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Second only to mattresses and pillows, bedding is one of the most important factors determining the comfort of your sleep space. Even if you have the best possible mattress for you, the quality and material of your sheets, comforter, duvet or blanket can make or break your sleep space. With a variety of materials, weaves and more, finding the right bedding can be a complicated and daunting process. Fortunately, we’ve constructed this comprehensive guide in order to inform you about everything there is to know about bedding.
This guide will explore the materials, weaves, our top picks and everything else there is to know about the following:
You may be surprised about everything that goes into picking the right bedding. In this section, we’ll cover the following in detail about pillowcases and sheets:
Good materials are truly important for a quality set of sheets. How you select your material can depend on a variety of factors, including the type of mattress you sleep on, whether you run hot or cold, and how you prefer to wash sheets. Let’s dive in.
Because it is naturally soft and breathable, cotton is the most common fiber used to make sheets. Cotton plants produce bolls (or seed capsules) that typically contain at least 200,000 individual fibers. Short-staple fibers (shorter than 1 1/8″), long-staple fibers (1 1/8″ to 1 1/4″ in length), or extra-long-staple fibers (1 3/8″ to 2″) may be found in cotton sheets.
Types of cotton used to make sheets include:
|Egyptian Cotton||A high-end material usually found in expensive sheets. The staple fibers are extra long, and the thread counts are typically on the higher side.|
|Pima Cotton||Pima cotton is commonly grown in the U.S. or sourced from Peru or other South American countries; the proprietary fabric Supima® is made from 100% American pima cotton. The staples may be long to extra long, and the material is exceptionally soft.|
|Upland Cotton||Because it is relatively inexpensive compared to Egyptian and pima cotton, Upland cotton is the most common type of cotton used in sheets. Most upland cottons are short-staple and somewhat coarse compared to other cotton varieties.|
Polyester is a durable synthetic fabric that mimics the softness and light weight of cotton. It may be blended with other fabrics (such as cotton or rayon) to create a blended material, or finely woven into microfibers.
True to its name, microfiber is made out of fibers that are finely woven. A microfiber material has to be a specific thickness (1 denier) in diameter to qualify as such. Microfibers can be made from polyester, nylon polymers, or even wood pulp.
Like polyester, lyocell is a synthetic fabric (not a natural fiber, despite some marketing claims) that mimics the softness of cotton. Lyocell requires less chemical processing than other synthetic and natural fibers, and some consider it a more eco-friendly option — though it should never be considered natural or organic.
Bamboo can be a misleading term when used in conjunction with sheets. The material is not made directly from bamboo plants; instead, bamboo pulp is processed with chemicals to create a synthetic rayon-viscose fiber.
Silk is a natural protein secreted by silkworms that can be woven into a luxury fabric that is cool, breathable, and exceptionally lightweight, as well as hypoallergenic.
Linen is a natural fiber produced from the flax plant. It is exceptionally breathable and lightweight, but stiffer and more absorbent than cotton.
Just as important as the materials used on your sheets and pillowcases is the weave. When a textile producer puts together different materials, they have to decide on the style of weave. That means interlacing two yarns together, which forms a cloth or fabric. The method of interweaving these materials may determine their shape and strength. Some materials are also better with certain weaves. For example, silk is often put together with a satin weave. Below, we’ll go over the main types of weaves.
Also known as a plain weave, this is tightly woven and follows a strict one-over, one-under ratio. The material is soft and has a matte appearance. This criss-cross weave has the benefit of making percale weaves consistently strong, preventing wear and tear. That said, this weave may result in more wrinkly sheets with a louder rustling sound.
Features a higher ratio of warp-over-weft — in some cases, four over to one under — which creates a looser weave than percale. This weave is often more smooth and wrinkle-resistant. Sateen has a higher shine than percale, as well. On the downside, sateen weaves may be more susceptible to pilling and less durable.
Twill weaves have a diagonal pattern, unlike percale and sateen, which have straight weaves. Weft yarns are passed over and under the warp yarns one or two at a time, and then dropped to create a step between the rows that gives it a diagonal appearance. Twill weaves are better for bulkier and more durable materials. Higher counts make them more water and air resistant.
