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How do I choose good bed linen?

There’s a lot that I did not know about bed linen. And there’s a lot to know apparently.

So, to go along with my post about the best brands for ethical bed linen, here are a few interesting facts that I discovered, to help you choose your bedding.

Start with the fabric

This is the easy part. I recommend choosing either organic cotton, hemp or linen. These are the three best fabrics for bed linen that will be long-lasting, comfortable to use, and ethical. There are bamboo options, but as yet, despite some environmental benefits as a crop, the manufacturing process still leaves a lot be desired. Cotton is the most common and most practical, just make sure to look for 100% organic and fair trade certification. Hemp is a good environmentally friendly option, but can be rougher, and linen is lovely and light but wrinkles easily so go for this if you like the ‘crushed’ look.

Thread count is not what you think!

Did you know that high thread count is a total misconception? I didn’t. What even is thread count?!

Thread count indicates the number of threads woven together vertically and horizontally to create the fabric. So a thread count of 250 means that there are 125 vertical and 125 horizontal threads woven together.

A thread count of 750, however, does NOT mean that there are three times as many threads, usually it means that low quality thread has been twisted together, called triple-ply, and which the manufacturer misleadingly sells as triple the thread count. This also means that higher thread count actually creates denser, heavier fabric which prevents air flow. Good quality bed linen uses single-ply, good quality thread with a thread count between 180 and 300.

Wait…what do you mean ‘the weave’??

A normal weave will be perfectly comfortable with a matte finish. If you would prefer a softer, slightly shinier finish then look for a sateen weave. Most patterns and colours are applied after the fabric is woven, so ask about the dyes used if  you are concerned about chemicals or skin sensitivity. Some jacquard weaves use different coloured threads to create the pattern, so it’s woven into the fabric, these can be longer lasting than dyed fabrics, but again, check the dyes used if you’re worried.

Check the measurements, no really…

Most mattress US and UK mattress sizes are the same but there can be a few centimetres difference for other countries, so it’s worth checking the exact measurements of your mattress and then comparing them to the measurements provided by the brand that you want to buy from. Remember that some bedding sets can include square pillows rather than rectangular or Oxford style pillowcases (with a fabric border) rather than housewife.

The little details

If you’re really detail oriented then you might also want to read the small print on what type of closure the duvet cover has. Apparently there are at least six different types of duvet closure, from poppers, buttons, and zips through to envelope, bag and tack, all open closures of differing kinds (You can read about the different closures here!)…who knew!

Tender loving care

To keep your bedding soft and airy for as long as possible, most companies suggest washing it at 40 degrees and air drying it. You can tumble dry bed linen but this will age it, use more electricity and cost you more money! It’s also best to change and wash your bed linen once a week to avoid build up of sweat and dirt. Check out this post for our top five environmentally friendly home cleaning brands- all of them have great washing powder/laundry detergent options.

For a great guide to different types of bedding, this article on The Spruce.

Photo by Jay Mantri/Pexels

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