Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tip 45: Cotton percale bedsheets

About a month ago I took a fitted bedsheet out of the dryer and noticed a devastating development: a hole! Frankly, this made me mad. These sheets were from our wedding registry, and they were not cheap and they came with a decent-enough thread count. Still, I put the sheet on the bed and watched the hole grow to the width of our bed, rendering it essentially useless. Then I decided it was time to invest in new sheets.

I did a lot of research, and here's what I found out:

Tip 45: If you're looking to purchase sheets that should last for years, plan to purchase cotton percale sheets. The thread count doesn't matter too much, provided the thread count is at least 300. Don't pay for unrealistically high thread counts, like those products that claim to have a count of 1200 or more.

So, that's the conclusion. Here's the beginning:

When I realized it was time to buy new sheets, a lightbulb went off: this is a time I can be green! I read about green products all the time, but when it comes to purchasing a green product I rarely have the opportunity because our house is equipped with just about everything we need, and I don't believe in purchasing new, green items to replace older-but-still-functioning items because, well, doesn't that defeat the whole point?

So I looked into bamboo sheets. I heard good things about them, and some friends who owned them gave them good reviews. And then I learned about this article from the Federal Trade Commission: Have You Been Bamboozled by Bamboo Fabrics? (and I appreciated the pun). Turns out most bamboo fabrics are just rayon, and are no more environmentally friendly than standard fabrics, and could potentially be even less so.

Bamboo was out.

Then I wanted to find out what could make my sheets last for so little time. About four years of use seems like a fairly short life for sheets. I still have this awesome standard-size sheet set from my childhood, and I want to say they even belonged to my brother before me, so these sheets have been in our family for at least 30 years.  I would have just used these sheets, but we have a queen-size bed now.

After some Googling, I found lots of people like me who were also flabbergasted that their sheets didn't last long, many claiming a lifespan of just two years. That actually made me feel more victorious. And, like me, they recalled stories of sheets their parents owned that lasted longer than most marriages.

This is where I found my answer: our parents' sheets were cotton percale. I do not know how our old sheets were woven, but I do know they were not percale. Apparently this type of weaving is the best for prolonging the life of sheets.

Ok, so cotton percale. Does organic cotton percale exist? Yes. I began my search.

Because I was already there, I looked in person at -- you guessed it -- Bed Bath and Beyond. They had organic sheets, and they had one set of percale sheets that were white, but they did not have organic cotton percale sheets.

Then I began the online search.

CB2 carries these organic cotton percale sheets for a reasonable price, but I was specifically looking for sage. They do sell ash grey, which I can respect, but it doesn't fit with the rest of our bedding.

Several other Web sites sells organic cotton percale sheets, but only in white/ivory/natural, which appears to be a trend in the organic cotton world (not too into dyes, apparently). I think I saw just about every site that sells organic cotton percale sheets.

Then I found this gem: Gaiam's organic cotton percale sheets in sage and on sale! But when I chose sage and queen, no dice. I checked back each day for nearly two weeks, hoping they would restock even in the midst of a sale, though I figured they would not.

Matt finally asked, "When are we getting new sheets?" He hit his breaking point.

So, I decided that this was no longer a time to try to be green. I want sage sheets. I want comfortable sheets. I want affordable sheets. And most importantly, I want sheets that I can still have when I'm 40, if not older. So I went for this: Noble Excellence 400 Thread Count 100% Egyptian Cotton Percale Queen sheets in sage, on sale online at Dillards for $50.99 plus a few dollars for shipping. Done.

They arrived last week, and so far they have been great. Like any sheets, they will get more comfortable over time, but I am happy with where they began. I will wash these babies only on the gentle cycle as the package recommends, and I will cross my fingers that they make it to my 40th birthday.

Next up...a look inside our master closet.


  1. I had those same cat sheets growing up! I loved them! I'm also pretty certain they are still in existence at my Mom's house!

  2. I had those same cat sheets TOO!

  3. Using organic cotton prevents insecticides and pesticides from being sprayed in the air which saves our atmosphere.
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