What Insiders Look for When Buying Sheets Online

published Jul 6, 2018
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(Image credit: Value City Furniture)

A good night’s sleep is just a click away.

Thanks to the influx of e-commerce sites and direct-to-consumer companies, you can easily buy a set of sheets from the comfort of your couch.

“Brands across industries are making it easier to shop online and instituting processes that make the purchase experience more seamless,” says Ariel Kaye, founder and CEO of Parachute. “The comfort, trust, and accessibility of online shopping has made it a no-brainer for consumers.”

But since you can’t see or feel your sheets before adding them to your cart, you may have some questions. How do you know if you’re buying a good set? What qualities should you be looking for? Does thread count really matter?

Don’t worry, we answered ’em all below:

1. Look for All-Natural Materials…

You spend a third of your life in bed (really), so it’s important to invest in a quality set that can withstand the test of time. When it comes to fabric, it’s always better to buy au naturale.

“Look for all-natural fibers,” Kaye says. “Synthetics will dissipate in the wash and cause pilling.”

Natural fabrics like cotton, silk, and linen make for excellent sheets, while you should save nylon and polyester for your wardrobe.

2. … But Don’t Fall Into the “Organic” Trap

So organic sheets are all-natural, right? Not so fast.

“Organic is often a buzzword that grabs people’s attention,” Kaye explains. “Companies frequently manipulate the term ‘organic’ when labeling their textiles. Fibers grown organically—but processed with toxic chemicals—may still carry the organic label.”

She recommends steering clear of sheets that are “wrinkle free” or “permanent pressed,” as manufacturers treat them with formaldehyde resin. Instead, look for sheets that are Oeko-Tex certified, which means no harmful toxins or chemicals were used in the process.

3. Prioritize Your Needs

Just like your skincare or groceries, you should buy bedding that matches your lifestyle. After all, nobody wants to squirm in their sheets all night long.

One of the first things to recognize is whether you’re a hot or cold sleeper. Anyone who wakes up in a sweat each morning is likely a hot sleeper, while those who are bundled in layers of sheets probably fall on the colder end of the spectrum.

“Hot sleepers should look for linen and percale sheets that will allow more airflow and cold sleepers should seek twill or sateen sheets to create a warmer bed,” says Vicki Fulop, co-founder and CCO of Brooklinen.

You should also pay attention to what comes in your set. Parachute, for example, found 40% of Americans sleep without a top sheet and made a separate bundle without a top sheet. The company has a point: If your top sheet will inevitably end up on the floor, why buy it in the first place?

4. When In Doubt, Stick to Neutrals

Bright, printed sheets may catch your eye, but they’re not the most practical. If you’re in the market for a pair you can use for years to come, stick to a neutral color palette.

“We believe the design makes the difference,” explains Kaye. “We take a modern approach to classic bedding, offering a neutral color palette that easily mixes and matches with thoughtful details such as the back envelope closure for our pillows.”

If you want to have some fun with your sheets, Brooklinen’s pinstripe, windowpane, and polka dot prints teeter between subtle and statement.

5. The Truth About Thread Count

For years, we’ve been told a higher thread count equals softer, better sheets. Truth is, it’s not as important as you’d think.

“It’s largely a marketing gimmick,” says Kaye.

Thread count is the number of vertical and horizontal threads per square inch, and Kaye argues some manufacturers cram low-quality threads into a smaller space and claim it’s a higher thread count. Instead, she says the caliber of fabric is more important than the thread count.

But just because thread count isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be doesn’t mean you should ignore it entirely, argues Fulop.

“It’s like the four C’s of a diamond, and one factor alone can’t make it ‘just right’,” she explains. “You have to consider thread count only after accounting for the quality of the cotton, which is very important, as it’s the raw material foundation everything else rests on. You should also factor in the ply and type of weave.”