Frequently Asked Bed Linen Questions
Why do my sheets seem to always wear out in the middle?
Well, over time your bed linen that’s used alot will naturally wear out there. What will make this happen even faster than you imagine is when you choose regular cotton sheets. The thing is, the fibers in regular cotton tends to be a little bit shorter, and repeated washings will just begin to break down those little fibers. You may end up with what’s called “pilling”, where you have small balls of cotton all over the place. This is because the poor sheets get spun around and agitated in the washer and then baked in the dryer! You’d get tired too right…? lol
So how can you delay this breaking down and thinning of your bed linen?
Get the best type of cotton you can if it’s really important that your sheets last a good 5 or 10 years. Go with Supima or Egyptian cotton and be careful to read about what other fibers may be present. Look for 100% Egyptian or 100% Supima cotton.
The fibers in these bed sheets are much longer and stronger and flexible than regular run of the mill cotton.
Also remember to follow the care instructions for your bed linens, pillowcases and duvet covers. Heat from your dryer will hasten the breaking down. So keep the heat low and take everything out while still a tiny bit damp. Ideally, hang those sheets and all outside to dry. They’ll smell wonderful and last alot longer! Of course, this isn’t always possible!
One last note- to have a better chance at getting your bed linen to last, look for thread counts of say 180 to 220 or so. Anything too much lower than 180 and you’ll soon be looking through your sheets! lol
For more luxurious bed linens, look around for thread counts of between 220 and 400. You can of course, go much much higher than that. If budget isn’t a concern, then go for it! But if you’re trying to get the most value for the money in your bedding, then anything too much beyond 400 is not really necessary according to most expert opinions.
What’s so special about Egyptian cotton? Why is it so expensive and is it worth it?
Okay…well let’s talk then about Egyptian cotton. You could also include US Supima cotton in this discussion by the way. The deal is that the fibers that make up the yarn for your bed linens would be longer- and stronger as well. Egyptian cotton fibers tend to be about 1 and 3/8″ long, whereas regular cotton fibers tend to be around one inch. Oh..I almost forgot… the Supima fibers are still more than an inch long..a very close second generally to its Egyptian cousin.
So why is this so important..? A longer, stronger fiber will keep it’s strength and is easier to work with. The result is a softer, stronger fabric for your bedding.
The reason why it tends to be more expensive is that there’s not as much of it grown or available as regular cottons. And this bedding lasts longer, is softer and more in demand.
Don’t let the idea of that scare you off though! You’ll find some excellent deals for Egyptian cotton bed linens online, where intense competition for your business makes you the winner!
The fact is, that even just regular cotton sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers will work perfectly fine for a while! Just be sure to wash warm and don’t dry them on high and you’ll get more use out of them. But when you’re ready to pamper yourself…I mean spoil yourself rotten then you’ll need to try that Egyptian or Supima cotton! =)
I see the term sateen a lot when looking for sheets. What does this mean?
Sateen refers to the weaving process of the fabric used to create these soft, silky sheets, not the type of thread used. Using a weaving pattern of one thread under and four threads over, more threads are placed on the top side of the weave that creates the sheet, giving it that very luxurious feeling. Sateen bedding has a silky hand and a shiny appearance; it looks very much like satin. However, unlike satin, sateen sheets do not tend to crawl off the mattress nor are they as slippery feeling. This smooth bedding choice is may not be as durable as other weaves, but it feels so good next to your skin. The most popular content for sateen sheets is 100% cotton, but you will also find these linens in cotton / polyester blends and 100% polyester.
Why do some people like polyester sheets and others cotton?
There are advantages of each type of fabric. Polyester tends to provide a wrinkle-free sheet and is soft to the touch. Cotton provides a crisp, cool feeling. Polyester/cotton blends are often chosen because they can include the best of both worlds.
Polyester, however can pill over time and many launderings. Cotton does not have this problem and will remain crisp for years. Cotton tends to gain a softer hands over many launderings and is well loved for this factor.
What does Jacquard mean?
Jacquard is a term applied to a particular form of weaving. The Jacquard loom was invented by a Frenchman, Joseph M. Jacquard, who found that he could use a card, much like a computer punch card of the early computer days to control the loom. The card would tell the machine which threads to place on top and which to place on bottom. The result was a unique pattern created in the weave. Jacquard weaves are popular even today, however they are now produced using computer controlled Jacquard looms. Jacquard patterns can be found depicting scenes or patterns, either complex or simple. This study weave lasts a long time and provides a great many beautiful products including bed spreads, blankets and much more.
Is a foam pillow better than a down pillow?
The answer to this question is a matter of personal choice. A foam pillow will not last nearly as long as a down pillow and must be replaced every two years. However, many allergy sufferers prefer the foam pillows over down pillows. Selecting a good quality of foam interior is important to prevent foam breakdown even sooner than two years. Foam pillows can be found in different degrees of firmness. Foam pillows offer support and the foam interior will not move about inside the pillow as much as down.
