The Bedsheet Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need To Know To Care For Your Bed

Whether you make your bed every morning or tend to leave your sheets in a pile on the floor, you can't deny that it's one of the most important spaces in your home. After all, you should be spending about eight hours a day on that mattress, making it second only to your desk as a primary place to pass time. (We apologize if that fact is depressing, but it's true.)
How you feel about your bed probably has a lot to do with what's happening on top of it. Sure, a comfy mattress is crucial and a headboard can really tie the room together, but it's a cozy comforter, soft sheets, and a silk pillowcase that make going to bed at a reasonable hour feel less chore-like.
Something that's undeniably chore-like, though? Caring for your little nest. Those sheets must be washed, those pillowcases must be... also washed, except even more often, and we've found there are a lot of mixed messages out there about how to do these things. Ain't adulting grand?
In the spirit of putting to bed questions about caring for your bed, we asked bedding experts for their thoughts on everything from eye masks to thread counts. Read on to learn what Lu Xiong and Tianjiao Saikhantal Yu of Flaneur and Joe Alexander of Nest Bedding have to say. We apologize in advance if it screws up your laundry schedule.

How often should you wash your sheets?

Bad news, slackers: All of our experts recommend a weekly wash. "Change your sheets every weekend," suggests Alexander. "Dead skin cells and body oils accumulate quickly and can attract dust mites to accumulate." Cute!

Okay, but what’s the longest you can push it without being super gross?

We have to ask, because we all know that some weeks, a sheet washing is just not going to be the top priority. "This depends on a variety of factors unique to your body, metabolism, and sleep rituals (for example, whether you sleep in the nude or wear pajamas). If you tend to get hot and sweat a lot overnight, you definitely want to wash your sheets at least biweekly. If you use body lotion everyday, maybe you’ll want to wash biweekly for that reason, too. But we would suggest washing sheets at the very least once a month," say Xiong and Yu.

How often should you wash your pillowcases?

Sorry, kids. The resounding answer is weekly, especially if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin.

What about those little eye masks, how often do they need to be washed?

"Monthly, as long as you’re not wearing it with makeup still on," says Alexander. But Xiong and Yu make a solid point: "Why not just wash them together with your sheets, either weekly or biweekly?"

Any hot tips for how to put sheets on beds?

"Grab the corner seam in your hand like a hand puppet and use it to grab the top corner of the mattress, use it to lift the corner of the mattress and tuck the bottom under the corner of the mattress for a tight, square fit," suggest Xiong and Yu.

How about duvet covers?

"As for your duvet cover, you should always make sure it comes with interior ties or straps on all four corners. This may seem like a minor detail, but interior ties or straps will help your duvet stay put inside your duvet cover. You don’t want to find yourself wrestling in the middle of the night with a giant balled up duvet on your body while your feet are completely exposed to the cold," say Xiong and Yu.
Also: "Our last tip is for sleepers who use both a flat sheet and duvet cover. Lay them down and flat on the bed together. Make sure the top ends align with each other. Then fold them back together. Voilà! You now have a grown-up bed."

What does thread count mean? Does it really matter?

We're taught to covet high thread count sheets, but before you blow your paycheck on 1,000-thread sheets, listen up. "Thread count is commonly exploited for marketing," says Alexander.
"The 'thread count' myth is probably one of the most successfully marketed concepts," agree Xiong and Yu. "'Thread count' does refer to a real thing — it’s the number of threads woven in one square inch of fabric. However, the idea that a higher thread count always results in a more luxurious and comfortable bed sheet could not be more misleading."
Still not getting it? Here's the rub, say Xiong and Yu: "Yarn is woven into a thread. Sometimes, in order to claim that a sheet is 800 thread count or 1000 thread count, businesses will instead count the number of yarns woven into a thread, so even when there is really just one thread, they tell consumers there are three, because three yarns were woven into one thread.
So when there are really only 200 threads in the warp direction of the fabric, they may claim that there are 600 threads. If this same trick is applied to the weft direction of the fabric, a 400 thread count sheet suddenly becomes 1200 thread count in marketing lingo. However, when three yarns are woven into one thread, the thread will loosen more easily, resulting in problems like fabric pilling or change in shape. This is why sometimes, a supposedly 1200 thread count sheet feels more like sandpaper than a 350 thread count sheet."

So what's a good tread count to aim for then?

"280-300 thread count is more than sufficient and breathable while still being durable," suggests Alexander.
"Without the help of an expert looking through a microscope to examine the cotton staples, hand feeling is probably the best way to judge — 300–500 thread counts with a nice hand feeling and a natural sheen are probably the best choice you can make in the bedding market," say Xiong and Yu.

Should we all be sleeping on silk pillowcases?

It seems like every beauty guru worth their YouTube channel is recommending silk pillowcases these days. "Silk, tencel and bamboo are all good for helping reduce face wrinkles for side sleepers," agrees Alexander.
"We love silk pillowcases, especially those made from very refined and natural silk," say Xiong and Yu. "The only drawback is that they’re a little harder to wash and maintain than cotton. You will definitely want to avoid any stains or scratches, and silk is dangerously tempting to bugs." Basically, if your silk pillowcase gets slathered in night cream, time to toss it in the wash. But hey, since we're all doing weekly sheet washes anyway now, it should be a no-brainer... right?

Do you really need a mattress protector?

"They’re great for keeping 'stuff' off the bed and out of the bed," Alexander cryptically shares. "Foams, which are in all beds to some degree, do not perform well over time when moisture is present, so covers will keep it out. Also, most companies, for this reason, will void their warranty if the surface of the mattress is stained. The protector keeps it clean."

Is it weird not to use a top sheet and just use a duvet or blanket?

Thankfully, this most millennial of habits has the bedding expert seal of approval. Phew. But, Alexander cautions: "While not weird, it’s better for cleanliness and breathability."

Are there any good products out there that will help cool you down while you sleep?

"Nothing works better than airflow and moisture wicking, which you find with natural fibers and products. Try to avoid microfiber sheets or down and down alternative comforters. Wool, cotton, bamboo and tencel are all better materials to help sleep cool. A good cooling protector is also a good base to start with as well like the Nest Bedding COOL. Mattress Protector, which is both breathable and waterproof while utilizing current cooling technology used by NASA," says Alexander.

Anything else we need to know to be good bedding owners?

"A good bedding owner sees their bedroom as a personal sanctuary, a place to unwind and stay true to themselves. A good bedding owner should be able to enjoy a diversity of colors and textures based on different moods and occasions, just like how we curate our wardrobes," share Xiong and Yu.
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