Choosing the Right Cotton Sheets

choosing the right cotton sheets for you

Have you ever been confused with all the different kinds of cotton sheets out there? All the labels touting thread count, percale, and Pima. It can be confusing.

For me, I'm all about soft, smooth sheets and I couldn't care less about wrinkles. They get wrinkly when you sleep on them anyway. Other people like sheets to feel crisp and, for some reason I shall never understand, feel the need to iron them. So how can you know what you're getting before you buy?
There are three different types of cotton: American Upland, Pima, and Egyptian.

Most cotton sheets are made with American Upland cotton. American Upland fibers are considered long or short staple cotton. The staple length refers to how long the cotton fibers are before being spun into thread. Shorter fibers can be rougher and more likely to pill, while Extra-Long Staple(ELS) fibers are supposed to be stronger, more durable, and make a softer fabric.

closeup image of white cotton boll on brown stem

Pima cotton and some types of Egyptian cotton are considered ELS, with a fiber length that is 50% longer than American Upland.

Pima cotton is grown in the American Southwest and is only 3% of cotton grown worldwide. 1% of Pima cotton is labeled as Supima, signifying that it has passed the Supima Association's strict standards for quality. Pima is considered one of the finest types of cotton.

ELS Egyptian cotton is usually considered to be the finest cotton. Grown in the Nile River Valley in Egypt, real ELS Egyptian cotton is certified by the Cotton Egypt Association and labeled with a black triangle symbol with a cotton boll symbol in the center. Some merchandisers have mislead buyers by labeling sheets as Egyptian cotton fraudulently.

Thread count refers to how many fibers per square inch. A good thread count ranges from 200 to 800, and the higher the thread count, the more durable and soft the sheets. However, anything over 800 is impossible without adding in shorter fibers that compromise the durability of the sheets and make it more prone to pilling.

navy blue ikat cotton sheets on bed with green plant

gray and white farmhouse style master bedroom with burlap pillow and wreath

light blue-gray bedroom with white bedding quilt and antique stained furniture

There are also three main weaves used in cotton sheets.

1. Percale is a durable weave that creates a crisp feel.

2. Sateen is a softer, less durable weave that creates a soft sheet with a sheen to the fabric.

3. Jersey weave feels and wears like a t-shirt.


I usually buy Threshold 300-400 thread count sateen sheets like those linked below. Because I definitely don't have hundreds of dollars to blow on sheets. I even used them to make my DIY duvet cover!

Hopefully this info makes it a bit easier to navigate the sheet aisle!

     
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How to choose the right cotton sheets

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