Down pillows provide a soft, luxurious feel and can be found in different firmness factors from soft to hard. Pillows made of 100% down must be encased in excellent quality ticking to prevent down from “leaking” out of the pillow. The down pillow can be shaped under your body into the exact position and contour you prefer.
But the choice remains yours. Both selections have their place in the bedroom depending on your needs and desires.
What are the basic laundering instructions for bed linens?
While you should always follow the directions on the bed linen labels for washing and care, most bed sheets, pillow cases and pillow shams are machine washable and machine dryable on warm. However, depending on the composition of the material, other care may be recommended. Certain fabrics such as 100% pure silk may require dry cleaning in order to maintain the fabric in top condition.
It is a very good idea, when buying bed linens of any type, to remove the care label and attach it to a sheet of paper along with the description of that particular bedding. This sheet can be attached to your linen closet wall so that you can answer any fabric care question by referring to the label for that particular bedding.
What is a duvet cover?
A duvet cover is somewhat like an envelope in which you place a comforter, blanket or quilt in order to protect your fine bedding. The duvet cover can be easily removed for dry cleaning or machine washing, depending on the manufacturer’s care instructions. The inner bedding will stay clean much longer and the duvet cover will prevent wear and tear. Most duvet covers close by snapping or buttoning while others may have decorative tie closures to hold the inner bedding inside. Duvet covers are available in all bedding sizes and many different fabrics and designs to fit any décor.
What is a featherbed?
The original definition of a featherbed was a mattress stuffed with down or feathers. Today, some full featherbeds are available, but more frequently you will find the term referring to a mattress pad stuff with down or feathers. These are several inches thick and are placed on top of a conventional mattress for added softness and comfort. When purchasing a featherbed mattress topper, select one that is made with baffles to prevent feather shifting and bunching as well as a good, high thread count ticking to prevent feathers from leaking through the ticking material.
I’ve seen the term “fill power” used in reference to comforters, but what does the term mean?
Fill power is the measurement in which one ounce of down will loft and expand to fill an empty space. Down warmth is a factor of both fill power and the amount of fill inside the comforter. Down quality if rated by cubic inches of fill power using a laboratory test process. A good down comforter should have a range of 475 or greater cubic inches. Fill power of over 600 is considered excellent quality. Because good quality down has a higher fill power and loft, it requires fewer ounces of down to provide effective insulation. Hence, a comforter with fill power of 600 will have fewer ounces of fill than a comforter filled with 475 fill power down. If you do not find the fill power listed on the comforter label, it is probably because the comforter is filled with down that has less than 400 fill power and therefore is not as effective an insulator as a better quality comforter.
Do they make an allergy free down pillow?
Yes, there are allergy free down pillow available. The down used in these pillows is hyper-clean, having gone through processes which clean all the dander and microscopic particle from the down. The down is then encased in a leak-proof ticking to ensure that the pillow is effective for the allergy sufferer. Most people with serious allergy problems will still use an allergy-proof, dust mite proof pillow cover for additional protection. But there is no reason that a person with allergies can not enjoy the comfort and softness of a luxurious down pillow.
How can you keep a featherbed from slipping off the bed?
Featherbeds or feather mattress toppers can sometimes tend to crawl across the bed. One solution is to place a tightly fitting fitted sheet over the mattress and then use “sheet straps” to ensure the sheet holds the mattress on top. Another means of preventing slippage is to purchase a fully baffled featherbed which has the feathers contained in baffled sections, preventing feathers from crawling and moving inside the featherbed. This will prevent the mattress from moving from side to side or up and down for any except the most active sleeper.
Silk and satin sheets are nice but really slippery. Is there a trick to keeping them in place?
This best way to stop silk and satin sheets from slipping is to purchase the finest quality sheets you can afford that are exactly the correct size. If you try to place silk or satin fitted sheets on a deep pocket mattress that are not made for that size mattress, your sheets will come off the mattress quickly.
Some of the best quality silk and satin sheets have extra material that fits underneath the mattress to prevent slippage. Other good quality silk and satin sheets have elastic all the way around the fitted sheet and this can help prevent slipping. You can also use sheet straps if you desire but be careful not to damage the delicate fabrics.
Is there a difference between fitted sheets? What is the best kind?
Yes, there are differences between types of fitted sheets. There are those made to properly fit standard mattresses and those that are made to properly fit deep pocket mattresses. There are also fitted sheets with elastic that goes all around the bottom of the fitted sheet rather than just at the corner.
The best kind of fitted sheet for you depends upon what mattress you have and your personal preferences. If you find that fitted sheets do not stay on the bed well for you, consider the type with elastic all around. If you have a deep pocket mattress, buy only fitted sheets that are made for that mattress type. If you have a standard mattress, it is important to buy only fitted sheets that fit that mattress style.
I’ve got allergies- what type of pillow would be the best for me?
It would be best to select an allergy-proof pillow fitted with allergy-proof and dust mite-proof ticking. It can then be placed in an allergy-proof pillow cover for the best protection.
Allergy-proof pillows are available filled with foam, down or memory foam. The ticking should be good quality with a high thread count to prevent dander and dust mites from getting into the pillow.
What is a bed liner?
