Bed sheet buying rules – 5 things you need to know before the Presidents' Day sales

These bed sheet buying rules are vital, as the year's biggest bedding sale is around the corner

An example of bed sheet buying rules, blue bed sheets in the Matouk Spring 2024 Collection.
(Image credit: Matouk)

The right set of bed sheets can improve your sleep and instantly elevate your bedroom decor. The best bedding should look good, wash well, and lie beautifully on your bed. While quality bedding won't come cheap, you could bag bed sheets at a bargain price in the Presidents' Day sales.

If you know where to look, you can find a set of bed sheets in every imaginable size and shade, made from all sorts of materials. There are cooling cotton percale sheets for warmer weather, silky cotton sateen sheets for sensitive sleepers, and bamboo bed sheets for eco-conscious shoppers. There's also linen, hemp, eucalyptus: the list goes on. With so much on the market, it's easy to feel spoiled for choice. 

I'm a sleep writer, and I've sampled some of the world's best bed sheets from specialist sleep stores and luxury design houses. I know what I'm looking for in a sheet set: a snug fit, quality materials, and top-notch eco-credentials. I want to share my golden rules for sheet shopping to help you find the set that meets your sleep needs.

5 rules for buying bed sheets

Although the big day isn't until next week, Presidents' Day bedding deals are already dropping. I've seen premium sheet sets selling for a fraction of their RRP. As a shopping writer, I appreciate a good bargain, but I'd never sacrifice quality for cost. Don't be duped by a deal: follow my golden rules for buying bed sheets to avoid buyer's remorse.

1. Bed sheet size matters

It might sound obvious, but it bears repeating: you should only shop for bed sheets that would fit your current mattress. There's no point snapping up a deal on twin-sized bedding if you sleep in a California King. 

But it's not just to do with the usual size labels. Depth is also extremely important. We've all been there: you've triple-checked the care tag, you're certain that you've bought the right size, but your sheets still aren't staying on the bed.  The problem might have something to do with the pockets. In my time as a sleep editor, I've come across sheets that are too big, too small, too thick, too thin to stay on the bed. One of my best tips is to measure the depth of your mattress, as some are much taller than others. 

If you've been burned before, and you're keen to buy sheets that stay on the bed no matter what, you should try to find a fitted sheet with enhanced elastic for a secure fit. Thicker mattresses require stronger fitted sheets with deeper pockets. 

Type 'sheets that stay on the bed' into your search engine, and you're unlikely to yield many results. That's why I've rounded up a few of my favorite fitted sheets at the fairest prices you'll find online. I've called in each of these sheet tests for review, and I'm already impressed with their snug, secure fit. 

2. Material differences

If you've ever tried to shop for sheets, whether in store or online, you might have come across a wide range of bed sheet types without really understanding what you're looking at. Luckily, I'm here to break down the bedding buzzwords. 

Cotton is one of the most common materials for bed sheets. You can weave cotton in a few different ways. Cotton percale is crisp and cool, with plenty of interlacings to boost breathability. I'd recommend cotton percale for hot sleepers and warmer climates. Then, there's smooth cotton sateen. Tightly woven for warmth, these sheets are ideal for cool sleepers and colder weather. Because of its silky soft surface, I'd recommend cotton sateen for sleepers with sensitive skin. 

Cotton might be the most popular material for bed sheets, but there's something out there for every sleeper. Linen sheets are ultra durable to withstand the wear and tear of nightly use and regular washing, though breathable bamboo might be better for eco-conscious shoppers. Organic materials, such as eucalyptus or hemp, are naturally moisture-wicking and antimicrobial to bust the bacteria that breeds in warm, damp environments, such as bedrooms.

Word to the wise: avoid polyester. It traps heat, feels cheap, and pills at the drop of a hat. It's also terrible for the environment, as it's made from non-renewable resources and its production emits all sorts of greenhouse gases. Polyester would be, by far, the worst bed sheet material to choose

3. Pick your palette

White sheets are a classic for a reason. A set of the best white bed sheets would complement any bedroom color palette, though they'll quickly show any stains or smudges.

If you're shopping for brightly colored bed sheets, you'll find a lot to like at Bed Threads. There, you can build your own bedding bundle, mixing and matching between earth tones, cool colors, and bold dues to create bespoke bed sheets. 

Perhaps you'd prefer to play with pattern. Subtle stripes and gingham prints abound at Piglet in Bed. Their bright bed linen would really pop against plain white walls, though it could easily integrate with colorful bedroom decor. For bolder, botanical prints, try Matouk. These stylish sheets won't come cheap, but they would make a serious statement in a master bedroom.

4. Set your budget

As a sleep editor and a shopping writer, I'm often asked how much to spend on bed sheets. It's a difficult question to answer: no two people have the same financial situation, nor the same sleep needs. You might be prepared to spend big money on bed sheets, while your partner can't see the point.

Personally, I'd never spend less than $50 on bedding. That's the lowest amount you could pay to get durable sheets to withstand nightly wear and tear. At the other end of the spectrum, I couldn't afford to drop $1,000 on a set of sheets. You could easily spend that kind of money at luxury design houses. I usually shop at specialist sleep stores, instead, to ensure I'm paying for premium products, not a brand name.

If you're tight on time and money, you could narrow your search to the best affordable bed sheets. These sheets might not look or feel quite as premium, but they should regulate your temperature and fit your mattress, which are, really, the most important aspects.

Federal holidays tend to bring deep discounts on bedding. As we approach Presidents' Day, I'm starting to see bed sheet deals dropping. If you shop smart, you could save hundreds of dollars on quality bedding.

5. Shop sustainably

If you're paying big money for bed sheets, you want to find something that will last: a set of sheets that's soft on your skin, kind to your wallet, and good for the planet. In other words, you want to shop sustainably. 

I tend to recommend that eco-conscious shoppers opt for bamboo bedding. After all, it's the fastest-growing plant on the planet, so there's no danger of depleting natural resources. If you don't like the slippery softness of bamboo lyocell, you might prefer something stronger, such as organic hemp or eucalyptus. 

Sustainable shopping is more than a matter of materials. You might prefer to shop at a store that outlines its manufacturing process for maximum transparency. When you shop at Woolroom, for example, you can identify the exact sheep whose wool was shorn to make your bedding. It's always nice to know where your stuff comes from and should help you to shop more consciously. 

Final thoughts

There's so much bargain bedding to buy in the Presidents' Day sales. If you want to avoid buyer's remorse, I'd urge you to slow down while you shop and stop to think about what you really want and need from a piece. Follow my six rules for buying a mattress topper to make sure you're happy with your purchase. 

Emilia Hitching
Sleep Editor

Emilia is our resident sleep writer. She spends her days tracking down the lowest prices on the best bedding and spends her nights testing it out from the comfort of her own home – it's a dream job. Her quest to learn how to sleep better has taken her all around the world, from mattress factories in Arizona to sleep retreats in Scandinavia. Before she joined Homes & Gardens, Emilia studied English at the University of Oxford. She also worked on the other side of the aisle, writing press releases for regional newspapers and crafting copy for Sky.