The 5 best bed sheets we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Good sheets help you sleep better. It’s important to buy a set that’s comfortable and long-lasting.
  • We tested 14 sheets and consulted three experts to find the best sheets for every need.
  • The L.L.Bean Percale Sheet Set is soft, breathable, and made from durable extra-long-staple cotton.

Even if you have the perfect mattress, it can be hard to fully enjoy your time in bed without a comfortable set of sheets.

Though bedding brands are often quick to show off high thread counts, they’re less important than you might think. The type of fiber and weave also help determine the sheet’s texture, breathability, and durability. Percale and sateen, for example, are both made of cotton but have different weave structures, resulting in different feels.

“When finding sheets that will last and provide comfort and a relaxing night’s sleep, take a look at the material first and thread count second,” said Ave Bradley, senior vice president of design and creative director at Kimpton Hotels. Kimpton uses 200-300 thread count cotton sheets from Frette in its rooms.

Dennis Chan, director of retail product at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, said his team looks at the fabric drape (the way the fabric hangs), hand feel, and construction of weave when sourcing bedding for hotels worldwide. Four Seasons produces its own line of bedding in its Four Seasons at Home collection, featuring 350-thread count sateen weave cotton sheets.

Top hotel brands like Four Seasons and Kimpton outfit their rooms in 100% long-staple cotton sheets because they’re soft, breathable, and durable, resulting in luxurious and memorable sleep experiences for their guests. Long-staple cotton has longer fibers, so it’s stronger and softer than shorter-staple cotton, which is why we also generally recommend 100% long-staple cotton in our best picks. However, we’ve also included options like flannel and linen, which hold heat differently and may be more appropriate for specific seasons or those who tend to sleep cold or hot.

To test the best sheets, we washed and dried each set according to its respective instructions at least five times, looked at how each set fit on a 10-inch-thick mattress, and slept on each set to note texture, overall comfort, breathability, and coolness. Read more about how we tested in our methodology and consult our FAQs section for more on thread count, materials and fiber types, and fabric care, including input from a textiles scientist.

Here are the best sheets for your bed in 2021

The best sheets overall

best sheets 2021 L.L. Bean pima cotton sheets

The L.L.Bean percale sheets feel amazing on your skin — simultaneously light, crisp, and soft — and prove that quality materials are more important than thread count.

Pros: High-quality construction, very soft and comfortable, fitted sheet is labeled, accessible price

Cons: Lack of prints and patterns, fitted sheet may be loose on thinner mattresses

Of all the percale cotton sheets I tested, L.L.Bean’s set stood out for its ultra softness and comfort. It’s our overall best pick because it boasts a bit of everything that most shoppers are looking for: lightweight, breathable, and cool fabric; crisp yet soft feel; and strong construction that can reliably stand up to multiple washes. 

The sheets are made from pima cotton, which is a high-quality, extra long-staple cotton. Karen Leonas, who holds a doctorate in textile chemistry and is a professor of textile sciences at the Wilson College of Textiles, NC State University told us extra long-staple cotton is even stronger and more resistant to abrasion than long-staple cotton. That’s likely why the L.L.Bean sheets are extra soft and durable, even though the 280-thread count is on the lower end of the spectrum. They also had a great feel even after many washes and experienced no loose threads or shrinkage in the last three months.

The fitted sheet fit generally well and never slipped off, but there was a little excess (it fits up to 15-inch mattresses) on my IKEA Haugesund mattress. I loved that the long and short sides were labeled, a thoughtful touch that always sped up the annoying task of putting on my sheets. (When you’re constantly trying and washing different sheets, you notice and appreciate these things.) 

The sheets are available in a handful of light colors and they have hemstitched detailing (decorative threading at the edges). If you prefer a simple look that fits into pretty much any room style, the L.L.Bean sheets won’t disappoint. If you like fun prints and patterns, try Brooklinen’s sheets. They came in a close second to L.L.Bean for comfort and durability and are also reasonably priced.  

There’s nothing gimmicky or “special” about these L.L.Bean sheets and that’s what makes them so great. They’re simply well-made, extremely comfortable, and dependable — the best you could want out of something you’re sleeping on every night. 

The best cooling sheets for summer

best sheets 2021 what else we recommend

The cool, airy, and beautiful linen sheets from Sijo will be your summer favorite, or if you regularly sleep hot, a durable yearlong standby.

