September 24, 2010

A Lesson in: Sheets

To follow up the recent post about choosing the right duvet, today’s post in on sheets. In the following article, I will go over the different categories of sheets, hopefully making sense of all the ‘terms’ that you see when looking to purchase. The most important things to consider when purchasing sheets is what they are made of, and the thread count.

Polyester vs Cotton
The only 100% polyester sheets you will find out there are satin, and this type of sheet is not as romantic as you might think. Because polyester is a synthetic material, it does not breath at all. So if you have sheets on your bed that don’t breathe at all (picture sleeping on a pretty, red piece of SeranWrap), then you will sweat. I promise. This will cause your evening to not be nearly as sexy as you were planning.

Most sheets with polyester in them will be 50% polyester 50% cotton. Any mix like this will not wrinkle as bad as cotton, as the polyester will make it behave, but it will not breath as well as a 100% cotton sheet. I personally, will never again sleep on a sheet that isn’t 100% cotton (other than Mexico vacations!)

But a poly/cotton mix is perfect for a child’s bed. Sheets for children, I highly recommend a 50% polyester 50% cotton sheet with 200 thread count. Super durable – you can wash it a million times without it tearing.

Thread Count
You probably hear about thread count a lot when looking for new sheets. This is very important (it is what will make your sheets feel nice. Or not.) To explain what thread count is: it is the number of threads counted per square inch. A 300 thread count set of sheets will have 300 threads per square inch. The more threads per square inch, the smaller they are – giving you a softer finish.

‘Percale’ is a word that you will probably hear a lot (especially with the older generation), but beware! The term ‘Percale’ mean that the thread count is 'at least' 180. This is a VERY low thread count (I wouldn’t let my dogs sleep on it), although it is commonly advertised as luxurious. The minimum thread count I would ever say someone should purchase is 200.

Working in a bedding store for years allowed me to purchase a lot of different thread counts. But higher is not always better. I own a set of sheets that is 1000 thread count ($350.00 set. Expensive, yes, but I’m so worth it.) When you get to a 800, 900 or 1000 thread count set of sheets – there are so many threads per square inch that it makes the sheets very thick. With the sheets being so thick, they are actually substantially warmer.

If you want a straight answer of what thread count is the perfect thread count: 300-400 thread count. Anything over 400 thread count is unnecessary (trust me). I have at least 5 million sets of sheets, and the ones that end up on my bed most often are: 400 thread counts, 600 thread count, 900 thread count, and my way-too-expensive 1000.

TIPS for Sheet Care
- Don’t want you sheets to pill? Wash your sheets before you use them for the first time. This will get rid of all the excess fibers from the manufacture (which, if left on, will roll into the little balls we call ‘pilling’)
- Have sheets that are bright or dark colours? Or have sheets that have a different colour accent on them? Before washing them for the first time, soak them in vinegar (1 cup of WHITE vinegar to a full washing machine or bathtub). Then ring out, and wash as normal.

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