HOW DO I CHOOSE A NEW EGYPTIAN COTTON SHEET SET OR DUVET COVER SET? WHERE DO I BEGIN?
Many people wonder, "how do I choose the best Egyptian Cotton Sheet Set or Duvet Cover Set? I've heard about the importance of 'High Thread Count,' but how do really know what the best Sheets and Duvet Covers are?" Probably most of what you've heard has to do with the 'importance' of High Thread Count and the ongoing discussoin of just what is the best Thread Count for Sheets and Duvets.
The main key to understanding Sheets and Bed Linens is the knowledge that Thread Count is not the only determination in choosing Sheets and Bedding-in fact, it should be one of the final factors to consider. Very often, Bed Sheets reflecting what appear to be High Thread Count, often fall into the lowest range of Bed Linens.
The most basic, and most important, starting point is fiber content. Why's fiber so important? Because it's the basis of your entire Sheet Set, and poor fiber quality and content equals poor quality Bed Linens. So, what's your Sheet Set made of? Are the Sheets or Duvet Cover Set Egyptian Cotton, Pima Cotton, Silk or Bamboo?
Whenever possible, make sure the Sheets you’re considering are made entirely of Cotton of Single-Ply fibers. The longer the fibers, the better, with 2" fibers being supreme. The longest fibers are extremely rare, not found in typical Sheet Sets-for more information regarding 2" inch fibers please visit our Store. Try to find fibers that exceed 1" in length. Many Sheets commonly found may be near 0.5" in fiber length and Multiple-Ply, both of which should be avoided when possible.
The best Sheets and Duvets are made of Egyptian Cotton or Pima Cotton, with Egyptian Cotton considered the supreme natural fiber for Sheets, Bedding and Fine Linens. So "why not silk, or polyester?" you may ask. Silk is an outstanding fiber, providing wonderful softness, smoothness and drape. Pure Silk is exceptionally soft however can be fragile with cleaning, and therefore difficult to launder. Silk blends, such as Silk and Egyptian Cotton which can be found in certain sheet sets, offer a relatively better combination however are still outshone by 100$ Pure Egyptian Cotton Sheets. Washable Silks often feel luxurious right out of the package but tend to be far less durable, particularly with repeated washings and can be easily damaged in machines. When laundered incorrectly, or on too high of a temperature, Washable Silks can be easily ruined. Silk has a tendency to also stain easier, tear or be less durable if caught in the washing machine. The addition of a Silk Sheet Set to your regularly used bedding may work well for you, but isn't recommended for daily use if you're seeking longevity and durability as well as softness.
Linen is a fabric that has been popular for many years in Sheets, Bed Linens and Bedding used throughout Europe, including Italy and France. High heat temperatures make it a popular fabric for climates where fast moisture wick is a necessity. Recently, Linen Sheets and Linen Duvet Covers have become a trend in the U.S. as well, due to European influence. While Linens do have good moisture wick, they tend to wrinkle easier and be far less soft than Pure Egyptian Cotton.
Polyester is manmade, and the most durable fabric, and had been frequently used as a blend in Sheet Sets and Bed Linens until more recent years. Polyester doesn't tear easily, requires little care, and drastically reduces wrinkling. Many sheets produced in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were comprised of polyester blend. It was frequently blended with cottons, due to its wrinkle-reduction abilities. The trend away from use of Polyester in current Sheet Sets is attributed to the fabric's key problem with breathability-quite simply, there is none, which can be very uncomfortable in warm, hot or humid weather. During the night, the body naturally releases moisture, which is in turn wicked away by any all-natural fibers including Egyptian Cottonand Pima Cotton. Polyester, being man-made, is incapable of wicking away moisture and can make sleep difficult and highly uncomfortable.