A flannel weave is often made with heavy fabric that is soft and warm. Flannel weaves are tight and measured in GSM (grams per square meter). While flannel as far back as the 1950s was always made with heavy materials like wool, now flannel woven sheets can be made with materials like cotton or a synthetic blend. They’re great for wicking moisture away from the body but not ideal for fine materials.
Many customers love jersey weaves on sheets and pillows because they feel like a soft, comfy t-shirt. Jersey weaves are sometimes referred to as a single or plain knit, and have flat vertical lines on the front. While they’re nice and stretchy, there is one major downside: flat jersey knits may run easily if a piece of yarn is broken.
While thread count is important, it’s not the most relevant quality indicator for all types of weaves and materials. The materials and weaves listed below show the ideal weight instead of thread count. Keep an eye out for this if you’re shopping for sheets or pillowcases that contain the following.
Everyone has encountered a fitted sheet that doesn’t actually fit well. Luckily, there are ways to prevent this from happening in the future. Make sure you’re familiar with the thickness of your mattress and the pocket depth of the sheets you want to buy. Pocket depth refers to the thickest mattress size that a bottom sheet will properly fit over. For example, a fitted sheet with a pocket depth of ‘up to 16 inches’ will be too small for mattresses that are thicker than 16 inches.
Our testers have developed a comprehensive rating criteria for sheets that we use in all of our sheet reviews. All of the sheets we feature below have been evaluated with this criteria, from comfort and feel to durability and ease of cleaning.
|Durability||Sheets last for a long time without wearing down. Frequent wash and dry cycles won’t cause damage.|
|Temperature Regulation||A material that is breathable, cool, or neutral in temperature. No problem of overheating at night.|
|Comfort and Feel||Flexible and soft in a way that allows the sleeper to move around easily at night. No scratching or irritation to the skin.|
|Cleaning||Simple to care for. Easy to wash without too much maintenance.|
|Fit||Hugs bed corners in a snug way, without tugging at edges or feeling too loose. Pillows fit in case without falling out or squeezing in.|
Looking for brand new sheets and pillowcases? Our favorite picks come at a variety of materials, weaves, and price points.
Saatva specializes in bedding with a conscience. These luxurious sheets are built for mattresses with deep pockets (10”-15” high). The long-staple organic cotton creates sumptuously soft yet durable sheets, and they’re Fair Trade Certified. You’ll enjoy the light and breathable fabric. Free shipping and 45 day returns.
This Percale Sheet Set from Parachute boasts lightweight and durable sheets with a crisp and cool feel. You’ll enjoy the quality cotton that won’t irritate your skin or keep you hot at night. These sheets come with a 90 day trial, along with free shipping and returns.
Layla is confident that you’ll love their sheets, which is why they have such a long trial and warranty compared to many of their competitors. The bamboo material gives these sheets a luxurious feel, and they get softer with each wash.
Magic Linen provides soft, eco-friendly sheets with a cozy appearance. The fitted sheets come with two different depth options so they’ll fit perfectly around your mattress. Return or exchange sheets within 30 days if they’re delivered unworn and in original packaging.
Pinzon’s signature sheets are heavyweight velvet flannel, meaning they’re soft to the touch and weigh 190 grams per square meter. This kind of material is ideal to keep you warm and cozy during the winter months. You can order these for quick delivery on Amazon Prime.
Now that we’ve gone over different bed sheets and pillowcases, let’s take a look at comforters and duvet inserts. Outer shell materials and fills make a big difference here, and we’ll look at the ideal sets for each.
A comforter, by definition, is a single-piece bedding cover that is filled with down, feathers, wool, or down alternative synthetic fibers. All four sides of the comforter are stitched or quilted to prevent the fill from escaping. A duvet, on the other hand, consists of two components: the duvet insert and the duvet cover. The duvet insert, like a comforter, is filled with down or synthetic fibers. The duvet cover is similar to a pillow case, and features an opening on one side for the insert.
However, one thing to note is that comforters can double as duvet inserts when placed inside a duvet cover. The table below lists general similarities and differences between comforters and duvets.
|Type(s) of Fill||Down Feathers Wool Silk Down Alternative||Down Feathers Wool Silk Down Alternative|
|Used with a cover?||Not normally, although comforters can be used with duvet covers||Yes|
|Machine washable?||Usually; some models should be professionally cleaned only (check care tag)||The duvet cover is usually washable, but the duvet insert should be professionally cleaned|
|Other Bedding||A comforter should be used with a top sheet||A duvet is a standalone bedspread that does not require a top sheet or other bedding accessories|
Just like with sheets, quality materials can make or break your experience with the product. Below, we’ll go over the pros and cons of specific outer shell and fill materials in comforters.
