Shopping for Bed Linens

By K. K. , last updated December 21, 2011

The bed is the most critical aspect of your bedroom, and special attention needs to be paid when shopping for bed linens. The bedroom is the one room of your home that needs to be a true refuge from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You want the bedroom to be comfortable and relaxing while reading, watching a little television and sleeping, and high quality bed linens can significantly impact this space. Consider several factors when choosing fabrics, including the room’s color palette, a desired style and product cost and quality.

Quality and Cost

Select the best quality of bed linens that fit within your budget. If you spend a lot of time in your bedroom, you may want to splurge on linens. High-quality bedding lasts longer, offers more comfort and generally appears luxurious. Natural-fiber fabrics, such as linen, silk, Egyptian cotton and Pima cotton, are popular choices because of they offer an extremely soft feel, and they breathe well. Avoid purchasing jersey knit or flannel sheets because neither is very breathable and may leave you too hot for a comfortable night’s sleep.

Thread Counts

Thread count, which represents the number of threads in one square inch of fabric, is vital when choosing bed sheets. High thread counts offer a tight weave, which makes the sheet strong and durable. However, the higher the thread count, the more expensive the bedding. If cost is a concern, start with at least 200 thread count sheets. Counts of less than 200 are thinner and often feel uncomfortable.

Fabric Weaves

A plain weave in which the threads cross over and under each other is the most popular bedding weave. Sateen sheets feature a satin weave, which offers a smooth and lustrous feel. Sateen sheets can be pricey because the weave results in a higher thread count. The satin weave features a pattern of one strand of yarn under and four strands over so that more strands of yarn are set on the top side. The satin pattern results in a satin-like feeling next to the skin, but unlike satin, sateen sheets lack the slippery feel and won’t slide off the bed.

Mattress Size

If you have an extra-thick mattress, make sure to purchase fitted sheets that have extra-deep pockets. If the pocket size is too small, the fitted sheet forever will pop off or you run the risk of damaging the elastic of the sheet pocket. If possible, select an oversized sheet to allow for laundering shrinkage. You also can buy fitted sheets that have elastic all the way around that offer a snug fit and eliminate the possibility of popping off.


If you’re allergic to dust, avoid buying synthetic bed linens, especially no-iron sheets, which are coated in wrinkle-resistant chemicals that can trap dust. Natural-fiber fabrics are inherently hypo-allergenic.

Care Instructions

Avoid any fabrics that are dry-clean only. Can you imagine taking all your bed linens to the cleaners every time you changed the sheets? If allergies are not a concern, you may want to buy no-iron synthetic fiber linens. Sheets that are 100 percent cotton feel wonderful, but they must be ironed for a crisp look, and they will shrink after washing.

Style and Colors

Bed linens come in a large variety of styles and colors. Consider buying linens that have decorative edging or embellishments at the top of the sheet. These styles offer a sense of elegance when the bed is turned down. Pillowcases with decorative touches also give a bedding ensemble a finished look. Choose colors that match or complement the room’s existing décor. Don’t discount white sheets because some fabrics allow bleaching to take out tough stains, such as wine.

Sets and Individual Pieces

When buying bed linens, make sure you always have at least two complete nice sets to allow for laundry days. Usually, it is less expensive to purchase linens in sets than it is to buy a separate bottom sheet, top sheet and pillowcases. However, buying individually pieces allows for mixing and matching if desired. For example, you may want a solid-colored bottom sheet with a printed top sheet and pillowcases in colors that complement the sheets or comforter or bedspread. For the best selection of styles, colors and fabrics, purchase your bed linens from stores that specialize in bedding. Avoid bed-in-a-bag sets that are sold at discount or department stores. These less expensive sets often have low-quality bed linens that are not very durable and do not fit the bed well.

Keep these guidelines in mind when shopping and you will be sure to purchase bed linens that will add beauty and comfort to your room.

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