The earliest bed sheets were made of linens. They’re white in color and softer than cotton. The Egyptians were the first to master the weaving of linen fabric, but it was the Europeans that brought it to the New World.
At the end of the 19th century, cotton sheet was invented. But although cotton is easier to cultivate and easier to produce, linen sheets remain very popular. Other types of fabrics used for bed sheets nowadays are brocade, silk, percale, satin, flannel and polyester.
Below we set out all the different types of sheets you can buy… speaking of buying, be sure to check out our list of 42 online bedding stores.
Table of Contents
The flat sheet is the one that most people lay under. It is put on the bed after the fitted sheet and before the rest of the blankets. Flat sheets come in all different sizes and materials, and while some people don’t think that they have to use them, they are great for making sure that your sweat, during the middle of the night, doesn’t get on the rest of your blankets, causing you to have to wash them all. If you have a problem with pulling off your flat sheet, either when making the bed or when you are tossing and turning during the night, then you will want to invest in a flat sheet that has a pocket at the bottom in the same way that fitted sheets do. This will allow you to put the sheet more securely on the bed so that you don’t have to worry about it pulling off.
A fitted sheet is the sheet that is securely put on the mattress. It has pockets at all four corners that are tightened with elastic, so the sheet will be very secure once put on the bed, and won’t move around or easily pop off. Getting the right size fitted sheet for your bed is imperative or you will not be able to easily put it on. Fitted sheets that are too small simply won’t stretch far enough to be put on a mattress, and ones that are too big will be loose and flop around, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep and causing the fitted sheet to come off the mattress during the middle of the night.
Twin sheets are generally 39 inches by 75 inches (99 centimeters by 191 centimeters). While this is the most common size for beds in children’s rooms, if you have a twin bed that is a little longer than normal or want to make sure that your child has enough sheet to be comfortable during the night, then it’s a good idea to opt for twin XL sheets. These have just a little extra length that make it easy to make the bed, and will allow your child to pull the sheets up around their face, so that they are really comfortable.
Larger than a twin bed but smaller than a queen, if you have a double bed, you have to make sure that you have sheets that are sized correctly or you will constantly be frustrated by the struggle that you have trying to make your bed. These sheets are 54 inches by 75 inches (137 centimeters by 201 centimeters) and provide enough room that you can easily sleep with two people in the bed, and not fight over who has more of the sheet. The flat sheet can range a little in size, so it’s important to make sure you find one that will fit with your mattress and provide you with enough overhead, so you can make the bed easily. Some manufacturers will refer to these sheets as “full” instead of calling them “double”.
A queen bed is a very popular size because it is a little roomier than a double or a full bed, but doesn’t take as much effort to make and to keep looking nice the way a king size bed does. Generally, the sheets for a queen are going to be 59 inches by 79 inches (150 centimeters by 201 centimeters), but just like with the double beds, the sizes are going to vary a little, so you have to pay attention when you are shopping for sheets. If you are in a pinch you can use queen sheets on your double bed, although they will be very loose and the fitted sheet, in particular, may not be terribly comfortable to sleep on. For some people, this is worth it, as buying the wrong size sheets can be very frustrating and being able to use them on a smaller bed can save you a trip back to the store to return them.
At 80 inches by 80 inches (203 centimeters square), this is a very large sheet for a large bed. King beds are more expensive than queen because of their size, so it’s not very common for people to have a queen bed and to need king sheets. While the queen sheets can be used on a double bed in a pinch, it’s not common to use king size sheets on a queen bed because the bed is so large and the sheets are almost not manageable. When looking for sheets for a king bed, you have to make sure that you determine if you need king or California king sheets, as there is a difference.
While the king size bed is very large, the California king, still larger than a queen, is narrower than the traditional king. This means that while it is still very long, two people sleeping in a California king bed aren’t going to have as much space as they would if they were sleeping in a regular king. These beds are generally more expensive than regular king beds and, therefore, not as popular a choice for many people. Because of this, their sheets are a little more difficult to find and tend to be more expensive.
