Choosing Your Bed Linens Wisely
Confused by the array of options for bed linens? Clueless about the difference between materials? And wondering why the price of bed linens can go from $50 a set to more than $1000 a set?
I hope some information below helps answer some of your questions.
1. Price does not reflect quality, so always buy during sale. The first set of bed linens we bought cost us almost $400. It was a beautiful moss green combed cotton set that perfectly matched the color hues of our room. A month later, we started seeing discoloration especially on the pillowcases, because we some times put skin lotion or balm on our neck. To replace that, we bought another set that cost us just $90 at discounted price. It was also combed cotton though of a slightly lower thread count, and this set has lasted us more than a year without discoloration even though we use and wash it in exactly the same way.
2. Buy light-colored set. We made two attempts at buying dark-colored or solid-colored bed linen set, and regretted them to the point we now stick only to light colors. With dark and solid colors, uneven discoloration is unavoidable. Regardless of how good the material, how expensive, and how branded. My expensive dark blue + purple quilt cover became discolored at FIRST WASH even though I washed it without detergent!
3. Choose materials over design. When buying bed linens, the first thing we look for is the material because the material is what makes the bed feel right on your skin, not those flower power design 🙂 Some materials you may find in the Singapore market:
- Egyptian combed cotton – usually the expensive stuff. Very soft, but not so soft to your wallet 🙂 And apparently, even some manufacturers who claim that their product is using “Egyptian Cotton” may only use a small percentage of Egyptian cotton in its cotton mixture. So, really, I don’t see this as a practical option ….
- Combed cotton – My family’s personal choice because it is soft and durable
- Jacquard cotton – We honestly don’t know the difference between combed cotton and jacquard cotton. Both are soft with no sheen / silky finish. We usually go for either combed or jacquard cotton.
- Cotton sateen – a mid-range popular choice in Singapore because the sateen gives a cool feeling to your skin
- Cotton / polyester blend – very durable, generally cheaper than cotton. But the polyester will give a warm feeling to your skin, not ideal if you don’t use air conditioning.
4. Choose long-lasting designs. Bed linens are not cheap, and people don’t throw them away the way they trash clothes and shoes after one season. Therefore, choose long-lasting designs. Don’t just buy the suggestion of your interior designer when he/she tells you to buy a quilt cover with Rambo printed all over it just because it’s “in”. Two seasons later, when Sylvester Stallone’s muscles have gone wobbly, you will regret that decision 😀
Stick to long-lasting print designs, solid (LIGHT!) colors, or solid (LIGHT!) colors with printed, sewn or embroidered accents on the edges. These will last you a lifetime.
4. Beware of embroidered and sewn accents on pillow cases! Some pillow cases come with embroidered and sewn accents. If you like this, make sure you check that you won’t sleep with your cheeks right against these accents. For me, who usually stay in the same position on my side all night long, there is nothing worse than waking up to see these accents leave a mark on my cheek 😀 For this reason, if you want to buy pillowcases (or a set with pillowcases), always ask the shopkeeper to open the packaging for you so you can test them.
5. Make sure the bed sheet fits your bed like a glove. When the bed sheet is loose, it won’t feel comfortable especially on your legs. On top of that, you will have extra trouble making your bed in the morning because you have to tighten up the bed sheet each time. Always buy FITTED SHEET according to the exact measurement of your bed so you don’t ever have to tidy up your bed sheet.
6. Check the sheet measurement. Note that many of these sheets are imported, and single/queen/king size in other countries are different than Singapore. For example, a normal queen bed is 160x200cm, but a queen bed in Singapore is 152x192cm. A king bed in Singapore is 180cm-wide while internationally it is 200cm-wide. Finding bed sheets that exactly match your bed size in a lot of times mean that you need to look for locally-made products or imported sheets that are already custom-made to Singapore measurement.
7. What is thread count? Does it really matter? Thread count is the number of threads that fits vertically and horizontally into each square INCH of a bed sheet. Generally, the higher the thread count, the softer and comfier the bed sheet. The rule-of-thumb is that a thread count between 180 and 380 is very good. Four hundred and above is extraneous (you can’t really feel the difference in softness!). Even 100 to 180 is considered enough by most people.
If you want to incorporate thread count as a criteria in your bed linen search, note that in Singapore, manufacturers put thread count in two different measurements: per SQUARE INCH and per 10 SQUARE CMs. So, if you see “thread count: 180 per 10 cm2”, that’s probably around 120 thread count per square inch. Generally speaking, 10 square cm is 1.55 square inch. So when you see a thread count in 10cm2 or 10 square cm, always ask the shopkeeper to convert that into square inch (it’s not easy to convert area measurement yourself, believe me!) so you compare different brands / options apple-to-apple.
But in the end, finishes and accents on the bed sheet also make a difference in softness and comfort. If you choose a bed sheet with a high thread count, but it is covered with embroideries all over the place and the sheet is not tight-fitting, it still will not give you the required softness. Some times a lower thread count, with the help of fabric softener, is comfortable enough. So don’t count too much on thread count.