Here’s Why I’ll Only Ever Buy Bed Sheets in One Specific Color

published Feb 1, 2023
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Credit: Liz Calka

If you put a bedding catalog in my hands, I will ooh and ahh over all the pretty patterns. I’ll imagine the impact of a poppy-colored print on my white-walled room, or I’ll daydream about doing my bed up in rust-colored linen sheets. But when I recently upgraded to a larger bed (hello, king size!), I realized the sheets I wanted most were a basic set of white percale cotton.

There’s a reason unadorned white sheets are the standard in hotels: Bright white immediately signals cleanliness, and that fresh, clean look feels luxurious. Buying white sheets for your own bed is an easy way to give yourself a taste of that hotel experience, but there’s more to white linens than their aura of immaculate hygiene.

Why I Love White Sheets

I also love white sheets because they go with everything; this is also likely why they’re a staple in professionally-decorated rooms. (Seriously, flip through any design magazine and I promise you’ll see white sheets, white sheets, and more white sheets.) With a foundation of white, you can play with throw blankets, quilts, and decorative pillows to give your room a fresh look, and if you paint the walls or bring in a bold piece of art, your sheets will continue to hang with everything in your room. Even if you change your style dramatically — say, from English farmhouse to mid-century modern — your white sheets will still fit in.

Credit: Hana Asano

The Downside of White Sheets (That Is Actually An Upside)

Of course, the inevitable downfall of white sheets is they stain much more readily and visibly than their colorful and patterned counterparts. If you find your sheets getting yellowed or graying, your bed linens may be telling you that you need to up your laundry game. Washed weekly in hot water with only white items, a high-quality detergent, and an oxygen booster, white sheets stay white a whole lot longer than if you are lackadaisical with your techniques. 

Luckily, white sheets’ vulnerability to staining is also offset by their ability to take chlorine bleach. Bedding sets with a white or pale color as their base are going to yellow, too, but you won’t be able to tackle the discoloring with the tough stuff. I don’t use bleach on every load, but when necessary, I will use it to revive white sheets that are starting to look less than fresh. A little diluted bleach is also genius for spot-treating stains.

Would I get white sheets again?

I would buy white sheets again and again. With a new bed to dress, I’m sticking to the basics, buying simple white sheets. You can call this boring or safe, but for me, white sheets just feel timeless. It’s been years since I bought new percale sheets, and all my old favorites are no longer available. So I’m giving the ones from The Company Store’s Company Cotton percale a whirl. I like that you can order them à la carte (rather than in prescribed sets).