Organic cotton duvet covers and sheets

by EmpressFelicity

A guide to buying cotton sheets and duvet covers, and the benefits of buying organic

If you grew up in the 1970s like I did, you might remember a strange development that occurred in bed linen around that time: nylon sheets. They might have won points when it came to washability and convenience, but boy were they uncomfortable; if you moved too quickly/suddenly, you ran the risk of getting friction burns on any exposed bits of skin - it's therefore not surprising that some people described them as "passion killers"! Although some aspects of Seventies design are enjoying a revival, the nylon sheet is thankfully not one of them. The choice for most people these days is a poly-cotton blend, but if you want real comfort and luxury then the type of sheets to go for are pure cotton. Cotton is breathable and comfortable - it's cool in summer and warm in winter. And if you are at all environmentally conscious, then organic cotton bed linen is definitely the way to go.

Why organic cotton?

Cotton crops occupy about 2.5% of all the farmland in the world, and yet cotton accounts for 10% of all chemical pesticide consumption and 22% of insecticides! Not only does this have a detrimental effect on local wildlife, but it also has a major adverse effect on the health of cotton farmers, not to mention their income; in some parts of India for example, cotton farmers have to spend up to 60% of their production budget on agricultural chemicals of one kind or another. Organic cotton does not use any pesticides other than natural ones made from things like chilli and soap. The use of natural fertilisers also helps to cut down on watering (cotton is normally a very thirsty crop).

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Available on Amazon

Magnolia Organics Dream Collection Organic Cotton Sheet Set (Sage, Queen)

The Dream Collection's exceptional dobby fabric designs bring a distinctive accent to your bedroom. The pallet includes beautiful colors that will seem like they were mixed ...

Only $170.00
American Baby Company Organic Cotton Interlock Crib Sheet, Natural

ABC Organic Cotton Knitted Crib SheetMade with organically-grown, pesticide-free cotton, this Organic Cotton Fitted Crib Sheet in natural will fit a 28" x 52" standard size ...

Only $14.64
Magnolia Organics 550 Thread Count Organic Cotton Sheet Set (Queen, White)

The highest quality organic cotton sheets made today are the Magnolia Organics Estate Collection. These 550 thread count sateen sheets truly join the ultimate in luxury with ...

Only $194.97

Some general things to consider when buying cotton sheets and duvet covers

1. The size of your bed. OK so I know that's really obvious, but I thought I'd mention it anyway! Just to confuse the issue, standard bed sizes vary from country to country.

2. The type of weave. Do you want a matte finish, or are you after something more like satin? Types of weave used in bed linen include percale (a closely-woven, high quality plain weave), flannel (another plain weave, but this time with a slightly fluffy finish - great for winter!), jersey, or sateen. As you'd imagine from the name, sateen is smooth and slightly shiny - the closest you're going to get to satin sheets if you're buying cotton ones!

3. Thread count. This is the total number of threads (vertical and horizontal) in one square inch of the fabric. Thread count can be anything from 80 to 1,000 - in general, the higher the thread count, the higher the quality of the fabric but there are other things that also affect quality such as:

  • Yarn size, i.e. thickness. The finer the yarn, the higher the size (confusingly). Obviously if you've got a high size yarn, you can get a higher thread count.
  • Ply, i.e. number of individual fibres in a strand of yarn.  The ply of the yarn is used in the calculation of thread count, so a "600 thread count fabric" could mean a "600 thread count fabric made with single-ply yarn", a "300 thread count fabric made with 2 ply yarn" or even "a low thread count fabric with lots of yarn threads (picks) inserted into the weave so as to bump up the thread count".
  • The fibre length ("staple") of the yarn itself. The longer the better when it comes to quality - examples of long staple yarns include Pima cotton and certain types of Egyptian cotton.
  • How the yarn has been finished/treated. Some yarns are treated with chemicals (e.g. softeners/resins), while some are just washed, dried and given mechanical treatments such as sanforisation.

So you can see from the above that thread count isn't the be-all and end-all of bed linen quality, despite what some people say.  There is plenty of choice out there in any case, so it's up to you!

© Empress Felicity August 2010

More organic cotton sheets on Amazon

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Updated: 11/27/2011, EmpressFelicity
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