In this report
May 2010 Recommended
May 2010 Ratings
How to choose

How to choose

Last reviewed: May 2010

Sheets are hardly a new or complicated product. So we think companies should be able to make sheets that fit well, don't shrink, are strong, and don't cost hundreds of dollars. But for now you'll need to shop carefully.

Learn the lingo

Usually long-fiber cottons, such as pima, Supima, and Egyptian, are stronger and less likely to pill. Combed cotton has short fibers and debris removed, resulting in a smoother fabric. Usually cotton/polyester blends don't wrinkle as much as 100 percent cotton sheets, but they aren't as soft or as porous, so you may feel warmer while sleeping.

Choose crisp or soft

Feeling new sheets in the store won't help you figure out how the sheets will feel once they're washed. That's because sheets are usually treated with fabric enhancers and softeners to improve hand feel. To help you choose, our trained sensory panelists judged the sheets' softness and crispness after five washings. Weave also affects how the sheets feel. Percale is closely woven and feels crisper, while sateen has a softer feel and a glossier look. Twill weaves create a heavier fabric that can feel soft or crisp.

Get the right fit

Measure your mattress' height, including mattress pads. Remember that padding settles, so measure in at least two spots away from the corners. Buy sheets that are a couple of inches deeper to allow for normal shrinkage.

Keep your receipt

Before using sheets, wash them to remove finishes or excess dye. If the sheets shrink or fade, or if you don't like how they feel once they're washed, you'll need the receipt to return them. Ditto if the sheets are mislabeled or if sets are missing pieces.