How to Buy Sheets

Is there a difference between the  $30 sheets and the $300 set you see at the store? Domestic CEO breaks down what sheets are all about, and helps you figure out which ones are right for you and your bed.

Amanda Thomas
5-minute read
Episode #144

Last week,I talked about how to get the perfect mattress. And once you have the mattress covered, it’s time to make sure you have the perfect bedding to top it.

I used to think buying sheets was easy - I’d simply go to the store, look for the prettiest set to match my décor, and bring them home. Then I got a little older, and started to realize that some of my sheets didn't feel as comfortable as others. In fact, some sheets actually kept me up at night!

I started to do a little research, and quickly realized that there were many reasons my sheets weren’t giving me a good night’s sleep. Once I learned more, and found the right sheets for me and my sensitive skin, I’ve been able to sleep much better.

So, what is the difference between all the sheets you see at the store? Today, we’re going to talk about some of the differences between the $30 sheets and the $300 set, and help you figure out which ones are right for you and your bed.

What are they made of?

The first thing to consider when buying sheets is the fabric used to make them. There are pros and cons to each type of material.


Pros: Cotton sheets are cooler to sleep in because the fabric is more breathable, which means it allows new air to go through the sheets. This air keeps the sheets from heating up, making them feel crisp and cool all night long. Cotton sheets also wick away moisture, so if you perspire any bit at night, your sheets will quickly absorb the moisture, making you feel dry and cool, too.

Cons: Cotton sheets, especially less expensive ones, often don’t last as long as some other materials. They may start to pill quickly, or they may thin and tear in less time. If you want cotton sheets that will last longer, you will need to investing more money up front. Long-weave sheets, such as ones labeled Pima, Egyptian, or Supima, are very high quality. They will be softer and last much longer than standard cotton sheets, so if you have the money to spend on them, you likely won’t regret it.

Long-weave sheets, such as ones labeled Pima, Egyptian, or Supima, are very high quality.

Cotton/Poly blend:

Pros: Many sheets on the market are made of a cotton/polyester blend, typically in percentages like 50/50 or 60/40. These sheets are wrinkle resistant, less expensive, and typically more durable, because the polyester lasts longer than cotton. Most microfiber sheet sets are a 60/40 blend, which makes them very soft, durable, and affordable.

Cons: The challenge with sheets with a polyester blend is that they don’t breathe well. If you are a hot sleeper or sweat at night, the polyester is going to keep the heat and sweat close to your body. Also, if you have sensitive skin, the polyester may start to make you a little itchy or uncomfortable at night.


Pros: Silk/satin sheets have a very luxurious feel to them and are super soft. They also trap warmth, so if you are a cold sleeper, these may be just the solution to help keep you warm at night. They are also very durable and will last you a long time.

Cons: The cons associated with silk/satin sheets are based on their impractiality. First, they often need to be dry cleaned instead of machine washed, so if you typically clean your sheets frequently, this can get very costly. The other downside is that they are very smooth - sometimes even slippery. They aren’t as bad as the silk sheets of the 90s - on which you could easily slip right out of bed! - but they are still slick enough that you may need to completely remake your bed every other day or so.

Thread count

Most people think a super-high thread count is the holy grail of sheets, but that’s not always the case. Thread counts above 1000 may sound like something you can brag to your friends about, but they can often be difficult to care for.

I had a friend who once purchased 1800TC sheets, and while they were soft and felt very durable, they also were a wrinkled mess every time they came out of the dryer. She wasn’t the type of person who wanted to iron her sheets, but she found herself ironing them every single time she washed them, just so they would lay flat on the bed.

I wouldn’t recommend buying sheets under 200 thread count, but other than that, there’s not much difference - until you get above 800 thread count.

I typically aim for about 400-600 thread count in most brands, but if you are looking to save money, it’s better to get a lower thread count from a trusted brand than go for higher thread count from an off-brand. Trust brands that typically have higher certification standards (yes, there are ways to manipulate things to make lower quality sheets qualify as higher thread count), so put your trust in the better brands first.

Mattress size

If you purchased your mattress, you probably know what size it is. But if it’s a hand me down, you may not.

If you have any doubt, measure your mattress before heading to the store to buy sheets.

For your reference, here are the sizes of the standard American beds:

  • Twin: 39 inches wide x 76 inches long
  • Twin XL: 39 inches wide x 80 inches long
  • Full: 53 inches wide x 75 inches long
  • Queen: 60 inches wide x 80 inches long
  • King: 76 inches wide x 80 inches long
  • California King: 72 inches wide x 84 inches long

Mattress depth

There are few things worse than waking up in the middle of the night tangled in a fitted sheet that has come off the mattress. To prevent this from happening, measure the depth of your mattress before buying sheets.

Remember to make sure the measurement includes any and all toppers you have on your mattress; if you have a foam or feather bed topper, that can easily add inches to your mattress, requiring you to go up a pocket size.

Most sheet sets state how many inches of mattress they can accommodate. But in case the set you find doesn’t, here’s a quick list of what the pocket size terms mean:

  • Standard pocket size - accommodates 7” to 12” mattress depth
  • Deep pocket size - accommodates 13” to 17” mattress depth
  • Extra Deep pocket size - accommodates 18” to 25” mattress depth

A last note on pillowcases

For many years, I didn’t realize a couple things about pillowcases. First, they come in different sizes: Standard and King. King sheet sets always come with king pillow cases, because they assume you are using king size (longer) pillows on the larger bed.

If you don’t use longer pillows on your King bed, you can either buy an extra set of matching standard-sized pillowcases, or just simply tuck in the ends of the longer pillow cases to give it a clean look.

The other thing I didn’t realize was that Twin sheet sets only come with one pillowcase. Since the beds are smaller, it’s assumed that most people will only have one pillow. So if you use multiple pillows on your Twin bed, remember to grab an extra matching pillowcase or 2 when you buy your sheet set.

Consider getting the right sheets for your needs as an investment into your health, as they can help you get a good night’s sleep. Choosing the right ones will help make sure that you are well rested, and ready to tackle each new day!

Until next time, I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home. Share your thoughts on sheets and more on my Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook pages.