7 Things To Think About Before You Buy Bed Sheets

Closeup shot of an unmade bed and white bed sheets

The Spruce / Holly Stratton

Do you remember when all bed sheets were white cotton? If so, you're probably amazed at how many options are on the market now. You can add color, style, and pattern to your bedroom with the newest bedding. Read here what you should do and know before you spend your money to buy new bed sheets.

Measure Your Bed

You're probably familiar with a twin or queen or king-size bed. But did you know that there is no absolute standard measurement for beds with these names? While the top measurements are rather consistent from maker to maker, there is some variation. So before you go shopping, measure your bed carefully, noting the dimension from top to bottom, side to side, and the thickness of the mattress. Some are wider than others or longer. Be sure you know exactly what you need when you shop.

Pick Your Store

Major department stores carry both name-brand sheets and house-brands and offer a wide range of colors, quality, patterns, and prices. You might have a specialty linen store near you that has more luxury lines or decorated or embroidered bed sheets. Or you may choose to shop on-line where the options are almost endless. If you have something specific in mind, shop around. But if you're after basic sheets, you might find a good bargain at a discount store. You'll have lots of choices.

Learn About Thread Count in Bed Sheets

Right on the front of the label, the manufacturer will tell you the tread count of the sheets. This refers to the number of threads per square inch in both directions in the weave. The higher the thread count, the more luxurious the feel of a fabric. But beware, as a higher thread count usually means that the individual threads are thinner and may not wear as well. For good wear and to get the softest feel, we suggest you choose a thread count above 250 but no lower than 175.

Choose Cotton or Blends, Flannel, Silk, or Satin

For sheets you'll sleep on every day, treat yourself. Choose the best you can afford. After all, you'll hopefully spend 8 hours a day lying on them! Cotton is the most popular sheet fabric, but some people prefer non-wrinkling cotton blends. For chilly winters flannel is cozy. For luxury, choose satin, silk, or microfiber. You might buy a pair of pillowcases in different styles and see which you like best, how they feel to sleep on, how they wash. Then decide if you want a whole set.

Check the Sheet Measurements

You know the exact size of your bed. Now check the exact size of the sheets. Be sure that the fitted sheet is deep enough for your mattress, or that you haven't found a California King sheet set and your bed is an Eastern King. Remember that many sheets will shrink as much as 7% in the first washing.

Buy More Bed Sheets Than You Need

If you've spent a lot of time deciding on what bed sheets to buy, you won't want to have to do it again soon. Consider buying two or three sets that are identical so you can trade off. If something spills on the bottom sheet, you can replace just that. If someone puts a foot through the top sheet, you won't have to start over. And be sure to buy extra pillow cases for freshness.

Check the Laundering Instructions

Silk sheets are sensuous and wonderful, but will you have to have them dry cleaned each week? Can you afford that? Be sure that you'll be able to care for your new bed sheets the way the manufacturer recommends. They'll last longer, and if you have any problem, you'll be able to return them if you've cared for them properly.