While most beds contain just a single mattress, split king beds have two mattresses and therefore require two fitted sheets to fit on them. They do only have one flat sheet that is large enough to cover the whole bed. While this may seem like an odd setup for a bed, since there are two mattresses, each person sleeping in the bed is able to have complete control over the firmness of their mattress. This ensures that both people get the best possible night’s sleep and there isn’t any arguing over the type of mattress they use. Having two separate fitted sheets, makes it easy to make this bed, instead of trying to stretch a large fitted sheet over two separate mattresses and ensures that, even with tossing and turning, both people are as comfortable as possible during the night.
It’s really easy to find sheets that are made out of cotton, and it’s so popular for a number of reasons. Cotton does a great job staying cool, even during the hot summer months, is easy to wash and to care for, gets softer as time goes on, and is breathable. One of the main reasons that a lot of people opt for cotton sheets is that they are so durable and can be thrown into the washing machine at home without any hesitation. Cotton in general is a very forgiving fabric, and stains usually can be washed out of it without any problems.
Made from the flax plant, linen has been around for a long time and is becoming more popular as a material for sheets. These sheets are anti-allergic, help people with skin diseases, and ensure that children are safe when they are sleeping. They allow a lot of air flow through the fabric, so you don’t have to worry about getting overheated or uncomfortable during the night. Each washing of linen sheets makes them even softer and shinier and they hold up very well over the years. One problem that some people have with linen sheets is that they stay wrinkled, but as long as the bed is made you will not be able to see this.
Flannel is a great option when you are going to be dealing with really cold nights during the winter. Actually made of cotton that has been fluffed to be softer, and to allow it to have a deeper pile, flannel does a great job trapping body heat. This makes it ideal for cold nights, as it will allow you to stay warmer than other types of sheets. While you may be used to looking at thread count when comparing sheets, flannel sheets are compared in ounces/square yards. While you can sometimes find flannel sheets all year long, it’s going to be more popular and easier to buy in local stores as winter and the holidays approach.
Silk sheets have long been considered the most luxurious option available. They are incredibly cool and sensuous and many people love the way they feel. Because they are naturally hypoallergenic, they are a great option for anyone who suffers from allergies throughout the year, as they will help make the bed a more comfortable place to sleep. They do tend to be much more expensive than other kinds of sheets because they are made from a fiber produced by silkworms, and require more delicate care. While some people love their silk sheets, others find them a little difficult and slippery to sleep on.
Polyester is generally not used by itself for sheets but is combined with another fabric, such as cotton, to create sheets that are budget friendly. When you buy polyester sheets it’s important to remember that by itself it is very scratchy and stiff, and doesn’t tend to be nearly as comfortable to sleep on as other types of material.
This type of material is simply, polyester that has been woven very finely. These sheets are a lot softer than plain polyester sheets are but not nearly as breathable as cotton sheets, so they can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep if it is warm in your room or you tend to get hot during the night. They are very durable and can stand up to stains, making them a great choice if you like to eat in bed or have a child who is very messy.
What most people don’t know is that bamboo sheets are often actually made of rayon. This means that instead of being rough and stiff the way that bamboo would be when made into fabric, it has gone through a process that dissolves the pulp, turns it back into a solid, and then spins it into a thread. This involves very harmful chemicals, and while there are no traces of these chemicals when the sheets are finished, it is not a very environmentally-friendly process. The resulting fabric is silky and soft, durable, and breathes like cotton, giving people the best of both silk and cotton sheets without the crazy price tag that is so common with silk.
Flat Sheet with Pocket
While these types of flat sheets can be very tricky to find, they are worth the hunt if you find that you are constantly pulling off your flat sheet during the night, and then having to remake your bed every morning. This is especially useful for people who toss and turn during the night and pull their sheet up, getting it tangled around their legs in the process. Unlike regular flat sheets that are a simple piece of fabric tucked under the mattress at the bottom of the bed to hold it in shape, flat sheets that have pockets, have pockets at the bottom the way that fitted sheets do. The top of the flat sheet doesn’t have pockets so that it can still be used like a regular flat sheet, but the pockets at the bottom allow it to be more securely attached to the mattress. This will prevent people from pulling the sheet off the bed when they are sleeping.