Pros: Stays dry and cool, casually wrinkled style, flexible flat sheet option 

Cons: Doesn’t come in as many colors and sizes as competitors, may experience some shedding

Linen is a contentious textile. It wrinkles very easily, feels a bit rough, and is notoriously expensive. On the other hand, some prefer the casual, lived-in look, and it does get softer with time and use. Most importantly, because it’s made from hollow flax fibers, which absorb moisture and let air pass through, linen is breathable and stays dry even on the warmest, stuffiest nights. 

Sijo sheets are the best linen sheets I’ve tried because they strike the right balance of comfort, coolness, durability, and price. After a couple months of testing, they knock out our former best pick, MagicLinen, because of how downright soft and comfortable they are, even while having the signature grainy texture of linen. And, they get softer and better after multiple washes. If your preconception of linen is that it’s too scratchy to enjoy, Sijo’s sheets will change your mind. They’re also airy and light, keeping me cool on California spring-nights-that-already-feel-like-summer (we recently had temps in the high 80s in late March). 

I personally loved the wrinkled look, especially combined with the soothing Blush color. I’m also a fan of Sky, a dusky blue. The color and overall construction have held up well so far, and the fabric continues to feel both substantial and lightweight. You should expect some shedding in the first few washes — it’s a natural part of the process but a little annoying to pick off your bed.

Unlike with MagicLinen, I didn’t have any sizing issues with Sijo’s sheets. All the sets have a 15-inch depth. You can also opt in or out of a flat sheet, which provides great flexibility and can bring the price of your purchase down.

The best flannel sheets for winter

best sheets 2021 Pinzon flannel sheets

It’s hard to imagine snuggling in anything but Pinzon‘s thick flannel sheets on a cold winter night. They’ll keep you warm and cozy without causing you to overheat.

Pros: Plush and cozy feel, heavyweight, breathable, affordable 

Cons: Lots of dryer lint, only available in solid colors, may be too warm for hot sleepers

Imagine you’re nestled in a cabin in the woods, far, far away from the people and bustle of regular life. There’s a fire crackling nearby and you have a book in one hand and a mug of tea in the other. That’s what it feels like sleeping in these flannel sheets, even if the reality is that you’re laying your head to rest in a modern city high-rise. 

There’s no better fabric than flannel to bundle your body in during fall and winter (and even beyond, if you don’t sleep hot). Pinzon’s flannel is thick, soft, and cozy from the very first use and the comforting feeling only gets better over time. They’re velvety and a little fuzzy, but were never itchy and uncomfortable. Though the sheets are very warm, they never felt stifling or unbreathable, despite the fact that I sometimes sleep warm. However, if you regularly sleep hot, the flannel sheets may be too stifling.

These sheets make it dangerously tempting to take midday naps curled up like a cat or to sleep in every day as if it were a Sunday free of commitments and appointments. I consistently felt like I slept better and deeper because of how warm and comfortable these sheets are. Fortunately, there’s been no shrinkage or pilling to get in the way of that comfort.

Still, there are a few small inconveniences. Out of the package, they have a slight chemical odor, so you’ll need to wash them before the first use. Also, be prepared to empty out a thick layer of fuzz from your dryer lint trap every time you wash them. If you have thicker or high-loft pillows, the pillowcases may be a tight fit. I used them on my Casper and Leesa pillows (both moderately-sized pillows), and the pillowcases were a bit difficult to pull on.

The best hotel sheets

best sheets 2021 H by Frette hotel sheets

When you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars a night to sleep at a luxury hotel, H by Frette‘s smooth and luxurious sateen sheets will take you there instead.

Pros: Luxury hotel-approved, quality materials, washes well, brand has long manufacturing history

Cons: Only available in white

Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and Kimpton hotels worldwide turn to this iconic name for their bedding needs. We’re talking about none other than Italian luxury brand Frette, once the official maker of linens for the Italian royal family. 

Sleeping in Frette’s soft and smooth sateen sheets, you’ll certainly feel like royalty. H by Frette is Frette’s consumer line of linens and whisks you away into the sumptuous hotel bed of your dreams. But rather than paying for just a single night in a high-end hotel, you’re dropping $300 for years of hotel luxury in your own room. 

The sheets are, of course, only available in white, and you can get them in sateen or percale depending on your preference. The resulting bed looks simple, clean, and fresh, and while housekeeping staff isn’t included with your purchase, you’ll probably feel motivated anyway to maintain the signature hotel style yourself because of how sleek and composed the all-white look is.

