What is Bedding?
Bedding refers to everything that can be removed and washed from your sleeping space, typically your bed. This includes every type of bed sheet, pillows and cases, skirts, quilts, a comforter to mention a few.
Quality bedding is important considering we spend roughly 33% of our time sleeping. Beyond this, it also provides warmth and comfort, which results in quality sleep. So what constitutes right bedding? Well, a lot of it has to do with personal preferences. However, a lot of it also has to do with practical factors ranging from materials to types of weaves and maintenance.
Types of Bedding
Go to any department store and the bedding section tends to be huge. The reason is that there are loads of different types of beddings. Add to that the materials, textures, prints and well you get the picture. Some of these items have practical use while others are there solely for decorative purposes.
This piece wraps the mattress and protects it from spills, dust mites, bed bugs etc. It also keeps the mattress free from body sweat and soil.
Bottom (Fitted) sheet
This sheet is placed over the mattress and may have the elastic edge (hence fitted) to grab the mattress tightly. It is called bottom because you lie directly on top of this sheet, thus it is a mandatory piece of bedding.
Flat (Top) sheet
this is more common in North America, where 3 out of 5 Americans find it to be an essential piece of bedding. It separates you from the blanket, quilt or comforter.
An all-embracing shield covering the whole bed and extending to the floor. Its purpose extends from offering an elegant look to protecting the functional bedding from dust and other elements.
Something like a bedspread, without the extension to the floor or pillows. Typically it is quilted or woven and is intended to cover a thicker bedspread providing an additional ornament.
Most typically a blanket is used as covering during colder weather. It can be made of wool, cotton, microfiber plush, polyester or some combination of these. While some individuals may prefer to use blankets independently, others prefer to couple them with duvets or comforters.
A thick, fluffy piece that may be filled with synthetic fibres, silk, feathers or wool. It is an all-in-one piece with decorative fabric that is quilted. The quilting keeps the filling in place. Changing the look will require replacement or removal of the comforter. It also needs more washing as there is no protective layer with it.
This is more of a European version of a comforter with different types of fillings. Duvets tend to be less “finished” than comforters because they are supposed to be encased in “duvet covers”. The duvet covers are easily removed for washing. They also make it easier to mix and match with different types of bedding.
Something of a traditional bed cover that is made with three layers. The top layer, the decorative one, is made by artistically stitching together different pieces of fabric. This style of stitching is an ancient art form called quilting. The middle layer is known as batting. It can be a filling of down feathers, wool, or cotton. The bottom layer or backing is a solid piece of fabric.
An ornamental piece of fabric is placed above the box spring and under the mattress. It is a stylish way to hide the box spring, the area underneath, the mattress frame legs, and what otherwise can be unappealing. It also prevents dust from getting under the bed.
These come in many different sizes and shapes, each designed for a different purpose.
A continental pillow is square-shaped, usually placed against the headboard to further dress up the bed. Its function is to provide support while sitting up to watch TV or read.
A sleeping pillow is rectangular shaped and supports the head while sleeping.
A bolster pillow is long and shaped like a cylinder. It offers support for the lower back and spine area. Alternatively, you can simply hug it while sleeping. It can be used as décor, in combination with other pillows available.
What is thread count?
Many features go into making quality bedding. It is no longer just about the count. Not only do you need to understand the material used but the different weaves as well.
Thread count matters, but not always. Thread count tells you how many horizontal and vertical threads are woven into one square inch of the fabric. Time was when high count meant softer bed linen. Unfortunately, it is now possible to manipulate the fibres to increase the thread count. The highest thread count for luxury bedding is 1500, but practically this is next to impossible to achieve. The act of fitting 750 horizontal and 750 vertical threads in an inch is not possible for a loom.
In today’s world, the highest thread does not automatically translate to luxurious bedding. Some of the best bedding today actually comes with thread counts of around 500 and sometimes even less.
According to some studies, bamboo sheets with a thread count of 320 proved to be softer and silkier than cotton sheets with a count of 1000.
The best quality bed sheets and linens boast tighter weaves. Unfortunately, the more tightly woven materials tend to be harder to maintain. If low maintenance is a priority, then bedding with medium weave tightness is a better option.
What is the best bedding material?
The types of materials used in making bedding have changed over the years. The varieties of old materials have increased, and many new materials have been introduced. The terminology used in naming them has become very confusing. At times it refers to the weaving style, other times the way material has been treated.
Cotton is an all-time favourite for bedding material. This is understandable as cotton is soft, easy to maintain, normally cost-effective and breathable.
Egyptian cotton is known for its exceptionally long fibres. These allow the creation of the smoothest fabric and topnotch bedding.
Pima cotton has a natural sheen and softness. The fibres are somewhat medium to extra-long and excellent for bed sheets.
Combed cotton is the name given to bedding fabricated out of cotton fabric. The fabric is treated to remove the short fibres in processing, which leaves a velvety smooth fabric.
Percale is a plain cotton fabric that is woven closely. Its thread count is 180 or more and gives a very cool texture.
