Pros and Cons of Cotton Sheets
While cotton is well-known as a fabric, some of its highlights and downsides aren’t known to the general public. Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of cotton sheets.
Pros of Cotton Sheets
- Temperature regulating in most weaves, meaning that they’ll keep you cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather
- Most cotton sheets increase in softness over time and with washes
- A wide variety of variations, from flannel to percale and sateen, are available
- Easy to find in almost any color, size, style, and price point
Cons of Cotton Sheets
- Can be prone to wrinkling, so if you dislike ironing or steaming this is a consideration
- Ill-made sets can deteriorate with time and improper maintenance
- Some weaves and cotton types may take time to break in and feel soft to sleep on
How to Pick the Right Sheets for You
An essential part of your sleep experience, bed sheet sets shouldn’t be overlooked in lieu of fancy bedding and decor. They’re like an envelope for your body, contributing to or lessening the likelihood that you’ll get a great night’s sleep. Cotton sheets come in different weaves, thread counts, and have unique textures, feels, breathability levels, and moisture-wicking properties that can cater to your preferences.
Here’s a brief overview of what to consider when selecting cotton sheets for your bed:
- Seasonality – If you live in a climate that’s warm year-round, percale sheets can keep you cool. If you leave somewhere seasonal, consider sateen sheets for the winter and percale sheets for the warm seasons.
- Sleeper Type – Sleeping position doesn’t come into play very much with sheet sets, but whether or not you sleep hot does. Hot sleepers will enjoy breathable varieties of cotton bed sheets, like those made in Percale weaves and with moderate thread counts.
- Material – We recommend narrowing down by weave, first. Choose from Percale or Sateen, and then select a thread-count. Keep in mind that the higher quality materials, the more expensive and long-lasting the bedding will be.
- Return Policy – If a purchase is final, you may wind up with a product you don’t want. Read the fine print to make sure returns don’t require that the sheets be unused or neatly wrapped in the original packaging.
- Sleep Trial – It’s standard for bedding companies to offer at least a 30-night sleep trial, which can give you an opportunity to test the product out.
- Shipping – Products from Amazon often have free shipping included for Prime members, and other bedding providers have started to follow this trend as well.
- Appearance – If wrinkles bother you, consider cotton blends (like poly-cotton), which are wrinkle-resistant. Percale also tends to wrinkle more than sateen.
Types of Cotton Sheets
Cotton sheets come in a variety of fabrics. The type should be a top consideration when you’re selecting cotton sheet sets, as the fabric will affect how they feel and the pros and cons of the set.
Usually more expensive than other types due to its strength, lengthy fibers, and breathability, Egyptian Cotton sheets are considered a luxury option. They work well as a year-round sheet and range in price depending on whether the cotton is 100% Egyptian Cotton or a blend. Be sure to keep an eye out for inauthentic varieties at high prices, and check labels for certifications to ensure the cotton is high-quality.
Otherwise known as Supima cotton, Pima is an extra-long-staple cotton that’s strong and can create soft sheets. It’s considered a close second to Egyptian Cotton in quality. Pima that’s trademarked as Supima cotton is grown in the United States.
Ordinary cotton is what’s used on many American-made products marked as 100% cotton or as a blend. It’s produced from cotton plans with shorter fibers that have less durability than Egyptian and Supima cotton, but the products made from it are much more affordable.
Considerations for sheets
While “1,000-thread-count Egyptian Cotton sheets” is a buzz phrase in bedding advertising and among those who are looking for their first sheet set as an adult, higher thread counts can be a marketing ploy. There’s no right or wrong with thread count, but the general recommendation is between 200 and 600. Thread counts lower than this may mean low-quality sheets prone to snags, and higher thread counts could feel heavy and hot. Luxury and high-quality sheets most often are made in 300-thread-count and 400-thread-count styles.
While there are dozens of weaves that can be used to make cotton sheets, the majority of sets are either sateen or percale. The weave is important because the way the cotton threads are woven together ultimately impacts how the final product feels. Here’s what percale and sateen weave look like and how they feel.
- Percale weave: Similar to the decorative lattice on an apple pie, percale weaves alternate in an over-under pattern. The result is a lightweight, airy, and highly breathable feel that’s excellent for warm weather or hot sleepers.
- Sateen weave: Sateen has horizontal threads that skip over multiple vertical threads. The result is a smooth, draped feel that’s cozy and decadent. Sateen weave styles also make sheets stronger and smoother. However, sateen sheets may sleep too warm for the summer months, heavyweight individuals, or those who sleep hot.
Fit, Color, and More
The fit you opt for is determined by the mattress the sheets will accompany. Most bedding companies offer sizes from Twin through California King, and some offer specialty sizes, like Split King. Browse websites to see what’s available, paying attention to key measurements like fitted sheet depth. If your mattress is on the thicker side, you’ll want to make sure the sheet set can accommodate your mattress.
Color, patterns, and other details are up to preference. If you like to change out your decor frequently, consider choosing a white, ivory, or neutral set that will pair with any bedding. Playful colors and patterns can add a pop to children’s rooms, guest bedrooms, and beach house bedrooms.
Cotton Sheets Care and Maintenance
Cotton is relatively easy to care for. Washing your cotton sheets once a week is recommended, as weekly care will prevent dust mites, release stains, and keep sheets soft. The best way to maintain good-looking cotton sheets is to wash them in low-temperature cycles, like lukewarm or cold, but hot water is required if you’ve been ill, there’s been an accident, or you’ve noticed allergens like dust mites. If you need to bleach or use a stain remover, try a color-safe or oxygen bleach on a warm setting.
The best cotton sheets for you will depend on your preferences. We recommend using this guide as a starting point to get you started in your search. Don’t forget to check what comes in the set, the return policy, the sleep trial, and the price as you consider your options. And, remember, cotton is versatile, and it comes in a variety of thread counts, colors, sizes, prices, and weaves. There’s something out there for everyone.