How To Shop for the Softest Sheets
Our tips on what to look for in ply, thread-count, and cotton types will help you find the perfect set of sheets for your bed.
Sheet Thread Count Guide
Whether one settles into a bed for warmth to escape howling winter winds or desires a set of cool, breathable sheets to escape a scorching summer sun, the perfect bed sheets are paramount to a restful night of sleep. While most can be easily persuaded to swing for a more luxurious set of sheets, the labeling and thread count terminology in sheet shopping can be misleading.
Don’t rely merely on the "thread count" factor of a sheet set. Thread count is defined as the number of threads, horizontally and vertically, per square inch of a fabric. Shoppers should realize that there are many factors that affect a sheet’s thread count.
Check the ply of the fabric used in the sheets. The ply of the fabric is used to describe how many threads are wrapped together into one single thread. Single-ply fabrics use threads on their own as opposed to double-ply fabrics that are made up of two pieces of thread twisted together. So technically, a thread count of 800 could be made of only 400 double-ply threads or could contain 800 single-ply threads.
If you are looking for a heavier, more durable sheet set, choose fabric with double-ply fabric. Single-ply fabric sheets are going to appear thinner and more delicate.
Recognize the different types of cotton sheets. Egyptian cotton is praised for its breathability and is highly absorbent. Pima cotton, grown in the Southwest United States and in South America, is known to be long lasting and a staple in large households. Organic cotton -- grown without herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers -- will have the mark of United States government-approved certification on the package.
Know the weave you are after. For a silk-like cotton sheet, closely woven percale sheeting is the best option. Flannel cotton sheets, with a twill weave, maintain a raised surface that delivers a fluffy appearance along with an ultra soft and cozy feel. For some stretch in your sheets, the plain-stitch knitted jersey sheet would be your best bet. And for a more luxurious appearance, the sateen weave would be appropriate with its weave construction placing most of the threads on the surface.
Test it out before buying it. Most bedding retailers have some sort of sheet samples in their stores for customers to touch before purchasing them. The perfect set of sheets comes down to two factors: the way they look in your bedroom and how they feel against your skin, so don’t rely on the labeling to tell you how the sheets feel. Give them a feel for yourself. After all, you will be spending around one-third of every day inside of them.