Cotton jersey fabric is knitted and not woven. It gives a very soft feel similar to that of a T-shirt, and yes it is essentially the same material.
Flannel is cotton fabric with combed fibres to fluff them. The nap catches body heat to give that snuggly warmth. Flannel quality is not measured in thread counts but rather ounces per square yard.
Linen is fabricated from the stems of the flax plant. Many products are made out of this material including sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases. The material is hypoallergenic, moisture-wicking and breathable. The more it is used, the softer it becomes. It is a natural fibre that is as easy to care for as cotton. It does tend to become wrinkled.
Tencel is the name of the brand of fabric created out of the wood pulp of the eucalyptus tree. It is soft and very resilient with natural antimicrobial properties. It is considered environmentally friendly as production uses less water, chemicals and energy than cotton. However, it is not as breathable as cotton, so it can feel a bit muggy.
Silk is another, very soft, natural fibre produced by silkworms. Real silk bed sheets are soft, cool and offer the ultimate luxury. The fabric is naturally hypoallergenic. Being a delicate fabric, it too requires gentle handling and comes with a hefty price tag.
Polyester is the same material that plastic soda bottles are made from. On its own, it is rather stiff, that’s why it is usually combined with another thread, typically cotton. Bedsheets of polyester are rather cheap and easy to care for.
Bamboo fibres too can be a kind of fabric. However, it tends to be stiff and rough. It is common to find rayon sheets with a “bamboo” label. These are made from bamboo pulp that is treated with chemicals, with potentially negative environmental effects. The pulp dissolves and is then allowed to re-solidify and convert into thread. While this process produces a durable, soft, silky material, it is not exactly environment friendly as claimed by some manufacturers.
Will bed sheets shrink after wash?
It depends on what material. The absorbent material will shrink, such as 100%cotton, linen, bamboo fibre, Tencel. However, those non-absorbent materials don’t shrink, such as polyester.
How to prevent cotton sheets from shrinkage?
The manufacture will pre-shrink before making cotton beddings, however, this precaution will only reduce the degree of shrinkage. We should take some measures to reduce shrinking effectively.
- Check the label before washing any material.
- Never wash your bed sheet in hot water.
- No excessive sun exposure. Bed sheets can be dried in the sun, but not excessively. Too strong sunlight exposure will cause fading and shrinkage.
- Don’t soak for too long.
- Use some fabric softener when washing cotton bed sheets.
- For luxury cotton sheets, hand wash or gentle-wash in the washing machine.
- Air dry is the best, if go in the dryer, use the low heat setting for a short time.
How long should I wash and replace the bedding?
A typical human sweats as much as 26 gallons in a year. A lot of this ends up in our bedding. In fact, a study told that there are up to 47 fungi species on used bedsheets. Apparently, this fact indicates that bedding can be dirtier than a chimpanzee!
Before use, you should wash the bedding to remove any residue for treatments, stiffening agents and dirt.
After this, bedsheets should be laundered at least twice every month. Fresh bedding is best for promoting quality sleep.
The exception is that pillowcases should be washed at least once or twice every week because they gather dirt, sweat, and oil from our heads. That buildup will cause a health problem. However, frequent washing can quickly thin the pillowcases. This makes us buy more pillowcases than bed sheets.
It is best to replace bed sets every two years. The frequent washings create thin spots leaving the sheets uncomfortable to sleep on.
How to prevent bed sheets from slipping off?
- Use a fitted bed sheet with deep pockets
- Use four three-clip bed sheet holders. The elastic band with three clips is versatile for any mattress thickness and width. It’s easy to install and can keep the bedsheet tight on the bed without breaking the sheet.
- Bedsheet snap fastener
How to store beddings? Can I store my comforter in vacuum bags?
1. Wash your bed sheets, bed covers with some fabric softener, and air dry all seasonal beddings on a sunny day, then let them cool down before storing them in bags or containers.
2. Yes. All beddings can be stored in vacuum bags, but don’t compress the bag too tight. Otherwise, they can’t restore their fluff and warmth anymore. Especially, for cotton, down, and silk comforters, do leave some air. Feather and silk beddings should be stored in breathable cloth bags. The same goes for the down jackets.
3. Roll the comforters and store them in cloth bags, transparent polyester bags, or old T-shirts.
4. Fold bed sheets and covers in the same size, store them vertically in the drawers or containers at the bottom of your wardrobe.
What to do with the old bedsheets?
1. Cover your unused stuff
2. DIY Sofa pad
3. Cleaning cloth
4. Turn durable bedsheets into bags or containers for shopping or kids’ toy
5. DIY braided rugs
6. DIY pyjamas
7. Bedsheet hammock
8. DIY curtain for windows or bed
9. Beach mat, clinic mat, painting mat
10. DIY pet’s toy
11. DIY chair pad
12. DIY Cotton bedsheets to cloth diaper
13. DIY dog clothes and cushions
14. DIY throw pillow covers
15. DIY apron
16. Cover your garden plants from coldness and insect
17. Donate to animal shelters
18. Fabric recycling box
19. Sheet camp
20. Sheet yoga mat