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Understanding Bed Sheets: Differences Between Well Made and Poorly Made Sheets

You've built a perfect sanctuary with a heavenly mattress, cloud-like pillows, and...wait. Itchy bed sheets?  Now, that won't do at all. 

Identifying whether the bed sheets you've been eyeing for a month are of great quality (or not) will require more than a price tag as proof of quality.

You'll need to have a firm grasp on how sheets are made, the materials, the weaves, the staple length and much more. 

Keep on reading for the full breakdown on what factors make high-quality bed sheets a gift from the heavens, and what to be on the lookout for when you're out buying your own.

Breaking Down Bed Sheets: The Essential Factors

Whenever a conversation about bedsheets pops up, all that people talk about is the thread count. 

Thread count, while a solid indicator of quality, is not the be-all-end-all of what makes bed sheets great (or not).

In the simplest of terms, thread count refers to the number of horizontal and vertical threads available in a square inch of fabric. The general consensus is that the higher the count, the better. 

Yet, thread count on its own is just a single metric of quality. In addition, there are reasons why it's actually becoming increasingly insignificant as time goes by. Let's dive into the more robust indicators of quality.  

What Is Plying And Cases Of Thread-Count Ripoff

The way plying works is by having multiple strands of yarn twisted together to form a single thread.

In the case of single-ply fabrics, the material is rather lightweight and has an airy feel. Single-ply fabrics are made with individual threads, unlike two-ply fabrics.

You might be wondering, what does that have to do with thread counts?

At a certain point, some manufacturers increased their official thread count number by using two-ply sheets and counting them all together.

The right way to so would have been counting the threads per ply, instead of multiplying them by the number of plies available.

In 2005, the Federal Trade Commission got involved and decided that plied yarn could only be counted as a single thread in order to determine the thread count. 

This is why we consider thread count to be rather low on the list of essential quality factors for bed sheets.

Staple Length And Why It Matters

We all know about the softness, durability and sheer beauty of high-quality bed sheets. Yet, not all cotton is made alike. 

This is where staple length comes in to save the day and clear things up. When you look at the fluffy white part of a cotton plant, it looks like a ball of white cotton candy.

However, once you start pulling it apart, you'll get a little mountain of fibers. In order to determine the quality of cotton, you'll take a close look at the length of the fibers. 

The length of the fibers is what is known as the staple. There are many different staple lengths available on the market, so here are the most common ones.

  • Short Staple Fiber: It's around 1.125 inches long, and is considered to be the lowest quality cotton
  • Long Staple Fiber: Around 1.25 inches long, and is considered to be high quality
  • Extra-Long Staple Fiber: From 1.375 inches to two inches long, and is considered to be the finest quality. 

Materials Used

Now that you know about staple lengths, it's time to check out the most common materials that are used on the making of bed sheets.

Of course, they come in a variety of staple lengths and are known for having unique and different qualities. 

American Upland

American Upland is made out of shorter-length cotton. It tends to have a rougher feel to it and is commonly used in the making of bed sheets.

When you're reading a label and it tells you that it's made out of "100 percent cotton" it's more likely to be American Upland than not.

Pima

This material is also made out of cotton, and it's known for its strength and durability. 

It's made out of long-staple cotton fiber that creates a very soft weave and subtle sheen. If you're looking for high-quality cotton, then Pima is a great option.

In addition, you'll find that Pima is also known as Supima in the cases of products that are made with American-grown Pima. 

Egyptian Cotton

The crowned king of cotton would be Egyptian cotton. It's the highest-quality cotton on the market, and it's made out of the finest and longest staple. 

Due to the lovely length of the staple used, it creates a fabric that's incredibly soft yet tremendously durable. 

Once upon a time, you could have only gotten Egyptian cotton sheets in specialty stores. Thankfully, now you can find them in most department stores or online. 

Linen

Linen is one of those unicorn materials that are not only delightfully breathable, but it also becomes better (and softer) with age. 

The trick with Linen sheets is knowing how to care for them. If you do, then they'll last a very long time. 

The Importance Of The Weave

Last, but certainly not least, you'll need to check out the weave of the bed sheets if you want to know how they tend to keep the bed's temperature, as well as how they'll perform over time. 

Percale

Also known as "plain weave", this material will be made out of high-quality combed cotton that's tightly woven together. 

It has a smooth and soft finish with a light feel to the material. It's considered a great option if you tend to get hot when you sleep.

Flannel

These are cotton sheets that have a plain or twill weave. They're rather soft and pliable. 

Sateen

This weave has a specific technique that weaves four threads over and one under. It creates really smooth fabric that has a lustrous feel that's closer to silk than cotton. 

Furthermore, it's a bit heavier than other weaves. If you tend to feel a bit cold when you sleep, then this is a good option. Yet, please note that in terms of durability, sateen sheets tend to be a bit fragile. 

Ready to Make Your Selection?

It can be overwhelming to try and jump into the world of bed sheets without a guide on hand. 

Thankfully, now you can make your selection with confidence as to the type of material you're going for as well as it's durability and feel.

However, you can have the best bed sheets in the world and still not be able to sleep soundly because you don't know how to clean and maintain your bedroom.

Our blog is full of the best tips and tricks that will help you create the bedroom of your dreams, so make sure to go and check it out.

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