity.
The queens of cotton are Egyptian & Pima ( made in the USA baby!). They have the longest, strongest and therefore more durable fibers, so you can get a really good set of quality sheets in a thread count of 300 to 400. And if they’re combed cotton, even better! This is when they comb the short fibers out leaving just the longer ones. If you have sensitive skin, your best choice is 100% cotton.
The Other Usual Suspects
Bamboo – Is another great choice for a cooler sheet. Fans claim that is it softer than cotton and more durable. Bamboo Sheets are naturally resistant to bacteria, will wick away moisture, and is hypoallergenic. It is an environmentally friendly natural sheet material. If you have sinus or allergies, this might be your best choice.
Linen – This is a luxury. Linen Sheets are a smooth, cool sheet, that is also breathable, making it great for summer. And it will soften like butter over the years. If you don’t enjoy the rumpled look, then linen will need extra fru fru care like ironing. Made from a flax plant, Linen is environmentally friendly as well. However, 100% Linen can be pretty expensive, so a linen/cotton blend might be a better option. If you suffer from night sweats, this one might be the one.
Polyester – Poly is a synthetic but it makes for a crisper more durable sheet and they are usually more affordable. It keeps it shape over the years and comes out of the dryer virtually wrinkle free. But over time you will encounter pills or those balls I was talking about. And Poly traps heat and moisture making them uncomfortable in the summer. Poly also attracts static and absorbs oils making it harder to fight stains.
If you chose to use these sheets, look for a good Cotton/Poly blend of no more than 30% Poly and your sheets should last for years. But if your legs think you’re in a kick-boxing tournament while your sleeping, then poly isn’t the choice for you. The more friction these sheets receive the faster those teeny tiny balls form.
What’s Left – Yes, I’ve left out several other choices because that’s up to personal choice. Jersey Knits, Silk, Satin, and Flannel. But in case you’re curious, here’s my take on each of them in order. Too stretchy, too slippery, just no and I don’t live in Alaska.
You might have questions about percale vs sateen, that’s all about the weave of the fabric and it’s pretty much another personal choice. But there is a difference. Percale is a matte weave, it has a crisp cool feel. While Sateen is a heavier but softer weave.
Finally, be sure to measure the depth of your mattress before buying sheets. And if you have a pad on top make sure to include that in your measurement.
Congratulations! You’ve picked the sheets that work for you! But, how many should you have? Well, you need at least 3 sets of sheets. Rotate them so one set doesn’t get used more often than the others.
For The Long Haul
Most experts say that a good set of quality sheets should last you 6 -8 years, but if properly cared for that could be as long as 12 years. I can attest to that, I have sheets older than my favorite marriage. I’ve gathered some tips to help you extend the life of your sheets and you can find it on my post Linen Lessons.
Now it’s time for my personal favorite bit of advice for making your sheets last longer. Shower, shave, clip and pedi. Hey! I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell you! Dirt, oil and sweat aren’t good for your sheets, and if you only change them once a week and you don’t bathe first….well, that’s a lot of grime piled on top of each other. As for the others, let’s face it, those unshaved legs……you might as well take a sander to the sheets. Same for toenails. AND have you ever wondered why your sheets seem to rip where your feet are positioned? PEDI!
I’m seriously thinking about asking my husband to put on thigh highs before coming to bed, but I don’t think he would. He would inconsiderately weigh his humiliation factor against my sheets quality of life, and my sheets would lose. Yeah, he’s isn’t going to just hand me that blackmail opportunity. Pity.
Happy Sheet Shopping!