Is thread count really the most important thing to consider when buying sheets? If not, what is?
Thread count simply indicates the number of threads sewn per square inch of fabric. Thread count can be deceptive -- some manufactures may twist the yarn and count a two-ply yarn as just one to manipulate the number. When looking for a quality set of sheets, it is important to remember that thread count is not the be-all and end-all of sheets. It is the quality of yarn, the construction, and the finishing of the yarn that truly creates a wonderful sheet set. Anyone can make a 600-thread-count sheet, but it may not be made correctly.
If you don't have time to iron your sheets, what kind of weave or fabric will look great right out of the dryer?
Any fabric can wrinkle, and no sheet is perfect, but if you don't want to waste your time ironing, the rules for care are simple: Wash your sheets in cool water by themselves and dry them on the lowest setting. Drying sheets on a warm setting can damage the integrity of the fabric. I always pull my sheets out when they are almost done drying (just a touch of dampness) and put them right onto the bed. Follow these steps, and ironing won't be necessary.
Every shopper has different needs. What would you recommend for someone who wants low-maintenance sheets, someone who prefers soft sheets, and someone who wants a set that will stand the test of time?
Wood fiber sheets encompass all of the above. They are low-maintenance, extremely soft, and will last a long time if you follow the simple care instructions. I prefer Legna's Italian wood fiber sheets. I think they are by far the softest sheets on the market, and they become softer after every wash.
We know that there are plenty of organic options on the market. What should we look for?
Many companies are just now starting to produce organic products. To be truly organic, the bedding should be made using dyes found in nature, so the color palette is very limited. Bamboo sheets -- made from the fibers of bamboo strips -- can be quite soft.
Are mattress and pillow protectors necessary? What should you look for when buying them?
They are especially helpful for those with allergies but will also keep your pillows and mattress from absorbing sweat, which will prolong their lifespan. They are made from cotton, silk synthetic material, or even wool, which provides warmth in winter or cold climates.
How often should pillows and duvets be replaced?
Replacing your linens all depends on how often they are used and how you care for them. When cared for properly, they should last for a long time. For down-filled pillows and duvets, a good fluff every day will prolong their life, and you always want to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions.
What kind of pillow should you look for if you sleep on your back? On your side? On your stomach?
Firm pillows are great if you sleep on your side. Medium pillows are fine if you sleep on your back, and if you sleep on your stomach, choose a soft pillow. If you tend to wake up with a stiff neck, your pillow may be too soft -- adding a second firmer one can help.
What advantages will natural fiber fills (such as duck and goose feather and down, wool, silk, and cotton) offer over synthetic fills? What advantages do synthetic fills offer?
Natural fills are soft, light, and comfortable. They are more breathable materials and will absorb moisture and then release it when “fluffed.” They also have a longer lifespan than synthetic fills and can last more than 10 years if cared for properly.
Synthetic fills are easy to care for. They can be machine washed and tumble dried, are ideal for children, and are great options for allergy sufferers.
What kind of fill options are best for allergy sufferers?
Synthetic fills are not the only options for those with allergies, though their ability to stand up to frequent laundering does make them a good option. Wool and silk should be considered for their natural resistance to dust mites, and remember that animal allergies do not necessarily include pure goose down. That said, a high-quality down duvet that is covered in a tight weave is more resistant to dust mites than any cover of a lower quality.