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9 Things to Consider When Outfitting Your Bed

Sheets are a good example of a household staple that has gotten way too complicated. It’s easy to throw your hands up when faced with too many choices, but if you think in terms of the basics—cotton, organic cotton, percale, bamboo, polyester and flannel—it can help you get to what you really need.

For starters, try not to get too bogged down in things like weave, thread count, finish, dyes and fashion or style. Today, the one you need to worry about is sheet depth—as in how deep the pockets are on your fitted sheet so that the one you buy actually fits your mattress—and more practical concerns like feel and durability. Save your money for a down comforter—now that’s something that can truly make a difference in sleeping comfort.

Style is Overrated
Forget worrying too much about color and fancy styles. Yes, you’ll spend up to 8 hours a night between your sheets, but no one is typically going to see them but you and your bed partner. So who really cares? Get something you like.

Material Differences
While you may be convinced that higher thread counts make for better sheets, it’s normally just a small degree of difference. It’s the material or fabric that really matters. And this is one situation where the higher the quality of the fabric, not the thread count, that makes a difference. The best sheets are made from organically grown, 100 percent long-fiber cotton, untreated (no sizing, shrink-proofing, wrinkle-free finishes). These sheets will keep you cool in summer, warm in winter, and feel really nice against your skin. Organic cotton sheets are also easier to clean and more stain resistant (yes, even untreated). The fabric doesn’t pill and it’s softer, and contains no chemicals, not even when the cotton is grown. So it’s safer for the people growing it and for you.

Look for Keywords
If you’re someone who really gets into bed linens and insists on paying more and want the best you can buy, look for these words on the packaging: “Egyptian long-staple,” “Pima,” and “Supima.”

Take a Step Up from Sateen
A word about sateen sheets. Sateen is all about weave, not style. These are indeed silky soft linens, but because of their weave, more likely to tear and pill. They’re also more expensive, especially the higher thread count you go. Step up to damasks or jacquards if you want this look and feel. They’re not as smooth textured because of their alternating weave pattern and you’ll pay more for them, but they’ll last longer than sateen. Better yet, go for the environmentally friendly bamboo, which mimics sateen, but is more durable and lasts a lot longer.

Jacquard for Fashion
If you insist on fashion in your bedroom—using colors and patterns—look for jacquard weaves, which are made of yarn-dyed fabrics, woven from colored yarns.

When it’s Cold Outside
Flannel is hard to beat in cold climates. Again, go for the 100% cotton, organic if you can afford it. It’s more durable, softer and less clammy than blended flannels featuring polyester.

T-Shirt Sheets
Jersey sheets are made from polyester and have become popular, mostly for kids’ bedding, over the past few years. Who else wants to sleep in linens that feel like tee shirts? Mostly kids and teens. The biggest draw here—they’re easy to care for.

Avoid the Sheen
Yes it’s tempting to buy sheets and pillowcases treated to give them a sheen, or keep them from shrinking, losing their shape, or wrinkling. But keep in mind the trade-off. A chemical soup: including alkalis, chlorine, formaldehyde, and silicon.

Pure-Finish Off Your Allergies
Suffer from allergies or chemical sensitivities? Looking for sheets for your kids or an immune-compromised senior or cancer patient? Go for organic or pure-finish sheets. Pure-finish linens are free of all traces of chemicals used during manufacturing. A couple of good resources: and

like downlinens