How to Shop for the Perfect Set of Sheets
How do we as humans judge value? Most of the time it’s through something’s proximity to us. We take the quality of our food seriously because it literally goes through our bodies. We buy scarves and mittens if we live in a particularly chilly climate. If we spend a third of our lives in bed, isn't it only natural to care about what we sleep on?
Shopping for bedding should be fun, but it’s also important to be informed. Is your sheet choice the best for your sleep? What about the environment? After all, consumers have a lot of options, and brands aren’t always forthcoming with information you should have before you purchase. Let’s explore our options below.
Before you buy
1. Avoid anything claiming to be wrinkle free
A good rule of thumb is to avoid sheets that claim to be wrinkle free. In order to actually achieve that, the sheets have to go through an intense chemical process that generally includes the use of formaldehyde, which is linked to a lot of health conditions like asthma and dermatitis. Despite the major health implications of formaldehyde exposure, the US doesn’t regulate formaldehyde levels in clothing, nor does any government agency require companies to disclose the use of the chemical on labels.
2. Thread count doesn’t really matter
Thread count doesn’t actually represent quality. Instead of zeroing in on that number, look at the bigger picture. A sheet’s fiber choice has a huge impact on it’s comfort. We’re obviously big fans of cotton, so we recommend looking for a sheet that has a cotton fiber. A sheet’s weave also directly affects the specific feel of the sheet. A sateen weave produces a silky finish that’s perfect for year-round comfort. Also try to find a sheet that uses single-ply yarn, rather than double or multiple. The finer the thread, the softer the sheet.
Like we mentioned above, sheet fibers have a dramatic impact on how your sheet actually feels. The farming practices also vary from fiber to fiber, so it’s important to be as informed as possible before making your purchase.
Regular Cotton Sheets
Regular cotton sheets are the standard sets you find in most retail stores. Consumers may turn to regular cotton sheets because they boast high thread counts or because they tend to be cheaper than the alternatives. But the seams and boasted comfort hide a pretty terrifying reality.
Conventional cotton farming is responsible for 22.5% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of all pesticides, on 2.5% of all agricultural land. To put that in context, of all insecticides used globally every year, the estimated amount used on cotton is 16-25% more than any other single crop. That cotton shirt you’re wearing? What if you discovered that the pound of cotton needed to make your shirt was sprayed with almost a third of a pound of chemical pesticides? Would you still wear it?
Now consider the amount of cotton needed to make a bed sheet. Would you still sleep on it knowing the amount of chemicals it has been treated with?
Egyptian Cotton Sheets
For a long time, Egyptian cotton was considered the gold standard of luxury linens. Is it worth the hype (and price tag)?
After a little research, I discovered that Egyptian cotton production has been declining for years. A direct result of the low production has been a rise in knock-offs and counterfeits. Target (the second largest discount retailer in the US), has canceled orders worth upwards of 90 million dollars from the brand Welspun; and other retailers like Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond are following suit. Why? Because more and more brands are undergoing DNA testing on their sheets and discover that the products claiming to be Egyptian Cotton actually aren't.
If you were to find a set of authentic Egyptian Cotton Sheets, it’s important to note that the cotton still uses the same farming practices of conventional cotton.
Bamboo has been on the rise for the past couple of years and is quickly gaining in popularity for it’s super smooth/ soft finish and relatively environmentally friendly production process.
Bamboo is the fastest growing crop in the world, and is actually easier to farm than cotton. It doesn’t require a lot of water, and is naturally resistant to a lot of bugs, so it doesn’t require as many chemicals to farm. Most bamboo fabrics are created by breaking down bamboo pulp through a chemical process to produce a rayon material. So while bamboo sheets may be a more environmentally friendly option than conventional cotton, organic cotton sheets are the best option.
Organic Cotton Sheets
Organic cotton sheets gives you the comfort of cotton that you know and love, with a little peace of mind. It’s harvested from organic land that’s grown through an organic and sustainable process. The sheets themselves are manufactured with no chemicals or bleaches or finishing applications, so you can truly rest easy knowing you made a smart, healthy purchase.
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