Bed linen buying guide

Why do you want to buy new bed linen?

I want to be more comfortable

A brand new mattress and the right pillows for your sleeping position are the backbone of a good night’s sleep but the feel of the linen against your skin has its part to play too. If you wake up several times in the night and can’t get comfy again, it’s time to start thinking about changing your bedding.

Before buying anything, ask yourself how do you like to feel in bed. Crisp and fresh or soft and luxurious? Do you get too hot or are you constantly trying to defrost? The answers lie in getting the fabric just right.

I want a fresh new look

If your new bed linen buy is the result of wanting to change things up in your bedroom then great! Whether you’re going for slick minimalism, shabby chic, nordic simplicity, country rustic or total glamourpuss - get clued up on what you what you should be investing in to achieve a top quality finish that feels as good as it looks.

I need something that lasts and washes well

If you have young children, are looking after an elderly relative or have allergies in the family, chances are you need linen that’s easycare, can withstand several washes, is hygienic and doesn’t need ironing (does anyone actually DO that?).

Top tip!
The average Brit spends a third of their life in bed. All that time demands the best bed linen don’t you think?

Signs you need new bed sheets

  • The colour has faded. If your duvet cover, pillowcases and sheet are a shadow of their former vibrant selves then it’s a clear sign that they’re past their best and have been through too many washes
  • The bedding feels weak. Over time and after several spins in the washing machine the fabric loses its strength and becomes more stretchy. Out with the old…
  • Sheets are bobbly or thin in patches. Whatever fabric or blend your sheets are made with, they have given up the ghost! Another casualty of the washing machine
  • Sweat stains won’t shift. Our bodies lose up to a pint of sweat every night which has to go somewhere! When you change the bedding and can see body-shaped shadows on the sheets they need to be thrown away. Otherwise bacteria will make a home there. Ewww

Fabrics, weaves and thread counts: what does it all mean?

A full breakdown of the pros and cons of fabric types, why weaves matter and what exactly thread count is all about.

Natural vs. synthetic

Natural fibres like silk, wool and cotton are made directly from plants or animals. They are naturally soft, breathable (draws moisture from the skin) and responsive to temperature (will adapt to your body heat).

Synthetic or man-made fibres like polyester and acrylic are so common in bedding because they’re easy to wash, don’t harbour as many germs and are cheaper.

Can you have both?
Yes! Polyester and cotton blends create a good balance of easy care and softness. Note: blends with a higher percentage of polyester dry faster, iron easier and carry colour better.

Cotton bed linen

Cotton is durable, easy to wash, long-lasting, affordable, comfortable, breathable and soft - for all these reasons it’s the most popular fabric for bed linen. Top tip: don’t assume anything labelled as ‘organic cotton’ is totally natural. Whilst the fibre might be grown organically, it doesn’t always follow that it was processed without toxic chemicals.

Cotton variations include:

Cotton percale - combed for a high quality feel
Egyptian cotton - comes from a specific plant, is finer and stronger than pure cotton
Pima cotton - only grown in the USA, Peru and Australia, is extra fine and luxurious
Genuisa cotton - the most exquisite, made from Indian and Suvin cotton

Polycotton blends

Modern living sometimes demands laundry that’s easy to wash and quick drying. A polycotton blend benefits from the durability of polyester and softness of cotton. High quality blends have a higher percentage of cotton.

Silk bed linen

Silk is super indulgent and complicated to produce - that’s why it’s so expensive. Silk sheets also have the health benefits of being hypoallergenic, machine washable and regulating body temperature.

Top tip!
Silk bedding helps your skin and hair retain moisture - preventing wrinkles and ‘bed head’ frizz. So you can literally sleep yourself young, wow.

What is thread count?

The number of threads packed into a square inch of fabric. What does that mean? Well, it’s all about how closely woven the fabric is, the closer it is, the higher the thread count. Generally, high thread counts result in a smoother feel against the skin.

Thread count quality scale

200 - 220
Very good
230 - 280
300 - 400
500 - 600

Is a higher thread count always better?

No, not always. If the quality of the thread itself isn’t top notch, then it won’t matter how high the thread count is. A really good, luxurious sheet should be both fine quality cotton AND high thread count.

Top tip!
If investing in a high thread count, you’ll need to put more time and effort into keeping it looking good. Which may involve ironing (gasp).

Find for your perfect bed linen

Do you the the difference between a continental pillowcase and a superking pillowcase? Now you will...

The standard housewife pillowcase
The most common style of pillowcase in the UK. Rectangular shape, no detail around the edge, approx 50 x 75cm.

The Oxford pillowcase
It’s the same size as a housewife pillowcase, but features a frilled border - an ‘Oxford edge’. Will fit any standard pillow.

The superking pillowcase
These can be housewife or Oxford but are slightly longer to fit larger beds. Approx 50 x 90cm.

The Continental pillowcase
These are ideal as a back pillow to prop yourself up against the headboard. Continental pillowcases are approx 65 x 65cm and can be housewife or Oxford styles.

Bed linen care Q&A

How often should I change my bedding?
Depends on how sweaty you get! If you sweat in your sleep, change bed sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers weekly, otherwise fortnightly is ok.

Which detergent is best for bed linen?
Liquids and gels vary in their stain removing abilities because they don’t contain bleach but they are very good at keeping colours bright. If you need something that’s tough on stains, go for a powder detergent, followed by fabric softener.

Can I tumble dry my bedding?
Check the care label before tumble drying. The higher quality the cotton, the more likely it is to shrink in a tumble dryer. If you’re worried, put your bedding on a delicate dryer setting and remove before they dry out completely.

How can I get the best cleaning results for my bedding?
We recommend washing your bedding once a week on a hot wash to get it really clean. Don’t pack the drum! A full load could be just the sheet and pillowcases. Dry on a high heat and don’t allow your bedding to fester in a long-cycle wash, it will smell even when dry!

Top tip!
If you put your clean bed linen on your bed when it’s the teeniest bit damp, it will de-crinkle without the need for ironing.