Frette uses 100% extra long-staple cotton, so even though the set doesn’t have the extraordinarily high thread count (300) you might expect from hotel sheets, it feels very soft. Extra long-staple cotton is also very durable — important for hotels where housekeeping teams are washing each room’s sheets constantly, and important for you as a consumer if you want to be sure your investment goes a long way. 

Sateen sheets can be too warm for me sometimes, but Frette’s felt perfect and cooler than other sateen sets I’ve tried. The sheets have a subtle gloss and a silky feel and they remain comfortable after every wash. 

You’ll find less expensive and equally comfortable sheets in the rest of this guide, but if you specifically want the sheets used in and approved by hundreds of hotels, then you’ll be very happy with Frette’s. Whenever I rotate through my sheets, I look forward to this set because I know it’ll feel like a treat.

Pro tip: “When recreating this [hotel] experience at home, think about using high lofting pillows, quality sheets and a plush duvet with a duvet cover for the ultimate luxury experience,” says Chan. 

The best sheets on a budget

best sheets 2021 Threshold budget sheets

Threshold‘s sheets are popular among Target shoppers because they’re comfortable, thoughtfully designed, and best of all, affordable.

Pros: Affordable, great fit 

Cons: May trap body oils more, smell terrible out of the package

It’s the price tag that’ll catch your eye first, then the great fit and soft feel that’ll sell you completely on these budget-friendly sheets from Target brand Threshold. Of all the sets I tested, Threshold’s fitted sheet was the easiest to put on and fit my mattress the best, despite being designed for mattresses up to 18-inch deep. The extra stretch in the corners of the sheet made a big difference and helped the sheet cling to my mattress without showing excess material on top. It also has a top and bottom label to speed up the fitting process. 

Once on, the sateen sheets are smooth and silky. They’re made from 100% cotton and have a 400-thread count, which is on the higher end of all the sets I tried. I noticed after some use, however, that they seem to trap body oils more readily and feel greasier than other sets, making them less pleasant to sleep on. I wondered if this was because Target uses a short-staple cotton, or if they applied some kind of treatment over the sheets to give them their “performance” qualities (wrinkle-resistant, bleach friendly), but the brand didn’t respond to my requests for additional clarification. The problem does seem to go away if I wash the sheets more often.

Either way, I had a comfortable experience overall; they just weren’t the best of all the sheets I tried. And though they’re touted as “performance sheets,” most notably as being wrinkle-free, they certainly wrinkle. The best way you can get rid of the wrinkles, as with all cotton sheets, is to iron them. 

Be warned — the sheets have a strong sour and chemical smell when you first take them out of their packaging. The smell lingers even after the sheets are aired out for a couple of days, so you’ll definitely want to wash them first.

If you’re on a budget, a college student, or a frequent host looking to outfit a guest bed, these sheets are a smart decision. We’re continuing to test and wash them to look for any durability issues, but so far we haven’t run into any. 

What else we tested

magiclinen slide

What else we recommend and why 

Brooklinen: As I mentioned earlier, it was a tight race between Brooklinen and L.L.Bean. We still highly recommend Brooklinen because the brand offers incredible value for long-lasting, comfortable, and beautiful sheets. But the set we tested (Brooklinen’s most popular) may be too warm for some people because of the sateen weave, which is why we ultimately picked L.L.Bean’s cooler percale. Read our full review of Brooklinen sheets here.

Boll & Branch: Boll & Branch uses cotton that’s both GOTS- and Fair Trade-certified, so if you live an organic lifestyle, or are trying to incorporate more organic products into your cart, you’ll love these ethically and sustainably made sheets. The sheets are comfortable and durable but keep in mind that the manufacturing process and certifications do come at a cost. Read our full review of Boll & Branch sheets here.

MagicLinen: MagicLinen recently lost its spot as our top linen pick because it wasn’t as comfortable or affordable as Sijo. There are a few reasons you might still want to buy MagicLinen, though: it comes in a lot more colors and sizes, including twin and deep-depth. If you’re willing to pay a bit more to find a specific style and fit, MagicLinen’s a good place to shop durable and airy linen sheets. Read our full review of MagicLinen sheets here

Riley: Riley’s percale sheets are softer than other percale sheets, but not more so than L.L.Bean’s. They felt cool and held up to all our washes well. I also appreciated the fair price point, and the flexibility of opting for the add-on flat sheet, instead of being stuck with one you don’t want. 

