Why Are Bedsheets So Expensive?

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Of all the things you need to buy for your home, versus things that are nice to have extras, new sheets can often seem to be among the most expensive, at least if you buy new sheets.

Often a comforter – which seems, in many ways, to be a more substantial item – is the same price, or even cheaper, than the bedsheets designed for use underneath it. So why are bedsheet prices so high? This is what we are going to take a closer look at here.

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Here’s Why Sheets Are So Expensive

One of the basic answers to this question is that when it comes to the best quality sheets, the materials used to craft them, and the labor-intensive processes involved in doing so, are expensive in themselves.

However, there is a second issue here; while high quality bedding will probably never be cheap, a lack of understanding about bedding in general, and a tendency to be blinded by the allure of a big brand name and clever marketing does mean that people may pay more for decent sheets than they really need to.

So with so many options available, and so many manufacturers vying to be the ones who ‘dress’ your bed, how are you supposed to track down and buy the higher quality sheets that will almost certainly offer most people a better night’s sleep without inadvertently paying too much or being swayed by questionable marketing and some very common bedding myths?

Read on to find out.

Are Cotton Sheets Really Better?

A woman waking up refreshed in clean white percale bedding.

Almost all the most expensive sheets you can buy are cotton.

There are different forms of cotton, and different weaves, but if you were to ask most home experts they would tell you cotton sheets are the best choice you can make, and that among the cottons themselves, Egyptian cotton is the best choice of all.

But these days, just because sheets are made from ‘100% cotton’ according to their label does not mean they are of the highest quality. Neither, any longer, does the generic term Egyptian cotton. Confused yet? We know you are, which is why we need to explain further.

As we previously indicated, you might have read or heard that the best sheets are those made of Egyptian cotton. That assertion may have been accurate at one time. Today, however, the term “Egyptian cotton” on a label may refer to either a fabric manufactured from premium cotton or one that is created from lower-quality cotton that just so happens to have been grown in Egypt.

What you should really be looking for in a high quality cotton bedsheet is one that is made using extra long staple cotton. Why are extra-long and long staple cottons so sought after?

Because the finished fabric is stronger, softer, and more durable the longer the cotton fiber.

Long-staple cotton fabrics are less likely to fray, pill, wrinkle, and even fade than those constructed with their shorter-staple cousins.

Given that bedding is used daily for a far longer period of time than practically any other sort of cotton fabric, this distinction is particularly crucial when choosing bedding. Long-staple cotton sheets will continue to feel luxurious with time, resulting in more pleasant nights of sleep for years to come.

So specifically when shopping for the highest quality cotton sheets you should be looking for labels that state the sheets are made using long-staple Egyptian, long-staple pima, or Supima cotton.

Once upon a time that meant the cottons grown primarily along the Nile, where the soil is perfect for the species of extra-long-staple cotton, Gossypium barbadense, that is indeed the best choice for sheets.

However, now a cotton grown in the US, Supima Cotton, offers the same long, long fibers and excellent softness and durability as Egyptian cotton but is grown in the southern states of the US, especially Arizona.

Tips For Buying High Quality Inexpensive Sheets

Interior of modern comfortable hotel room with a solid white hotel bed sheets and bedding wooden floors and light.

Having determined that long staple cotton bedsheets are probably the very best choice, and that you should be on the lookout for either Egyptian pima or Supima cotton, you’ll still find that you have lots of options to choose from, along with some sheets that are not crafted with this cotton that claim to be a newer, superior choice.

So how can you choose the best sheets for YOU, and be reasonably confident that’s what you’ll be getting? Here are some additional tips for buying high quality – yet inexpensive – sheets to keep in mind as you shop.

Understand What You Want in a Bedsheet

Often people hold hotel bedsheets as the standard they are looking for. If that’s the case for you, then sateen weave high quality cotton sheets are what you should be looking for. Sateen is a type of weave used in cotton bedding, with the other being percale.

In comparison to percale, sateen is typically smoother and silkier. This is because the weave exposes more thread surface, creating a smoother fabric with a silky texture that is a little heavier than percale.

However, there are other options to consider. Linen is very soft and gets softer with age, is still an all natural fabric and is often the perfect choice as a lightweight sheet for summer sleeping. Heavier cottons are naturally cooling, but lighter linen can offer the ultimate in cool sleeping.

Linen, and even cotton, can be a little too cold for comfortable sleeping on very cold nights, though. If you are buying bedsheets for cold climates, you might want to look at flannel instead. And if you are looking for smooth, slightly sexy luxury, silk is hard to beat.

Thread Count

Thread count is important when it comes to sheets, but a lot of people are confused by how high a thread count should be to indicate they are choosing a high quality sheet. If you contrast sheets with 100 thread counts to those with 300-500 thread counts, you’ll almost certainly notice and feel a difference in the softness and durability of the sheets.

Experts on fabric, however, concur that there really is no difference after the thread count reaches 500 and that the ideal range is between 300 and 500 for high-quality, well woven fabrics. Although excellent marketing frequently leads people to believe otherwise, those 1,000 thread count sheets don’t offer any more softness and won’t last any longer.

Your Commitment to Care

As they are a more expensive purchase, you want to be able to get a good return on your investment, and how you care for your sheets has a lot to do with ROI. Some sheets like silk are more complicated to care for, and one of the reasons hotels go for sateen cotton every time is that in addition to being soft and durable they are very easy to care for. They can be washed in hot water, tumble dried on high and even bleached.

So if you are a person who hates laundry, high quality cotton sheets will almost certainly be the way to go!

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