Tips and Guides

Bed Linen 101

Make sure that the bed linen you use is the right and comfortable kind with these tips


Just how many sets of beddings do you need? Three sets of sheets are all you need per bed; one would be on the bed, one in the wash, and one in storage. Change your sheets at least once a week, more if the weather is warmer.

Get started on your quest for the perfect bed linen with this handy guide.

Styling by Arlene Sanchez-Maslog. Photographed by Jun Pinzon.

Read the original article ("Between the Sheets") in the May 2009 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App ( now! Log on to for more details.  

What are the sheets that you'd usually find in your basic bed linen set?

Fitted Sheet: A sheet with elastic edges tailored to fit a particular mattress without slipping off. This serves as the bottom-most sheet.

Flat Sheet: A rectangular sheet of cloth placed over the fitted sheet; also called the top sheet.

Comforter: A fiber-filled quilted bed covering that goes over the top of a mattress but does not cover pillows or hang all the way to the floor.

Duvet or Comforter Cover: A large, protective, and decorative casing for a comforter, usually with ties, snaps, or buttons to close it. It protects your comforter from dirt, and saves you trips to the Laundromat.

What is a weave?

One of the things that give your sheet’s softer hand is its weave, and it does make a difference on the look and feel of your sheets. Here are the common weaves found in sheets:

Percale: This has at least 180-thread count, and has shorter, rougher fibers that are combed out to make a fine-quality cotton. Percale is smooth, crisp, and cool to the touch.

Sateen: This has a more glamorous feel, and has a thread count of 300 or more. The surface has a slight sheen, and a softer hand than percale.

Jacquard: This has a matte and sateen variegated pattern on the surface, and patterns can be of stripes, florals, or checks. The fabric is softer like sateen, but less crisp than percale.

Flannel: The fabric is brushed over after weaving, giving it a soft, fluffy texture. This makes flannel a warm, lightweight fabric for cold climates.

Oxford: A fabric made from yarns that have been doubled and woven into a basket weave. The higher-quality version of this is used for making men’s shirts.

Does thread count, count?

The thread count you read on the side of the packaging refers to the number of threads per square inch in both directions in the weave of your bed linen. A high thread count (300 and up) has a finer, smoother surface, but it does not mean that your sheet is more durable—in fact, the individual threads are thinner, and may not wear as well. A thread count of at least 250 already promises good wear and a soft feel.

Extra Tip:

A little spritz of linen spray can infuse your bed linen with a summery, soothing scent. But nix the expensive store-bought sprays and make one for yourself—it also makes a lovely gift for friends, too.

Create your own Lavender and Sandalwood Linen Spray:

What you'll need:

- 2 tbsp 100 proof vodka

- 1 tsp lavender oil

- 1/2 tsp sandalwood

- Distilled water

- 1 32oz bottle with sprayer


1. Mix the vodka and scented oils in a bottle.

2. Add distilled water until just full, screw on cap, and shake to combine.

3. Shake lightly before each use.


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