Egyptian Cotton is the most superior of the Cottons, the most expensive, and currently the most popular for use in Bed Sheets, Sheet Sets and Duvet Cover Sets. There are, however, different grades and lengths of Egyptian Cotton and the term noting 'Egyptian Cotton' on packaging can be very misleading. Until recently, use of Egyptian Cotton in Bedding such as Sheet Sets, Duvet Cover Sets, Comforters and Coverlets has been extremely rare due to the expensive nature of the fibers. In the past several years, however, much of the Bedding industry has been inundated with items marked 'Egyptian Cotton.' Manufacturers have found a way around expense by utilizing discard grade or extremely short yarns of low grades. Because of this, Bedding marked 'Egyptian Cotton' no longer refers to only high-quality Fine Linens. In fact, the majority of Sheets are now marked as being made with Egyptian Cotton, most of which are of mediocre to horrendous quality due to fiber content grade, fiber length and poor-quality weaving methods.
Most Sheet Sets currently on the market are made of medium to extremely short fibers. Fiber length is crucial in determining the quality and longevity of your new Sheets or Duvet Cover Set, and often a difficult factor to decipher as a consumer. Use of short fibers causes roughnesss, pilling or what is known as surface balling, with a result of extremely poor wear and breakdown.
So how do you know the fiber length of the set you’re purchasing? Fiber length is not typically marked or notated on the package, at least not in terms of a numerical notation. Rarely, some manufacturers will specify that their product is Long-Yarn, at least providing the consumer some insight as to fiber length. Unfortunately this is a tricky area, as "Long Yarn" means simply that the fibers used are longer than the norm of short fibers.
A good starting point of ruling out short fiber sets is to review the package when possible, or speak with the manufacturer about ply before purchase. Multiple-ply (2-Ply or 4-Ply) Sheets and Duvets from manufacturers meeting FTC standards must now mark the exterior packaging that they are in fact utilizing more than one fiber in calculation of their Thread Count. Any reference to the product containing a multiple ply, such as 2-ply or 4-ply, is your immediate tip-off that the item you are reviewing is usually comprised of short fibers.
Because ply involves twisting Egyptian Cotton or Cotton threads together in order to create a longer 'fiber,' you’ll logically know that the necessity of fibers being twisted together to create length means the fibers used are fairly short. If you are concerned that your new Sheet Set or Duvet Cover may be Multiple-Ply, be sure to review the package or text carefully, as this notation can be buried in fine print or on the back of packaging.
Look for any notation on packaging that states 2-ply, which means 2 fibers have been twisted together, or 4-ply, meaning 4 fibers have been twisted together. This information is not always hidden. With knowledge that most consumers are unaware of what ply actually refers to, some manufacturers attempt to insinuate that "bigger is better," hoping larger numbers will be impressive.
For manufacturers that do state their bedding products as Long-Yarn, test their knowledge wherever possible. To review, Long-Yarn is a relative term and refers only to the yarns used being longer than short yarns. Whenever possible, talk with the manufacturer or company to inquire about fiber length.
Few companies are familiar with the weaving process or their products and will rarely be able to answer questions related to ply, fiber and yarns. Those who can, and do, are generally capable of providing a better product. Many companies will tell you exactly what you want to hear, so phrase your questions in the form of 'what ply is this Sheet Set' or 'Can you tell me more about ply' rather than 'Is this single-ply." If the answers you receive are or the company seems unfamiliar with fiber length or ply, odds are you can be assured that the product you are receiving is most likely standard or lower grade, not amongst the top tier.
Know the company reputation of the Sheets, Duvet Cover Set or Bedding from which you are purchasing. While this may seem insignificant, it holds far more relevance than most consumers initially realize.
Understand that in-store retail sets are designed to appeal to the masses, and tend to fall into the category of standard or even low-quality sets. Because most retail stores operate according to a theory of volume, product knowledge is not going to be as highly specialized in areas where the goal is volume of units sold. Prices may seem appealing.
Be aware that, nearly all of the time, high-end sets are simply not available at traditional retailers or mainstream shopping venues. Additionally, know that retailers offering many different varieties of items are not going to be Bedding or Sheet Set specialists. Don’t expect them to be. It’s simply not their focus, so don’t be disappointed or have expectations that won't be met. If the retailer you’re considering offers a range of non-bedding items, realize they're not going to possess as extensive knowledge about the Bedding you’re considering. There are many online retailers, most of whom carry similar or identical standard and low grade sets. Understand that there are specialists, and there are also discounters.