A bed liner is used with waterbeds to protect the bed frame in the unlikely event of a water leak. These are plastic liners that go inside the waterbed frame, before placing the mattress inside the frame. These liners are made from tough, puncture-resistant plastic to hold up through years of use. Should the waterbed mattress leak, the water will be contained inside the bed liner while you take care of the problem with a repair kit or other means.
What does damask mean?
Damask refers to a type of fabric which can be cotton, linen, silk or wool that is woven into a rich pattern. Much like jacquard, the weave provides the pattern which can be simple or quite complex. Often, damask depicts floral scenes or geometric patterns. The damask pattern is always reversible, showing a beautiful pattern on either side.
While does pilling mean?
After multiple launderings, some fabrics will allow loose fibers to bunch up, resulting in a pill-like bump on the fabric. In the case of polyester, this is caused by the breakdown of the polyester. In bedding, the resultant pills can feel much like sleeping on sand. A common cause of pilling is washing linens in water that is too hot. Be sure to purchase quality fabrics and always follow manufacturer’s directions to ensure your linens do not pill.
What’s the difference between a pillow sham and a pillowcase?
A pillow case is a piece of bedding, open on one end, into which a pillow is inserted. The pillow sham, on the other hand, normally has a slit in the back where the pillow is inserted. Pillow shams frequently have ruffles around all four edges or other embellishments. Pillowcases usually limit embellishments to ruffles on the end or piping around the hem at the open end.
I’ve heard that Pima cotton is exactly the same thing as Egyptian cotton. Is this true?
No, it is not true. Egyptian cotton is a species of cotton that has strong, long fibers making it a very luxurious fiber for weaving into Egyptian cotton sheets. While prima cotton is also a long fiber cotton and creates some very luxurious bedding, prima cotton is not exactly the same. Prima cotton is a grade of cotton, regardless of where it is grown while Egyptian cotton is a specific strain of cotton grown, primarily, in Egypt.
What is Supima cotton? I’ve never heard that term before.
Extra-long staple cotton, which means very long fiber cotton, with superior silkiness, softness and quality, qualifies as Supima cotton. It is grown in the southwestern United States and other locations. The name comes from the Pima Indians who assisted in the research to develop this very special cotton. Some people refer to this as American-Egyptian cotton because it has a similar fiber as that of Egyptian cotton. However, it is not the same strain of cotton.
Bedding that carries the label “Supima” has a very soft hand, great strength and a very luxurious feel. It is elegant and will last for years if properly cared for.
What is the difference between silk and satin?
Genuine silk is made from the cocoons of Oriental silk worms. This makes the fiber very strong and also rather costly. The fiber is unspun from the cocoons and used to make thread for weaving sheets and other bedding as well as other textiles.
Satin is a polished nylon fabric which has a luxurious, smooth feel. It is, however, a man-made product and does not occur naturally, as does silk. It, too, can be used for very luxurious bedding but it does not have the strength and long fibers of silk. Satin is more delicate to care for properly, as well. The nylon can shrink or stretch if placed in water that is too hot.
Okay, what is really the best thread count number to look for in bed sheets?
Thread count refers to the number of threads used in one square inch of fabric. The higher the thread count, the finer the thread used to create the fabric. Thread counts as high as 1,000 per square inch can be found, however, for most bed linens, a thread count of 180-400 provide a sufficiently luxurious feel but with stronger threads which will last longer. It is not necessarily better to have a higher thread count because the finer threads used to create very high thread count fabric will simply not last nearly as long as a lower thread count fabric.
How high do thread count numbers go anyway? Are those sheets really better- they certainly are more expensive?
Thread counts refer solely to the number of threads used to create one square inch of fabric. The thread count number can go as high as the manufacturers can create. Today, thread counts over 1,000 are common but very, very expensive. The extremely fine thread used in the weave to create fabric that has such as high thread count number means that each thread is very, very fine and therefore not as strong as a thicker thread.
Whether you choose to pay the higher price and enjoy the shorter life of a very high thread count sheet is entirely up to you. Linens containing thread counts of 180-400 are much more practical and last much longer for the average household on a budget.
I’m thinking about getting a pillow for my baby but I’ve heard different advice about this. Can you help?
Yes, we can help! Please wait until your child is at least three years of age to begin even considering use of a pillow. According to the advice of the American Medical Association, using any type of pillow for a small baby or even having a pillow within baby’s reach can result in the baby’s death! Yes, DEATH! The child can place its face in the pillow and smother while sleeping. It is now advised that pillows be used after a child is older, at least three years of age or more.
I’ve been thinking about trying one of those buckwheat pillows- is there a way to tell if I’m getting a good one?
Yes, there are a few things to look for in a quality buckwheat filled pillow. First of all, you want to find a pillow filled with organically grown buckwheat seeds. These seeds to not readily break down as do those in some cheaper pillows. You should select a pillow that has a high quality fabric ticking as well. The pillows that are of less quality will often have a cheap, polyester ticking rather than a sturdy, cotton or blend ticking. Some of the very best pillows have zippers to allow you to add or remove buckwheat as desired for a custom firmness.