What we do not recommend and why 

Crane & Canopy: We liked the comfortable feel and embroidery of these extra-long staple, 400-thread count cotton sheets. Like L.L.Bean and Brooklinen, they’re made from high-quality cotton and have a mid-tier thread count — but they’re a lot more expensive. Since there are no other distinct features to set Crane & Canopy apart, we prefer L.L.Bean and Brooklinen for their better value.

Serena & Lily: The home brand has many pretty and composed sheet options, like this Classic Ring Sheet Set, which has a percale weave and a 310-thread count. The feel is indeed crisp and cool, but it’s a bit pricey for what you get and our other sheet picks offer better value. We also noticed after the first wash that there were already some loose threads on the pillowcases. 

Italic: Long-staple cotton percale sheets made by the same manufacturer of Frette, Four Seasons, and St. Regis sheets for $75? The Slumber Cotton set is definitely enticing for this reason, and it’s comfortable to sleep in. However, Italic has a $100/year membership model, so buying this set only makes sense if you plan on purchasing other goods from the site. We recommend first browsing the rest of the online shop to see if you’re interested in the other home products, clothing, and accessories. Otherwise, you’ll be paying $175, which isn’t any more competitive than our picks above. 

Ettitude: Ettitude’s claim to fame is using bamboo lyocell for its sheets. They’re made from 100% organic bamboo with a water-efficient manufacturing process and the result is uniquely soft, silky, and cool. However, we noticed they’re more delicate than other fabrics and the sheets showed more pilling and abrasion after we washed them.

Bespoke PostA defining characteristic of percale is that it’s crisp and airy, like your favorite button-down shirt. The problem I experienced with Bespoke Post’s new percale sheets are that they’re too crisp and can rustle loudly if you move in your sleep (which is probably most of us). It also held onto and showed body oils easily, and you’d need to wash the set frequently. 

Our testing methodology

best sheets 2021 testing methodology

Here’s how we tested the sheets over a period of five months. Knowing that this is a fairly short amount of time, we’ll continue to follow these steps in the upcoming months and note any changes.

  1. Washed and dried each set according to its respective instructions at least five times. Usually, we washed the sheets in a cold cycle with gentle detergent and dried them on a low tumble cycle. 
  2. Put the fitted sheet on a 10-inch-thick mattress and noted slipping, sliding, post-wash shrinkage, and stretchiness of elastic. 
  3. Slept on each set for at least one week and noted texture, overall comfort, breathability, and coolness.

What we’re testing next

best sheets 2021 what we look forward to testing

BrooklinenBrooklinen’s sateen sheets usually get all the love, but we’re also interested in its other fabrics. Each set of its cozy made-in-Portugal linen sheets is individually garment-dyed, so you’ll feel like you have a unique piece of bedding. 

West Elm: West Elm’s Fair Trade-certified linen sheets are popular among linen lovers. They come in around the same price as MagicLinen’s and are also available in many beautiful colors, so we’ll mainly be comparing their comfort and durability. 

Kassatex: These long-staple cotton, 300-thread count sateen sheets seem promising, especially considering a Queen set is only $100. We look forward to putting these inexpensive sheets through all our tests to see how they stand up over time and how they compare to our current picks. 

ParachuteParachute’s name often comes up along with fellow direct-to-consumer darlings Brooklinen and Boll & Branch, all of which launched around the same time. We’re testing its sateen sheets and loving their smooth, soft feel so far. We need to sleep in them and wash them more to determine long-term durability. 

FAQs

Sheets FAQ best sheets 2021

Does thread count matter?

Yes, to a certain extent. However, don’t use it as your sole determining factor because its definition can be manipulated, and after a certain number, the difference in feel and durability is negligible. 

Thread count is the number of yarns per inch, horizontally and vertically. Leonas tells us that a ply yarn (two single yarns twisted together) has traditionally been considered one yarn, but in recent years, some brands have been using total ply yarn count as the thread count, resulting in an artificially high number. 

Remember that thread count only applies to cotton sheets and single yarn weaves. All of our best cotton sheets fall in the 300-500 range, and you likely won’t need anything beyond that.

What are the different types of sheets?

The quality and type of material do matter. Below, we define, compare, and contrast different materials, fabrics, and terms you’ll often run into while shopping for sheets. 