The shell material of a comforter is the outer part that you come into contact with. Most comforters have an outer shell that’s not meant to be covered, unlike a duvet insert.
Cotton is a very commonly found in outer shells. The most common types of cotton in production are Egyptian, Pima, and upland. Long staple cotton is seen as desirable for its quality and durability.
Silk is a fairly uncommon outer shell covering, but you may find it in premium products. This is likely due its difficulty to wash and how easily sun and water can damage the material.
Wool can be a great outer shell for comforters or duvets for people who want to feel extra warm. This material also resists moisture and wrinkling.
This blend is very commonly found in duvet covers. The pros of both materials — combined with the price point — make it a beneficial blend. You’ll pay less and still get fairly comparable quality and easy care.
Fill material is what’s inside your comforter or duvet. The fill often determines how warm and soft your comforter or duvet feels. While goose and duck down are popular options, many comforters are also filled with down alternative, cotton, or wool.
The term ‘down’ refers to the softer plumage that grow underneath the longer, coarser exterior feathers of geese. Most down is collected from the stomach of these birds. Down tends to be fluffier and more lightweight than outer feathers. Goose down in particular has a higher lift, trapping and distributing more warmth than duck down. It’s also usually the more pricey of the two.
Duck down is similar to goose down, with some key differences. Duck down comes from smaller birds, meaning that it has a less high “fill power” (which you can read more about below). On the upside, you can usually get duck down at a lower cost than goose down.
Down alternative refers to polyester puffballs that mimic the softness and fluffiness of natural down. This is a great option for people who are concerned about animal cruelty or want a more environmentally-friendly option. Down alternative also comes at a lower price point and ideal for people with allergies or asthma.
Cotton is a common filling for comforters. On the positive side, it can make for a lightweight duvet or comforter. It’s also less expensive than down. On the downside, it may not be as warm as you’d like for the winter months.
Wool comforters are made of the fleece of sheep (and other mammals). This material is exceptionally warm and can keep you toasty during cool nights.
Silk, woven from the extremely strong fibers of silk worms, is a luxurious and smooth material. While it can be found on occasion as a fill, it’s not very common.
When comparing different types of down/feather fill, it’s important to consider fill power. This term refers to how light and fluffy the material feels, as well as the overall quality of the fill. The higher the fill power, the better the quality. Fill power generally ranges from 400 to 800.
Fill power is also associated with fill weight. Generally speaking, the lighter the fill, the higher the fill power, and vice versa. You should consider fill power when deciding how warm you want to be at night. A low fill power will generally keep you cooler, though it also depends on the materials in the fill.
Just as with bed sheets and pillowcases, thread count and weave matter with comforter shells. If you want to learn more about the impact of these two elements, you can check out our section on thread count and our section on weave in this article.
Tuck’s testers have developed a comprehensive rating criteria that takes several categories into account. The table below goes over items such as shell and fill material quality, durability, breathability, and cleaning to help you pick the best comforter or duvet out there. All this criteria factors into our comforter and duvet insert reviews in the next section.
|Shell Material Quality||Evaluates how the shell, or exterior of the comforter, feels on your skin. Rates the level of quality in materials producers used to make it.|
|Fill Material Quality||Looks at how the fill, or material found inside the comforter, performs. Rates the level of quality for materials manufacturers used to produce it.|
|Warmth||Assesses how warm a comforter is. While some keep you warm in cold temperatures, others may require an additional blanket to stay warm.|
|Breathability||Evaluates comforters that will keep sleepers from overheating. A breathable material has good airflow and wicks away moisture.|
|Durability||Looks at how long the comforter lasts. Most comforters last for around 15 years.|
|Cleaning||Determines the difficulty level of different cleaning requirements. Also measures how easy it is to clean the comforter.|
Buffy takes environmentally friendly bedding seriously, and they prove this with their Cloud Comforter. Their eucalyptus fabric is silky smooth and will make your skin feel nurtured with anti-inflammatory properties. You’ll also get a free trial along with free shipping and returns.
