Comfortable sheets that stay in place are essential to a good night's sleep. Comfort, of course, is highly subjective. Some prefer the softness of a sateen weave while other prefer the crisp feeling of a percale weave. Flannel is another popular type of cotton bed sheets. In addition to cotton, bedding can be made of many other fibers, such as cotton blends, natural fibers like rayon, bamboo or silk, or polyester. Experts warn that how sheets feel in the store isn't always a good indicator of how they will feel after repeated washings, as many products have a finish applied during the manufacturing process that washes off. (Organic cotton sheets are free of this type of chemical treatment during manufacturing.)
Fit and durability also rank high on most consumers' wish list for sheets. We found the best bed-sheet reviews that include those criteria at ConsumerReports.org. Editors evaluate 23 sheet sets according to how well they fit a queen-size mattress and hold up after five wash-and-dry cycles. The accompanying buyer's guide, which covers topics like fabric choice and thread count, provides some useful insight into getting past industry hype and choosing good sheets for a reasonable price.
Good Housekeeping magazine evaluates 12 sheet sets with a focus on bedding for a dorm room. A twin bed is used to test the fit, and durability testing is similar to ConsumerReports.org in that the sheets are put through five cycles of washing and drying.
A few expert reviews focus on luxury bedding. At About.com, Coral Nafie, the guide to interior decorating, discusses six luxury brands, some of which are also represented in 3Luxe.com's list of the top three bed sheets. Neither of these reviews appears to be based on independent testing, however. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Several online retailers offer expert bed-sheet reviews. For reviews of bed sheets made of organic cotton, silk or other natural fibers, we turn to AllergyBuyersClub.com. Editors rate the products on a five-star scale and provide detailed product reviews, but only products sold there are evaluated. LinenPlace.com has a similar but less detailed ranking of the bed sheets they sell.
For better insight into comfort and durability after everyday use, we turn to bed sheet user reviews at online retailers. JCPenney.com, GarnetHill.com and Walmart.com sell their own brand of sheets in addition to others, while LLBean.com sells only their brand of sheets. We found fewer bed-sheet reviews by owners at BedBathAndBeyond.com, Amazon.com and Target.com.
We found no shortage of bedding buying guides at online retailers that clearly explain important considerations beyond thread count.