Perfect for any child or adult who has problems with sensory processing and benefits from a weighted blanket, a sensory compression sheet gives you the feeling of deep pressure all over your body without the added heat of a heavy blanket in the summer. These sheets are very stretchy and will pull tight on the user, helping to calm their nervous system and relax at the end of the day. Made of breathable fabric that won’t heat up during the summer, they are light enough to use all year long but also work perfectly under other covers during the winter. By tucking the sensory compression sheet in on the sides of the bed over the fitted sheet, it is then used as the flat sheet, but is pulled tight around the person sleeping to give them a feeling of safety and security.
While it may seem a little strange to personalize your sheets, if you live in a large family and are constantly having to fight the other family members for your sheets on laundry day, then you will quickly see the benefit of having them expertly personalized. This is especially important if you have the best sheets in the home and want to make sure that nobody takes them when you aren’t looking. As a gift, personalized sheets are very special and will stand out from the gift of other linens. They make a great wedding gift, especially when they have the new last name of the couple embroidered on them.
It’s easy to take the guesswork out of finding sheets that will fit your bed, as well as ensure that your sheets match and look great together when you buy a sheet set. These usually come with four pieces, including a fitted sheet, flat sheets, and pillowcases, although, you can sometimes buy sheet sets that come with more pillow cases. If you do not choose a sheet set then you will have to buy all of the individual components you need to make your bed, and while some people like this, others prefer to have their sheets already chosen and packaged together for them, making it easy to make your bed with matching sheets that look and feel great together.
Up to 250
Thread count is the number of threads that pass through a square inch of your sheet. If the manufacturer is able to run one hundred threads vertically and one hundred thread horizontally, then the thread count will be 200. Any thread count that is less than 250 is going to be a little rough, but will generally get much softer over time as the sheets are washed. Touching the sheets and feeling how soft they are, as well as paying attention to the quality of stitching, will help you buy high-quality lower thread count sheets that will still be comfortable but won’t break the bank.
Most people find that any thread count between 180 and 400 is going to be ideal, very soft, and incredibly comfortable to sleep on. General wisdom dictates that higher thread counts are going to be more comfortable and softer to sleep on, and while this is true in theory up to a point, at some point it gets impossible for manufacturers to actually obtain the high thread counts that they are claiming. This is when it becomes even more important to research the quality of the manufacturer you are considering buying from, really pay attention to the feel of the sheets, and consider what kind of material was used in the sheets to help you make a good choice.
500 and Up
While many people look for the highest thread count they can find because finer threads are generally softer and more comfortable to sleep on, there is a problem that occurs when looking at incredibly high thread counts. Common sense dictates that manufacturers will not be able to actually fit 500 horizontal threads and 500 vertical threads in a square inch of fabric to create sheets that are 1000 count, but it’s easy to buy sheets that have even higher counts. What the manufacturer does to ensure that they have the highest possible count is twist fibers together to create plies that are then used to make up each thread. Instead of counting the actual threads running through the fabric, they then count each of the plies they have twisted together. While one manufacturer might call a thread made of four plies one thread, another may refer to it as four threads, which allows them to easily boost the thread count on their sheets.
If you have a thick mattress then you will need to buy sheets that have deep pockets to accommodate the extra thick mattress. Even if they have a mattress that is standard, some people like to buy sheets that are a little deeper as they are often easier to put on the bed, and do a better job of staying in place so that the fitted sheet doesn’t pop off during the night.
Standard pockets are perfect for most mattresses. Unless you were told when you bought your new mattress that you would need deeper pockets, then you will probably be fine with standard ones. If, however, you tend to toss and turn during the night, then you may benefit from deeper pockets as standard ones can easily slip off the mattress, causing you to have to remake the bed each morning. Children, especially, seem to have this problem as they tend to have difficulties getting comfortable and staying in one position during the night.
Related: 7 Alternatives to Bed Skirts