Choosing Sheets

Help me choose bed linen - sheets, pillowslips, and top sheets.

What material, threadcount, blend, and style do I need for my sheets, pillowslips, topsheets?

Cotton? PolyCotton? CottonRich? Sateen stripe?

Our bed linen comes in 2 fabric types:

-50/50 polycotton, or
-80/20 polycotton.

80/20 is not recommended when doing your own laundry as the higher cotton count means a lot of ironing.

Instead we recommend a 50/50 blend:

-Standard PC 180tc
-SuperCale 250tc
-Douceur 28ml stripe 312tc.

We recommend SuperCale for any motel, hotel, and B&B's doing their own laundry.
This is because cotton/polyester fabrics are highly presentable straight from the tumble dryer, and the higher grade SuperCale is the best in this regard. It has less fabric memory so creases less, and is a nice thick, crisp sheet.

How much polyester?
Polyester makes the sheet stronger and it needs less ironing but it does not absorb moisture so you would not want a sheet with too much polyester in it. 50% is max.

Cotton is softer and more absorbent than polyester, but it wrinkles, creases, and is weaker.

In hospitals more cotton is needed as people stay in bed for longer, in warm surroundings and they might be sick! Hence the CottonRich 80/20 that leaves some polyester in for strength but adds more cotton. It is also used by many hospitality laundries as it bulks up and feels good even at a standard 180tc.

Shrinking? Generally cotton will shrink more BUT if subject to undue heat polyester will shrink very badly. Think of it as plastic - it will shrivel if overheated. So if treated well there is little difference. On testing the natural shrinkage of our sheets is around 3%. Up to 5% is okay, 7% is too high. When ironed in a commercial laundry it will be very different.

Thread counts

All commercial linen providers use roughly similar thread counts and we measure it in a 10cm box NOT a square inch.
A 312tc is considered by experts as the highest real thread count for a polycotton sheet. Higher will mean the weave is too tight and it will not breathe well. Pure cotton can be a bit higher as it naturally absorbs moisture better but is not a commercial product.

Very high thread counts sold in retail outlets are usually achieved by running two threads together in each direction to double the count (250 become 500). This makes it thick but not smooth or strong. Again not commercial product.

We use:

- 180 as our standard fare in polycotton and CottonRich.
- 250 for the better SuperCale
- 312 for the best 28ml sateen striped Douceur.

Do you mind having to iron the Bed Linen?
If you don't want to iron the answer is simple, you need a better SuperCale 50/50 Polyester / Cotton blend.

We recommend SuperCale for all motels and B&B's doing their own laundry.

This is highly presentable straight from the tumble dryer. It has less fabric memory and creases less.

It is possible to not iron SuperCale sheets and pillow slips at all! Here's how: Wash, dry, and immediately press well before any use. This will seal the fabrics memory. Then always remove from the wash immediately and under load dryer so they never get squashed. Remove from dryer and fold immediately when still just damp a weeeee bit.

Do you need to go 5 star?
Then you need 50/ 50 polycotton 312tc Douceur.

At the highest thread count practical, and with the luxurious 28ml sateen stripe, it is thick, soft and looks special.

It's also surprisingly easy to process though the finish will pick up contaminants in the wash easily, and is more prone to pilling if conditions allow. That is down to the sateen finished surface.

How do I avoid pilling?
Best answer is to hire from a good laundry and let them worry. But that is not what you are asking.

There are 2 things that happen both of which get called pilling. Real pilling is when balls of the material's fibre form on the surface, generally still attached into the weave. This is usually due to abrasion wear - some kind of rubbing against the surface, and made worse by too high temperatures. Sateen finishes will pill easier and will be the first to show problems in a laundry. Home users will find it really hard to avoid some pilling with our Douceur sheets - best to be honest.

But most commonly when I see samples of 'pilling' it is actually contaminants in the wash that have stuck onto the surface like Velcro. If it is not all white and pulls off easily - it is contaminates. Causes are similar in that if the surface is roughed up it will act like Velcro. But is also associated with detergents, dirty wash, etc.

The finishing applied to sheeting to prevent pilling seals the top surface but there is a compromise here. If we go too high the sheet will feel too shiny and smooth and lose its absorbency and softness. But if we leave it really soft it will pill like cotton balls on Velcro.
So we finish to a commercial standard that works for a professional laundry.

That means always washing separately, in a clean machine. No tissues or cotton can be allowed in that wash! It also means NOT having high alkalinity - something that is very hard to control yourself. Best you can do is use only top notch detergents (high alkalinity helps detergents work better so a washing powder could raise alkalinity to work better).

It means ironing with a very clean iron at no more than 180.

The feel test
Drop us a line and maybe I can send you a pillow slip or two to test - BUT always wash once first to bring out the finish.

Commercial linen has manufacturing oils and protectorates in and must be washed first.