10 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Bed Linen – Never underestimate the power of quality bed linen: it gives your bedroom an instant uplift and helps you to get a better night’s sleep. ‘Remember that you get what you pay for,’ says Sam Hood of Amara. ‘Good-quality bed linen will last for many years and will improve with age.’
We spend about a third of our lives in bed, so it’s worth investing in quality. But there are so many factors to think about when choosing your linen, from thread count to fabrics and how it’ll need looking after – what’s the right option for you?
Professional advice from:
Kate Mooney of Houseology
Sam Hood of Amara
Charlie Hunt & Sarah Smith of Soak & Sleep
This refers to the number of horizontal and vertical threads in one square inch of fabric. ‘For example, if a fabric is 200TC (thread count), it means there are 200 threads per one square inch of fabric,’ explains Sam Hood of Amara.
It is often said that the higher the thread count, the better the quality of the bed linen. But this isn’t the only factor to take into consideration
‘The fineness and quality of the yarn is another hugely important factor – a sheet of better quality fibre with a lower thread count will feel softer and stand up to washing better than a lower quality fabric with a higher thread count,’ says Kate Mooney of Houseology.
‘As a general rule, look for a thread count of 200 or above, which should be clearly labelled on the packaging. Good quality yarns of cottons or linen will feel better after every subsequent wash and last for a lot longer.’
The weave of your sheet also affects the way it feels and looks. The two most common weaves are sateen (or satin) and percale.
‘Sateen, as you would expect, has a smoother feel with some sheen due to the raised yarn profile in the weave, meaning that the top layer of yarn will weave across several cross-layer yarns, producing a satiny, reflective finish. Good-quality yarns are really key here to give strength to the construction,’ explains Sarah Smith of Soak & Sleep.
‘Percale feels crisp and fresh and is based on a simple weaving construction which gives an even, flat finish.’
Find top tips for dressing your bed
Cotton is cool, absorbent and affordable. ‘Naturally breathable, easy to wash and incredibly durable, it tends to be a popular choice, particularly with families and busy households,’ says Mooney. ‘Egyptian cotton is probably one of the most luxurious cottons available. Although it tends to be more expensive, its high quality makes it soft to the touch, strong and durable.’
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that all Egyptian cotton is the best quality. ‘You can find very good quality and very poor quality from this region,’ says Hood. ‘The most important factor is not where the cotton is from, but that the cotton is a good quality.’
So how do you know if the cotton is good quality? Ultimately It comes down to the old rule of thumb – you get what you pay for.
If you prefer fuss-free bed linen, choose a man-made material such as a polycotton mix – a blend of synthetic polyester and natural cotton. ‘Easycare polycotton is a great option for people with a busy life looking for bed linen that requires minimal care,’ explains Mooney. ‘It’s comfortable to touch, dries quickly and requires little ironing, so it’s a great solution for families and works well on children’s beds.’
To make sure the bed linen you buy is good quality, look for a thread count of at least 180 to help guard against any wearing and pulling. ‘Always choose the option with the larger cotton quantity, so you have a higher amount of natural fibres compared to man-made,’ advises Hood.
Linen is a great option in warmer climates: it’s breathable and great at drawing moisture away from the body. Plus, Hood advises, it’s said to be twice as durable as cotton.
For the ultimate easy-care option, opt for a 100 percent pure-linen product. ‘Linen looks at its best when it is creased and tousled, and it will only get better with every wash,’ says Charlie Hunt of Soak & Sleep. ‘It’s the easiest option, with ironing completely optional.’
Linen can have a starchy finish and feel rough to the touch, so opting for pre-washed linen will ensure softness. However, not all linens are pre-washed as it does cost more, resulting in a pricier product.
Hunt explains more: ‘There are lots of wash treatments used, including stone wash and garment wash that have similar properties.’ These will also change the look, adds Hunt, ‘especially on dyed colours’.
Silk bed linen is naturally hypo-allergenic and versatile enough to provide warmth in the winter and still be cooling in the summer. ‘It’s a more delicate fabric than cottons and linens, so it is less likely to irritate sensitive skin; it’s a great choice if you suffer from acne, for example, as it won’t irritate or absorb any skin products,’ says Mooney. ‘It can also help you avoid the dreaded “bed head” look as it prevents frizz and static,’ she adds.
The downside to silk bed linen is that it’s high maintenance. It’s delicate and needs more care, especially during washing, so it’s not ideal for families or busy homes.
Like this supersized headboard? Be inspired by 10 more
‘Ask any expert and they’ll tell you that mulberry silk is the absolute best silk,’ says Hunt. ‘We use 17 momme Charmeuse weave – it’s among the finest you can get. The fine grade of silk produced by the treasured mulberry silkworms creates bed linen with a softer feel and silkier drape.’
While such luxury inevitably comes with a higher price tag, if you care for your sheets they will last for years.
Remember that the materials used will determine the overall finish and feel of your bed linen. A 100 percent pure-cotton range will be completely different from a polycotton mix or linen product.
‘It’s important to consider the overall look and feel that you are hoping to achieve,’ advises Hunt. ‘For example, to create a relaxed, Scandi-style vibe, opt for a linen material. However, if five-star luxury is more for you, choose cotton with a minimum 600TC to create a beautifully smooth, silky finish.’
Care for your linens and you’ll help to keep your duvets, pillows and mattress in top condition.
‘We sweat and shed tiny flakes of skin when we sleep, so it’s important to protect pillows and mattresses,’ advises Mooney. To help, change your bed linen weekly and wash it regularly to avoid a build up of bacteria that can exacerbate lung and skin problems.
Different products need different washes, so always follow the guidelines on individual labels. ‘Our linen and cotton ranges can be popped into the washing machine, and some even benefit from a whizz in the tumble dryer,’ says Hunt. ‘However keep silk away from all machinery! Hand-wash your silk sheets and allow them to air-dry on a billowy washing line for maximum freshness.’
What kind of bed linen do you have – or crave? Share your thoughts or photos in the Comments below.