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What You Need to Know Before You Buy Sheets

OMG! There's as much vocab when learning to buy sheets as there is to ace bio-chem exam.

I know nothing about sheets. I only know how to be a good lover and father. It takes intuition to do both. The same is not true of buying sheets. You need to know a lot of stuff to buy sheets! Vocabulary, your climate, what you want out of sheets. I've never asked myself what I want out of sheets! Only what I want out of a partner and out of my own life. I let my son Jarret be who he wants to be. 

I know never to discuss my lovemaking with my son. He has a hard enough of time handling that I'm an emotional being; I don't need to overwhelm him with an awareness that I'm a sexual being as well. And I certainly don't need to burden him with learning how to buy sheets even though, one day, he will hopefully do the same. 

Thread count is not king.

Horizontal threads are called weft and vertical ones are called warp. Sometimes to make the thread count number higher, companies will just add more threads to the weft without making a difference. Or companies will use multiple fibers to make one thread and count each fiber as a single thread. That sort of trick would have worked on me because I was ready to just buy sheets with a high thread count and that's it. These thread count scams are as uncool as the poetry publishing scams to avoid!

According to experts, a thread count between 200 and 500 works best. You might think there's no way that's true, but when I actually looked through various lists of best sheets, there were next to none that had a thread count of 1,000. 

It's all about the cotton strands, baby.

You can go the polyester route when you buy sheets and end up with some affordable and soft sheets. With extremely fine fibers, you may even avoid pilling, but polyester isn't the best choice for sensitive skin and it doesn't breathe as well either. Cotton is the most common choice for high-quality sheets.

Cotton-poplin leads to light sheets; cotton creates soft and breathable sheets that are warm when it's cold and cool when it's hot, and linen can absorb heat, so it's often used in high-humidity areas. Then there's the type of cotton. Cotton sateen is softer while cotton percale is more affordable and crisper/cooler. 100% cotton sheets also wick moister away and are easy to wash because they release dirt when wet.

"But wait, there's more!" Huff-puff; huff-puff! My head is already spinning from all this vocabulary, but I still need to tell you about fiber. Long fibers are what makes Egyptian fiber so desirable. Pima and Supima are also long fiber options. What makes long fiber so good? The length of the fiber is what gives the sheets strength and prevents pilling. 

Don't forget about bamboo!

If you ask someone who prefers bamboo sheets, then you're going to hear that, for the most part, bamboo is softer and more durable than cotton because of the bamboo fibers. You'll also hear that cotton is a hard plant to grow and that bamboo is easier. Anyone who's ever seen a bamboo thicket knows from experiences just how quickly these plants grow and the abundance of their growth. 

Cotton sheets can be just as high quality as bamboo ones and the process of growing cotton can be Earth-friendly if you're willing to pay for it. Nonetheless, no matter how eco-friendly cotton is, it's still a very water hungry crop. By the time I finished doing the research, I was strongly leaning toward going bamboo when I finally buy sheets.

So many weaves!

Fiber is king, but weaves are also king. There are a lot of kings when it comes to sheets! Weaves impact how the sheets feel, look, their longevity, and price. Plain weaves may not even get mentioned on the label! 

A sateen weave has more vertical weaves, which means they're super soft but are more susceptible to tears and pilling. They also have a sheen, a smooth finish, and feel silky to the touch.  A percale weave feels velvety. When ironed, percale will feel crisp and soft on your skin, and cool to the touch. 

Jersey knit is what underwear and some T-shirts are made out of, usually with a cotton or a cotton blend. Jersey can be soft, but not as strong as percale or sateen. Flannel sheets have a greater surface area, which allows them to provide greater insulation. This is a lot of stuff about weaves you need to know when you buy sheets! Luckily you can rub your face and hands on most sheets when you buy them in the store. 

The Color of Your Dreams

If you want to know how to make a hotel bed at home, then you need to pay attention to the color of the sheets. As Eri Hoover, VP of design at Westin and Sheraton told HuffPo, “The all-white bed created this halo effect. People thought a room had been renovated, even if it was just the bed that had been changed." That sounds nice; when I buy sheets they'll be white!

Where to Buy

You can use a website like Gilt to buy sheets from designer brands up to 70% off, but from what I've seen that might not even be necessary. When Wirecutter weighed in on the best cotton sheets, its top two picks came from LL Bean and JC Penny and both cost $150 and $140 respectively. And these were luxury sheets! You can also always wait for a sale or couple to knock the price down. 

Better make it fair trade!

Fast Company was right: the truth about your cotton bedsheets will give you nightmares. India is the top producer of cotton in the world, but, due to an absence of regulation, there's a lot of dangers in producing the crop. Pesticide poisoning happens far too often. In one school alone, for example, 23 children died because of contaminated lunches. And cotton farmers in China are susceptible to the same problem. So, make sure you buy sheets that are eco and human-friendly. There are even companies like Boll & Branch and SOL Organics that specialize in fair trade sheets. 

If the sheets don't fit then you must acquit!

You want your sheets to fit your mattress. Especially if you have one of the best mattresses for sex! Otherwise, your sheets will clump up or end up on the floor, and that's no good. You can buy sheets that have elastic edging all the way around so that you have a smooth, snug fit. Or you can buy sheet straps to keep your sheets neat. There's also the option of getting sheets in a size bigger than your mattress so you have room to tuck them in. Just don't mess it up at this step; you've researched too much about sheets to do this wrong now!

Go silk or go home!

One of the best ways to compliment great sheets is to buy great pillowcases.  You don't want to undo your superfood skincare products with harsh pillowcases! And silk is very good for your face, which is important since your pillowcase is probably the single piece of material that's going to be touching your face the most. Silk also helps your skin absorb natural moisture and reduces hair damage because the silkiness of silk means less friction. So, when you buy sheets make sure to buy silk pillowcases too. Sure, they may be pricey, but so is your face!

Take good care of your sheets.

Did you know we spend a third of our lives in bed? I just learned that because I read a bunch of articles about sheets and every single one of them mentioned that fact. Given the amount of time we spend in bed and the amount of money we've invested in our bedding, we should take good care of our sheets. That means following instructions, washing them separately from other items to prevent damage, and giving them plenty of room in the wash since they're big items. 

How close are you to a washing machine and how much time do you have to wash your sheets? That's a big deal because not everyone is rich with time. You need to consider your climate. More humidity breeds more bacteria, which means you may want to wash your sheets once a week. You don't want your sheets to smell either. That'll make you smell too! And if you have sensitive skin that only makes things worse for you. So, buy some extra sheets if you don't have time to get to the wash so you can at least swap them out. Your beauty and your rest are worth the time and effort.

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What You Need to Know Before You Buy Sheets
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