I’ve been frustrated lately with sheets that tear or breakdown after two or three years. A friend uses Irish linen sheets, which are out of my budget right now (running at $250 per sheet). So I started researching for alternatives that would last much longer without wearing thin. I found this advice from an anonymous poster on the DC Urban Mom message boards and thought I would share.
- If a sheet is high thread count and satin/sateen weave, it will not hold up well, long term. The weave structure of sateen means that each thread floats on the surface of the fabric before being caught by a crosswise thread. These floats get more wear but they also mean that you can get a higher thread count because they will squeeze closer together. Extremely high thread counts just mean you have a thinner sheet, you will wear through it quicker.
- If you want your sheets to hold up you should wash them with warm/hot water, and as little detergent as you can get away with (you don’t want any detergent left in the sheets after the rinse). Use a soak setting if your machine has it and make sure to rinse with warm water as well. I also wash one set at a time on the large load setting but I don’t have a really large washer.
- Do not use fabric softeners, or any bleach type products. The fabric softeners make the sheet less absorbent. Bleach and bleach type products whiten/brighten by removing the top layer of the fabric. If you start off with a 600 thread count sateen sheet and you bleach it on a regular basis you are slowly making the fabric thinner and thinner and it wasn’t very thick to begin with. If you need to remove body oils use an enzymatic cleaner like Borax.
- If you want good sheets that will hold up well, lets say 10 -15 years if you have 2 – 3 sets, you want to purchase approx. 300 thread count percale sheets that are 100% cotton. If you want “heirloom” quality sheets, sheets that will last your lifetime and longer, you want percale woven 100% linen sheets (with no distressing). These have proven the test of time I have worked in museums where they have 18th, and 19th century sheets that were used for 50 – 60 years and are in amazing condition.