Drape: The fluidity or rigidity of a fabric. A fabric with high or fluid drape, such as silk, is flowy and clings more to the object. A fabric with low drape is stiffer and holds its shape more. 

Long-staple cotton: Cotton with longer-staple fibers that result in smoother and stronger yarn. This is compared to short-staple cotton, which has fiber ends that stick out and cause the sheets to be rougher and less abrasion-resistant. Brands will generally call out when they use long-staple cotton; otherwise, you can probably assume it’s short-staple. Leonas says the industry definition of long-staple cotton is a fiber length of 1.15-1.22 inches.

Egyptian cotton: Cotton grown in Egypt. It’s often assumed that Egyptian cotton is long-staple, but it could also be lower-quality, short-staple cotton that just happens to be from Egypt, so be careful of this labeling, and look specifically for “long-staple cotton.” 

Pima cotton: Also known by its trademark name, Supima cotton. Extra long-staple cotton that is grown only in the US and has a fiber length of at least 1.5 inches. Extra long-staple cotton is even smoother, more flexible, and more resistant to pilling than long-staple cotton.

Percale: A type of cotton weave where one thread is woven another thread into a tight, grid pattern. It has a matte, crisp feel. It’s airy and more breathable. 

Sateen: A type of cotton weave where three or four threads are woven over one thread into a looser grid pattern. It has a smooth, silky feel and a slight sheen to it. Compared to percale, it’s less breathable and may not be suitable for sleepers who run hot. According to Leonas, sateen has a tendency to snag more easily and also show dirt more readily, due to its unique “float” weave. If you enjoy the feel and look of sateen, keep in mind that sheets made using this weave require a little more care and maintenance. 

Polyester: A type of synthetic fiber that may be blended with cotton or used to make microfiber. It’s less breathable and traps moisture more easily, and it may not be suitable for people with sensitive skin. 

Microfiber: A type of synthetic material made with very fine polyester fibers. It’s very soft and drapeable, but doesn’t breathe well. 

Lyocell: Also known as tencel. A type of fiber made from wood (often eucalyptus) pulp. It’s soft, silky, and breathable. 

Linen: A type of fiber made from flax plants. It’s slightly rigid, with a rougher texture, and it feels cool and breathable. It wrinkles easily. 

Flannel: A type of fabric made with thickly woven wool or cotton. It’s brushed to give it a slight soft and fuzzy texture, and it feels warm.

What are the different sheet certifications?

You may notice that some of our best picks have a Standard 100 by Oeko Tex certification. This label means the final sheet product has been independently tested for more than 100 harmful chemical substances and is safe for human use. While it’s not the only certification out there, it’s widely used and known in the textiles industry. Our experts say you should look for the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification for basic safety, but if you also care about manufacturing, look for STeP by Oeko Tex. It checks for environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and safe practices all along the production process.

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is another certification, used specifically for organic textiles. GOTS-certified sheets contain at least 95% certified organic fibers and meet environmental and social standards at every stage of processing and manufacturing.

What’s the best way to care for your sheets?

According to various bedding brands, you should wash your sheets every 1-2 weeks, and alternate sets to preserve their quality. We recommend following the specific care instructions that come with the sheet set you buy. Based on our experience, brands generally advise washing the sheets in a cold or warm cycle with gentle detergent, then drying in a low tumble cycle. Hot water can make colors bleed, cause shrinkage, and weaken fibers. Drying at a high heat can also weaken fibers and cause pilling.

What’s the best way to prevent wrinkles?

For all its great properties, cotton naturally wrinkles, and that’s thanks to its molecular structure. Leonas explained to us that wrinkles basically happen when hydrogen bonds form as your sheets bump around in the dryer. “The only way to get rid of those bonds is to flip some water on it, or apply high heat. That’s why we use a lot of steam when we press things,” she says. 

If you want to get rid of wrinkles, the best way is to iron them before fitting them onto your bed, or removing them from your dryer a little before the cycle ends and fitting them onto your bed while slightly damp.

Are alternative fibers any good? 

Alternative fibers like bamboo lyocell or microfiber are appealing because they’re often very comfortable and affordable. In our testing experience, however, their durability doesn’t match up to that of cotton or linen. They’re more prone to pilling, abrasion, and shrinkage. Plus, the production and care of these alternative fibers can be murky and bad for the environment. The shedding of microfiber, for example, is polluting the ocean

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