The Ultimate Guide to Bed Linen

Posted by Lorita on 29th Aug 2018

When it comes to choosing bed linen, do you know your Egyptian cotton from your percale? Our guide will help you to get up to speed fast, whatever your needs, tastes and budget.

Which bed linen is the best?

Everyone will have their own favourite bed linen type, which is very much down to personal preference and seasonality. Materials can include polycottons, Egyptian cotton, sateen blends, silks, bamboo and microfibre and linen. The softest feel is given by the finest fibre, and Egyptian cotton is generally held as being the most luxurious of all, especially at a higher thread count. Weight also plays a part, with light thread count and light fabrics giving an airy summer feel, and thicker fabrics such as jersey, flannel and brushed cotton giving a cosy and warm feel. The fabric finish will determine the overall handle and the pattern will also play a big factor in the final appearance. Look out too for special properties such as easy car fabric, anti-bacterial fabrics, sustainable or organic cotton and Fabric-wicking technologies to keep you cool. Last but not least, consider whether you prefer flat sheets or fitted, Oxford pillowcases or housewife pillowcases and the right size of duvet for your bed. If you share and tend to fight over the duvet, go for a bigger size to give plenty of spare!

Which bed sheets are the coolest?

Although many tricks exist for getting a cooler night's sleep when the temperatures rise, your best efforts will be scuppered if you wake up feeling hot and clammy in sheets that are sticking to you! So it's time to look at cooling bed sheets which will help to regulate your body temperature and retain their perfect cool and crisp feeling. Cooling bed sheets use natural and breathable fibres that help to prevent perspiration by allowing air to circulate. They also often have moisture-wicking fabric - the type you might find in sportswear - that actually whisks away perspiration as it occurs and prevents build-up, and therefore heat accumulation. This means that you'll stay dry and comfortable through the night, at the ideal sleeping temperature which is between 60-67 degrees.

Cooling materials to look for:


Bamboo is naturally cooling and often eco-friendly in its manufacture for extra satisfaction. Bamboo is a highly breathable fabric which is very light. Look out for sheets which are stain-resistant and hypoallergenic, as bamboo is naturally durable and will last the test of time. For this reason, you might want to invest in the best you can afford and take good care of them for a real investment buy. You can also buy viscose and bamboo mix sheets which are very soft and still have the wicking technology.

Smart fabric sheets use technology to wick away moisture. This prevents you from feeling sticky and you'll find luxury feel sheets with a 1500 thread count and features such as anti-microbial properties to protect sensitive skin and deep pockets to prevent wrinkling when they come out of the dryer!


Although the texture is a little rough, this material is also highly breathable and holds moisture better than cotton. It's also very durable and often comes with anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic features.

Which bed sheets are the softest?

Is there anything more luxurious than getting into a comfortable bed fitted with smooth and soft sheets? It's one of the great pleasures of life and the softer the finish, the more enjoyable the experience. When looking for the softest sheets, it's important to know that the highest thread counts aren't always the best in terms of finish. Yes, thread count is key because it defines how many threads are weaved into a single square inch of the fabric, but it's the actual type of fabric used that makes the biggest difference. If you are trying to weigh up the softest sheet, then don't worry about buying a thread count which exceeds 400, but look for superior cotton such as Supima, Egyptian or Pima. These cotton sheets are made with long fibres which give a very comfortable weave. You'll find two different weave types to look for - sateen and percale. Percale sheets are cool and slightly crisp, with highly durable properties that respond well even after multiple hot washes. Lightweight sheets tend to have a thread count of 200-400 and heavier go up to around 600. Sateen sheets are very soft and silky and tend to be more delicate and less hard wearing than percale bedding. They may not last as long but they will feel wonderful against your skin, especially with thread counts of 300-600.

Which bed sheets are crisp?

As mentioned previously, percale sheets offer a nice crisp finish and so do Egyptian cotton sheets. Look for quality thread counts of about 400 and you'll enjoy an opulent feel and a matte, smooth finish. Why do percale sheets in particular offer that traditional crisp feel that many of us grew up with? It's because the weave is tight, basic and strong and has no stretch or fluff. With good quality cotton, you get the smooth finish - rather than a scratchy one. Looking for a warmer finish? Then look for a combed cotton sheet for the best of all worlds.

What bed linen do hotels use?

Hotels will tend to choose high thread count bed linens to offer a sense of quality. In summer, they may use 200 thread count lighter sheets and in cooler months, 400 thread count sheets will be preferred. For luxury finishes, 600 thread counts are used - with weaves boosted by technology that uses compressed air to create a soft, smooth and uniform fabric with a lovely lustre. There are even sheets with thread counts of 800-1000 which are the ultimate in indulgence. When it comes to the fabric, percale is often found with the high thread count sheets, using combed and carded yarns and a silky, soft but strong feel. Sateen weaves have a sheen and are softer than percale, so these are also popular. Some hotels will also choose flame retardant sheets for added safety. See a full range of top quality sheets at:

Can bed sheets cause itching?

When people experience itching in bed, it typically isn't down to the bed sheet material, but rather down to issues such as dust mites or allergies to laundry products. For example, highly scented and biological washing agents can irritate sensitive skins. If you are experiencing itching in bed then hot wash your sheets using a non-bio laundry product, before tumble drying them. Many people find that adding a couple of drops of essential oil such as tea tree or eucalyptus to the wash can also help. Also vacuum the room thoroughly. If you still have itchy skin, then check that you aren't suffering from another condition such as eczema which can be treated with unscented skin creams.

Which bed sheets are the best?

Everyone will have their own preference for what they see as the 'best' type of sheet, from Egyptian cotton through to satin weaves, and brushed polycottons through to bamboo sheets. The best way to pick the right sheet for you is to consider four factors:

1. The material: 100pc Egyptian cotton is of the highest quality and tends to be the most expensive. Supima or Pima cotton is known for its sheen and softness and is more affordable, and linen is great for hot weather. They are expensive but will last for years with the right care. Look out for enzyme treaded sheets which are durable and soft and which only get better with time. For easy care try poly-blend sheets.

2. Thread count: Don't get hung up on thread count - use them as a guide. A 400 count percale will give a cool and crisp bed, but if you like warm and soft jersey sheets, then you can forget about thread counts altogether.

3. Weave: This affects the feel. For example, percale has a tight and light weave which gives its cool and crisp finish. Microfibre is dense and tight for an extra soft and resistant weave, and sateen is lustrous. Don't forget the warmth of flannel too which is cosy and stretchy.

4. Seasonality: Many people like to have light sheets for summer and heavier flannel, jersey or brushed cotton sheets for winter. It is possible to just have summery and light sheets all year round, however, and just add warm upper layers to create that cosy feel when the temperatures drop.

A guide to sheet sizing:

UK sizing

Single flat sheets: 180 x 275cm

Double flat sheets: 230 x 275cm

King flat sheets: 275 x 275cm

Superking flat sheets: 305 x 275cm

Single fitted sheets: 90 x 190 x 30cm

Double fitted sheets: 140 x 190 x 30cm

King fitted sheets: 150 x 200 x 30cm

Superking fitted sheets: 180 x 200 x 30cm

European fitted sheet sizes

Single (90 x 200cm)

Double (140 x 200cm)

King (160 x 200cm)

Super King (180 x 200cm)