Parachute’s Down Duvet Insert feels luxuriously soft, fluffy, and warm. The baffle box construction keeps down evenly distributed, while the double stitched piping keeps down from escaping. Take advantage of a 90-day free trial and free shipping and returns. Comes with a five year warranty.
Whether you’re an animal lover or simply on a budget, Tuft & Needle offers a down alternative that is both cruelty-free and affordable. This duvet insert comes in light and medium weights for different seasons. Get a 100-night free trial, free returns, and a two-year limited warranty.
Once you’ve picked out a duvet or comforter you love, you might want to protect it. Having a duvet cover makes washing easier, and prevents you from having to clean the actual duvet nearly as often. Below, we’ll walk you through common duvet cover materials and weaves, along with our favorite picks.
This sateen duvet has luxury and comfort written all over it. The sateen is both soft and durable, and feels better as time passes. Take advantage of their 90-day free trial with free shipping and returns.
This cover is perfect if you tend to overheat at night. Tuft & Needle’s sheets are OEKO-Tex Certified, meaning their products are environmentally friendly. They come with a 100-night free trial, two-year limited warranty, and free returns.
Casper offers a crisp and breathable duvet cover that will get softer and more cozy with time. It has a 400 two-ply thread count and is OEKO-Tex Certified. Comes with a 100-night trial period, free shipping and returns, and one-year limited warranty.
A blanket refers to the insulating layer between the top sheet and the comforter. Some sleepers prefer to tuck their blankets into the sides of their mattress for extra warmth, while others let the blanket rest freely on the top sheet. Either way, blankets are sized slightly longer and wider than mattresses to provide some overlap on the sides. Below, we’ll explore different blanket types including material and weave.
Common fabrics used to make blankets include:
Cotton: Cotton is a popular choice for cooler, lightweight blankets. Due to its relative durability, cotton is also machine washable. However, these blankets are not usually suitable for year-round temperature neutrality; depending on the construction, they may be too cool or too warm for certain times of the year.
Wool: Natural wool extracted from sheep is dense and highly durable. The material also wicks away moisture and offers exceptional temperature neutrality; it will keep sleepers warm during the colder months, and is also breathable enough for warm weather. Two notable downsides: many people are allergic to natural wool, and wool blankets can be somewhat pricey.
Cashmere: Cashmere comes from goats, not sheep, but shares many of the same properties as wool. However, cashmere blankets are usually much more expensive than wool blankets.
Polyester: Polyester blankets are considered a low-price alternative to all-cotton blankets, as they provide the same softness and are just as durable. However, polyester is not as breathable as cotton, and the material is a known conductor of static electricity.
Fleece: Fleece is a synthetic version of wool. It is usually cheaper than wool without sacrificing warmth or density, and may be a good alternative for sleepers with wool allergies. Unlike wool, however, fleece may be too warm for certain times of the year.
Acrylic: Acrylic is a synthetic alternative to wool or cashmere that is warm and hypoallergenic. It is also lighter than these other materials, and acrylic blankets tend to be cheaper. However, acrylic — like polyester — has static potential and is also susceptible to pilling, a form of wear and tear that causes balls of fabric to form on the surface.
Weaving styles used for blankets include the following:
Unlike weaving, which involves yarns being twisted together to create a fabric, knitting involves a continuous thread featuring a series of proportional loops. There are no warp or weft threads in knitting; rather, new loops are pulled through existing loops to create an interloping structure. Knitted yarns have better circulation than woven fabrics due to the openings between the loops, and knit blankets tend to be drapier.
Snuggle up with a waffle patterned blanket from Magic Linen that comes in two different sizes. This linen/cotton blend is light and cozy, perfect to fend off a chilly draft. Magic Linen’s products are OEKO-Tex Certified and machine washable.
Creswick’s wool blend blanket is both cozy and easy to care for. Its natural temperature regulation makes it perfect for use around the house in all seasons. You can buy this product on Amazon Prime for quick delivery.
Snuggle up in this super-soft blanket or use it as room decor. The wide variety of color gives this blanket cheer and versatility. You can order this product with Amazon Prime. An added bonus: no fuss care and machine washable.
At the end of the day, only one thing about bedding matters: that you’re comfortable and can sleep well. After running through this guide, we hope you’ll have these key takeaways: