Today's bed linens have so much to offer.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Advertisement

Today's sheet companies make a lot of claims, ranging from helping to achieve better skin to the ability to help you get a cooler night's rest. Despite the diverse selection on the market, most bed linens are made from cotton; the breathable material is optimal for sleeping. The many options on the market, however, can make selecting the correct brand or cotton style (from traditional linen to cotton-blend iterations, like jersey) difficult. After all, there are plenty of factors to take into consideration, may of which go beyond the conventional markers of color, size, and thread count. To help you find the best possible cotton sheets for your needs, we spoke to textile expert Leana Salamah, the Vice President of Marketing at The International Housewares Association.

neutral-colored master bedroom with wood accents
Credit: Andrea Calo

Think beyond thread count.

Surprisingly enough, Salamah notes that thread count isn't a major factor in sheet quality. "The textiles industry, and bedding specifically, is in a bit of a Renaissance. Certain features, including material and thread count, are not necessarily how you win with consumers," she explains. "You can differentiate by considering the benefits of the sheets at hand." In recent years, she adds, cotton bedding has improved drastically in terms of manufacturing, which is why there are so many wonderful contenders on the market today.

You don't have to spend a ton.

If price is your main focus, Salamah says that you can use thread count as a benchmark; it is a perfectly fine way to choose your bedding, but she adds that the average customer may not be able to notice count variations. When in doubt, she says to select a set with a mid-range thread count, which will give you the softness, durability, and high-end appearance most consumers crave. Ultimately (and thread count, aside), certain moderately-priced selections—we're partial to the Martha Stewart Collection Printed Egyptian Cotton Percale Sheets (from $23.99, macys.com)—check all the boxes, without breaking the bank.

Today's sheets pack some serious benefits.

Sheet sets have come a long way—according to Salamah, manufacturers have created iterations that offer a "cooler" sleeping environment, benefit skin, or encourage relaxation through "weighted" linens. "These are true benefits, rather than features, and manufacturers leaning on these types of messages are outpacing the rest of the industry," she says. "Moving forward, there are really fascinating advances in materials that can potentially be used in bedding—a material called Biocrystal Powder, when introduced into fabrics, creates a warming effect that enhances blood circulation and has been proven therapeutic for injuries in animals." Another up-and-coming option is called eSCENTIAL, which gives fabric a consistent fragrance (think lavender and chamomile, which are sleep-inducing scents) without being overpowering. Until these innovations hit market, don't be afraid to test out cooling, soothing, or skin-enhancing sets from lauded retailers—chances are, you'll reap their benefits thanks to existing technological advancements.

Before you buy, measure your mattress.

Mattresses have advanced alongside bed sheets—which means that buying bed linens is no longer a one-size-fits-all process. "We tend to buy sheets on good faith regarding size, because mattress sizes are supposedly standard," Salamah says, noting that conventional twin, full, queen, and king labels might now be moot. These days, it doesn't have so much to do with the length and width of your bed, but the depth. "Measure the depth of your mattress with any added pieces (like pads or toppers) and note the depth measurements in any sheet purchase," she says. At the end of the day, Salamah believes that the best way to buy your sheets is by first deciding what you want from them. "Look for benefits—how they feel, how they impact your sleep—not features (read: organic, thread count, and so on)," she says.

Comments (29)

Martha Stewart Member
January 19, 2021
The information that you have provided regarding how to choose cotton sheets is very good. I have purchased cotton sheets from aanyalinen.com, I am very impressed and satisfied by the quality. You should also go for navy blue flat sheets, it is a pure cotton product.
Martha Stewart Member
June 10, 2019
Check this out (helpful) : nymag.com/strategist/article/what-are-the-best-bed-sheets.html PS: dear Martha. I bought two of your sheet sets at Macy's today. "whim" a 325 thread count 100% cotton (not further specified) and Percale 400 thread count. Out of the pkg the whim feels softer. All in the dryer now (on low heat) after warm water initial wash. We'll see! Goal: cool and soft for summer.
Martha Stewart Member
May 18, 2019
Very informative, I have been trying for years to find the sheets my mother had. Hanging them out on a line in the sun helps. My next try is for the ones from the Vermont Country Store. I have tried all kinds and either they pill or wrinkle or just don’t give me what I’m looking for.
Martha Stewart Member
January 7, 2019
be aware that christys hygrow is 85% owned by welspun india. This is the company behind the recall of cotton sheets & towels by target, macys etc.
Martha Stewart Member
September 4, 2018
It is discouraging when one discovers false advertising, even from usually reliable sources, and even more so that nothing is done to put a stop to what is an illegal practice. I too love Egyptian pima, percale-weave sheets. They're expensive but they're "sturdy," and crisp and smooth. I have learned something--while 350 or so thread count is good, the higher you go, the thinner the threads will most likely be. A thread count of 1600 may sound good, but the threads will be so thin they'll break eventually, and the sheet is pretty thin. Who'd have thought there'd be so much to know about sheets, and that there would be so many unsatisfactory choices--rough, pilling, thin, etc--to avoid!
Martha Stewart Member
August 17, 2018
Be very, very careful of buying sheets on Amazon. I bought 1000 thread count Egyptian Cotton sheets - advertised as hotel quality, percale, crisp etc. that were close to, if not actually cheap micro fiber sheets that you can get anywhere for $25 - $30. I paid $121. After 4 days emailing back and forth with Amazon and trying to get a full refund, I finally got my money back. However, do the research on cotton. Yes, there is pure Egyptian Cotton - however it is a trade marked brand and very expensive. The same goes for Supima cotton - also trade marked. Most real good cotton, like pima and percale will never exceed 600 thread count. Higher than that, it is not a good quality cotton and may even be a micro fiber, made out of wood (cellulose). I told Amazon about it, but they don't seem to care and continue to allow many dealers to continue to engage in false advertising. Recently, many stores like Target, Macy's, Bed, Bath & Beyond were forced to remove many sheets that were advertised as Egyptian Cotton that were not. I believe that these unscrupulous sellers are now peddling those same cheap sheets on Amazon. Shame on them for allowing this to happen!!
Martha Stewart Member
August 7, 2018
I just looked at sheet sets at Macy. It is rather confusing with there cotton terminology. Surrey cotton, nu-percale cotton, Hygro-cotton and damask. I ordered a set that came with the pillowslips missing and the 900 thread sheets were very thin. We are working out an exchange. I need your help.
Martha Stewart Member
July 22, 2018
Looking for cool sheets. Is cotton percale or polyester percale the way to go? Can you tell us what sheets have lasted you 60 years!!
Martha Stewart Member
June 26, 2018
The last paragraph of this article states the problem for consumers. We can't assess our sheets until we have used them. As the first commenter said, the labels don't help. Thread count means nothing, in my experience. Egyptian cotton can vary. Ideally, the package details would provide information on the quality of the cotton. My best sheets are over 60 years old. They were not expensive, and they have a low thread count. They have a beautiful sheen and drape, with no pilling. They are opaque.
Martha Stewart Member
January 19, 2018
Kind of informative this article is… But in actual thread count doesn’t exceed more than 500 Thread Count, After 500 TC layered cotton are made, and no company sells 100% Egyptian Cotton, they are custom handmade cottons. Visit aanya linen more to learn about this, Aanya Linen
Martha Stewart Member
April 2, 2017
SOFT SHEETS- BAMBOO AND COTTON
Martha Stewart Member
March 26, 2017
I want the following sheet qualities: Very, very crisp feel - I don't care if they wrinkle after washed. Very, very high thread count 100% cotton - the best that can be bought White or color - Is there a difference in the crispness of white or color? Not thin or sateen smooth feeling $$$ - Not looking for cheap My last set lasted for over 25 years. Have been searching ever since I could mend them no more. Please give the data I need to look for replacements. Percale? 1000 -1500 thread count? 100% Egyptian cotton from the Nile Valley? Generous fitting queen contour. Flat top sheet that is wider than standard queen. These are skimpy on the sides, and king are too big. So many questions. Can you please guide this purchase? Ever grateful for any help. Also, any suggested sources for on line, or store names that carry these items.
Martha Stewart Member
March 3, 2017
I'm looking for sheets as soft as the baby crib sheets by Aden and Anais only in queen size. They only sell crib sheets. Any idea Where I could get something like that?
Martha Stewart Member
March 2, 2017
Martha Stewart Member
August 24, 2016
Can anyone tell me how long Martha Stewart has been selling chambray sheets? I have a set that's quite old and am not sure if they are Martha Stewart. I may have actually bought them at a KMart years ago. Can anyone also tell me if todays chambray would hold up as well? I am on a quest to find a good set of cotton percale sheets, reasonably priced, that will stand the test of time. And of course it would be nice if they didn't need ironing. My old ones come out of the dryer nearly wrinkle free.
Martha Stewart Member
August 16, 2016
Growing up we didn't hear anything about thread-count. Our parents used cotton percale sheets and the kids got the muslin ones - more durable. And they were all ironed :) But my absolute favorite sheets I can't find anymore. Before the fad of the all cotton, high thread count sheets, you could get a cotton/polyester blend that was the best - cool, smooth, super comfortable. BUT, it has to be a Combed Cotton of 60% (50% minimum) and Polyester 40%. Combed cotton is the key!
Martha Stewart Member
July 23, 2016
Which sheets are the coolest?
Martha Stewart Member
July 17, 2016
I want sheets that don't have to be ironed. I've bought expensive and inexpensive sheets that all say they don't need to be ironed. I've laundered them exactly as instructed and they all have to be ironed. The sheets I grew up with didn't have to be ironed. Thats what I want but don't know what to look for. It seems the higher the thread count & the more expensive the more they have to be ironed. What should I look for? Even inexpensive sheets are expensive if they're not right.
Martha Stewart Member
July 17, 2016
Great information..
Martha Stewart Member
July 17, 2016
I find it so strange that my favorite sheets are the ones my grandmother had that I now use. Plain cotton sheets purchased at Sears over 40 years ago! Smoothest coolest sheets I own!
Martha Stewart Member
July 7, 2016
I crisp sheets. the last ones I found were from Peacock Alley called "Oasis." I've always thought "percale" sheets were "crisp" rather than the Egyptian cotton sheets, which are always quite soft. Could you recommend where I can find percale sheets?
Martha Stewart Member
September 27, 2015
I also see single ply, 2 ply & even 3 ply. I purchased some really nice sheets but that was 10 yrs ago & believe it or not they have finally lost their luster. I did not know anything about sheets back then & got lucky. Since then all the sheets I purchased don't last 1-2 yrs. Please help. I am willing to pay for something that will last.
Martha Stewart Member
August 12, 2015
Poor quality sheets will pill almost immediately after the first wash and use. The reason this happens is because the threads are often spun from short staple cotton and or mixed with filler materials to lower the cost of the thread. Short staple cotton will start to fray where it is joined to filler materials like polyester. American cotton is not all the same quality, nor is all Egyptian cotton the same. You have to know what you are buying and the package labels are very little help.
Martha Stewart Member
February 4, 2015
Hi Martha, I was just wondering if you could recommend a sheet that has little pilling, for some reason this seems to be a problem with our sheets. I don't buy expensive sheets, and launder them just like my clothing. But if I had to pay more money for sheets that didn't pill or had less chance of pilling, I would gladly pay it. Thanks Amy
Martha Stewart Member
February 2, 2015
I like crisp sturdy hard sheets. I purchased Marta Stewart percile 250 sheets from Macy's i don't like the fee tood soft not a tight enough weave. I like to dry sheets on the line. I remember these sheets from when I was younger. What sheets do I buy?
Martha Stewart Member
August 18, 2014
Did the original question get answered? What makes combed cotton different from other cotton sheets?
Martha Stewart Member
August 12, 2014
I have some sheets from Hampton House which I love. I have had them for at least ten years and would like to purchase some more but cannot find them on stores or online. They say "100% combed cotton" made in India #113585 and are 600 thread count. What would you suggest that is comparable? Is 100% combed cotton the same as Percale? Thank you.
Martha Stewart Member
July 30, 2014
@ n_smyly. JC Penney offers Liz Claiborne liquid cotton 100% pima cotton sheets. I haven't tried them but just yesterday (7/29/14) received an ad in the mail advertising them. Full size $49.99. Queen and King upward of that. Hope this helps. P.S. Ad states prices run through August 2.
Martha Stewart Member
June 28, 2014
Can you please tell me how I can purchase sheets/cases equivalent to the pima sateen sheets you had in kmart stores about 12 years ago. I bought several sets because I loved them so much but have been unable to ever find anything even close to the comfort of those. Mine are threadbare and repeatedly mended because we love them so much!!!