Do not expect to receive the same level of knowledge and service from a standard retailer as from a specialist. If you can, scan the company’s product description for references or links to where they’ve been featured. Or, type the company name into a main search engine such as Google, Yahoo or MSN, accompanied by the type of product you’re seeking. Find out what others have to say about the company or its specialization of products whenever possible. Review feedback, product reviews or referring non-biased sites. For companies that specialize in a variety of products other than Sheets or Bedding, never accept the company’s general reputation because the overall reputation will not reflect the company's specific Sheet Set ratings and standards.
You’ll find that companies that handle a range of non-bedding products typically have a very different reputation for their Sheets and Bedding items than that of their other products.
A catalogue that offers a fantastic grill may not offer the most superior bedding, which is most often the case. Do some quick research to see customer feedbacks, outside posts or links to sites that are often found in search engines. If a company is truly great in their specialization, you'll find reference to their products from outside sites, articles or publications and non-biased references.
Check whether the claims of a company actually make logical sense. Does the company have non-biased Press articles or rankings, and not simply paid ads?
You’ll see information for online sellers, keywords, ads and descriptions boasting the "best luxury sheets" or "highest thread count" with claims to being Bedding or "Luxury" Stores. Do a bit of quick research, and you’ll typically find zero reference to these 'companies.' Ask the company or seller where its products have been featured in non-advertisement, unpaid articles or features. Has it appeared in any magazines, newspapers, internet articles, etc. ?
Save yourself some serious time by weeding out the majority of false or inflated claims that simply waste time. We live in a world of "bests" and the truly best products are featured through non-biased journalism. If a retailer makes claims to offer the "finest" then ask the company where they’ve been featured, to provide you simple information to substantiate its claim. No related articles or features? Then you can come to your own logical conclusion as to whether the products are truly the 'best.' When a company is top in its industry, people want to hear about it, as do journalists. If the seller mentions features, ask whether they’re non-biased journalistic features or placed advertisements. There is a large difference. Any company can pay to advertise in nearly any publication, whereas actual articles and publications are entirely non-biased and the only true indicator in checking reputation.
What is the company's knowledge of its Bedding products, or does it really have any knowledge in this area at all? There’s just no way around this one. When you’re surrounded by a sea of "best," "softest" and "luxury," it pays to find out how much the company really knows about its products. Pose a few simple questions, and you can have a world of insight in just moments. To be frank, most companies don’t have the slightest idea what they’re talking about and you’ll often get the runaround. In fact, ask the right questions and you’ll probably get some long pauses, vagueness followed by silence, rounded out with a few "I’m not sures". This is your investment. Does the company provide a phone number? Don’t be afraid to call. No number, then why not? Are you not worth their time? Does the company provide knowledgeable Product Specialists? If no, then why not? If a company is truly an expert and top in its field, then why do they not have extensive knowledge about their products or are unable to provide this type of service?
If you have a contact phone number, use the Free Bedding Checklist found in our Guides section, to help you ask the most important questions and find out what a company really knows about its products. If the company is good, you’ll get responses to your questions and maybe more. Possibly even additional information you may not have thought to ask. You’ll also get thorough answers to your questions, not a runaround or vague responses. Don’t get the answers you asked, or need? Then maybe it isn’t the company or product for you. If a company doesn’t know its products then how is it so sure, and how can you be sure, its products are the "best" ?
Can the company provide you with concise, detailed and clear information about its Sheets, Duvet Sets and Bedding? It’s easy to provide one-lines sentences that tout an item as the best and you’ll find those statements everywhere. Obviously very few products do actually fall into the top tier of being "the best" and yet we’re surrounded by those statements. So which bedding products truly are the best? How do choose the best Sheets, Duvet Cover, Blanket or Bedding? And how do you weed out the remainder? It’s easy to make claims, especially when only a few sentences are provided about a product. If the company provides information, pay attention to its depth and detail. This generally give you a good idea as to how intimate a company is with its products. If the description is short or extremely lacking, there’s probably a reason.