By: Alison White

Practical and pretty sheets on your bed can refresh a room with comfort and beauty.

High-quality bed sheets can last up to 15 years. When you buy bed sheets, whether you need king size sheets, queen size sheets, or twin sheets, you need to look at thread count and fabric as they determine the quality of a sheet.

They were traditionally white, but now often various colours and patterns are used. They are larger than the bed, so they can be tucked under the mattress in order to be kept in place. The quality of bed sheets is often conveyed by the thread count - the number of threads per square inch of material.

Sheets with high thread counts in the 300-and-above range have a durable, lustrous, and soft fabric that gets softer over time and are considered luxury quality. Sheets with lower thread count sheets in the 80- to 120-thread count range have a rougher feel.

Thread count also determines whether a sheet is muslin or percale. Sheets with a thread count of 140 to 180 are muslin; everything higher is percale. In many areas of the world a second flat bed sheet is laid on top of the sheet covering the mattress. This is known as a "top sheet."

Also style is equally important as material quality in selecting the proper sheets for your bedding needs. Crisp, white sheets never go out of style and are always a good selection whether as part of a set or purchased singly to mix and match. Sheets in colours, prints, plaids, and patterns are easy to find in all sizes and price ranges. Each fabric commonly used to make sheets has its own merits.

For comfort and durability, you should choose cotton. One-hundred-percent cotton is a natural and breathable fabric. The most commonly used for cotton sheets are flannel, muslin, oxford, percale, and sateen weaves.

Flannel sheets are warm and may be blended with either a synthetic fabric or cotton. They are typically used in cold climates or in winter because the napped finish provides warmth.

Muslin sheets, commonly used in children's character-themed bedding, have a rough and tough feel and are at the low end of the cotton spectrum.
Oxford is a soft but heavy sheet.

Percale sheets offer a smooth, flat, and closely-woven fabric, finer than muslin.
Egyptian cotton sheets are highly durable, lustrous, and silky Egyptian cotton sheets usually have a thread count above 200. The most desired of all bedding fabrics, Egyptian cotton is made of extra-long fiber staples grown along the Nile River. Standard sizes are twin, full, Queen, King, California King.

Wash bedding in warm water using a gentle laundering agent with a final cold rinse. Remove washed bedding promptly from the machine to reduce wrinkling and also shake bedding out before machine drying.

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