Why the L.L. Bean Pima Cotton Set are the Best Sheets

For a soft, breathable feel.

L.L. Bean Pima Cotton sheets
Photo: Michael Hession

We have washed, dried, stretched, rubbed, and slept in dozens of sheets in many fabrics in pursuit of the best, and we think most people will be happy with the L.L.Bean 280-Thread-Count Pima Cotton Percale Sheet Set. And if you prefer smooth sateen, plush flannel, or airy linen, we have other recommendations to help you get a great night’s sleep.

The research

Best for most people: Breathable, soft cotton in percale or sateen

Best cotton sheets

L.L. Bean sheets wrinkled
The L.L.Bean sheets wrinkle a little more than our sateen picks but no more than any of the other top-ranking percale sets that we tried.
Photo: Michael Hession

Why we like them: Everyone should own at least a couple of sets of soft, breathable cotton sheets, and L.L.Bean’s 280-Thread-Count Pima Cotton Percale Sheets and JCPenney’s sateen Royal Velvet 400 TC WrinkleGuard Sheet Set have been our favorites for four years running (read more in our guide to the best cotton sheets). They feel nicer than sets twice the price and wear exceptionally well. L.L.Bean’s percale set feels cool and crisp, reminiscent of boutique hotel bedding, making it ideal for warmer temperatures. The Royal Velvet sateen set has a silkier, heavier texture that makes it a little warmer; the sheets are nearly wrinkle-free and also come in a California king. We think that both sets make a solid base layer for dressing your bed year-round.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: Some people find L.L.Bean’s percale set rough. But all percale feels a little textured; if you prefer supersmooth fabric, get a sateen set. The only (minor) complaint we have about JCPenney’s Royal Velvet sheets is that we noticed some mild static cling when folding them.

Available sizes: L.L.Bean percale set comes in twin, full, queen, and king. Royal Velvet sateen comes in full, queen, king, and California king.

BUY: L.L.Bean 280-Thread-Count Pima Cotton Percale Sheet Set
$110, L.L. Bean

BUY: Royal Velvet 400 TC Wrinkle Guard Sheet Set
$60, JC Penney

Budget sheets for kids or for guest rooms

Best sheets for under $50

Threshold Performance sheet set
The Threshold Performance set has a nice three-layered edging detail on the hem of the pillowcases and the flat sheet.
Photo: Michael Hession

Why we like them: Many of the cheaper sets we tested for our cotton sheets guide felt scratchy or cheap, but not the Threshold Performance 400 Thread Count Sheet Set. The Threshold Performance sheets aren’t quite as nice as our favorite percale and sateen sets, but in our tests they performed better than sets four times the price. Because they’re made of sateen, the fabric is very smooth with a nice drape. We particularly recommend them for cool temperatures, or if you’re partial to very soft fabrics.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: Pet hair, lint, and other fibers tend to stick to the fabric, but the sheets clean up nicely.

Available sizes: twin, full, queen, king

BUY: Threshold Performance 400 Thread Count Sheet Set
$45, Target

For a cozy winter bed

Best flannel sheets

L.L.Bean Ultrasoft flannel sheets
The L.L.Bean Ultrasoft flannel sheets have a soft, plush texture, but they don’t cling to the skin like some other flannel sheets.
Photo: Michael Hession

Why we like them: If you prefer the feel of flannel, we don’t think you can beat the performance and price of L.L.Bean’s Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Sheet Set. Of the 10 sets we tried for our guide to the best flannel sheets, the L.L.Bean set ranked among the plushest while never feeling clingy. These sheets are expensive, but that’s because they’re made of high-quality long-staple cotton, which means they should last you many years if you care for them properly. Some Wirecutter staffers have used these sheets for years and rave about them.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: In our tests, these sheets shed more lint than other sets. We suspect that they will become less plush over time, but that probably won’t happen until after many years of use.

Available sizes: twin, full, queen, king

BUY: L.L.Bean’s Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Sheet Set
$90, L.L. Bean

For summer, or people who sleep hot year-round

Best linen sheets

Cultiver linen sheets
Linen sheets will always look more rumpled than cotton options.
Photo: Rozette Rago

Why we like them: We didn’t find a perfect set of linen sheets (many suffer durability issues), but for their softness and wide range of colors and prints, we recommend Cultiver Linen Sheets. As we cover in our guide to the best linen sheets, this fabric tends to be slightly scratchy, but the Cultiver set was softer than others we tried. This set also receives fewer owner reviews complaining about the sheets wearing thin. If you’d like to feel the fabric before you purchase, you can order swatches in any color.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: Like any linen sheets, these wrinkle very easily (although not worse than other sets we tried). If you hate the look of wrinkled or crumpled bedding, you may not like these. Cultiver’s sizing is more limited than other brands’. Also, Cultiver doesn’t offer a warranty, and its return policyis pretty standard: the company will accept only unused, unwashed, and unmarked sheets within 30 days of you receiving them.

Available sizes: queen and king sets; twin, queen, king, and California king fitted sheets; one-size queen/king flat sheet

BUY: Cultiver Linen Sheets
$365, Cultiver

If you have a California king bed

Best California king sheets

Royal Velvet sheets
The embroidered-hem finish on the Royal Velvet sheets is nearly identical to that on the more expensive Cuddledown sheets. The detail adds to the luxurious feel of these sheets.
Photo: Michael Hession

We’ve found only two California king sets we highly recommend: our favorite sateen set, the Royal Velvet 400 TC WrinkleGuard Sheet Set, and our favorite budget linen sets, the Pottery Barn Belgian Linen Sheets and West Elm Belgian Flax Linen Sheets. At 72 by 84 inches, a California king is slightly narrower and longer than a standard king (which measures 76 by 80 inches). We’ve found that some standard king sheets will fit a California king, but most won’t. If you fall in love with a sheet set that doesn’t come in a California king size, check the dimensions of the king sheets before you buy.

BUY: Royal Velvet 400 TC Wrinkle Guard Sheet Set
$60, JC Penney

BUY: Pottery Barn Belgian Linen Sheets
$250, Amazon

BUY: West Elm Belgian Flax Linen Sheets
$45, West Elm

For dorm beds

Best twin XL sheets

Heartland HomeGrown sheets
The Heartland HomeGrown sheets feel as soft and smooth as sets that cost three times the price.
Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Why we like them:If you’re looking for twin XL sheets for a dorm room, the Bed Bath & Beyond Heartland HomeGrown 400-Thread-Count Solid Sateen Sheet Set is good enough (and cheap enough) for a few semesters. In fact, we found the Heartland sheets to be as soft as sets we’ve tried that cost three times the price. Because they’re made of 100 percent cotton, they’ll breathe better than the cotton-polyester sheets commonly found in college linen packages. The Heartland set comes in some nice solid colors, but if you want more fun, quirkier options, we feature a number of printed sets in our full guide to the best twin XL sheets for your dorm room.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: They wrinkle a little more than other sets we’ve tried, and we think that their solid-color options are a bit muted.

Available sizes: twin, twin XL, full, full XL, queen, king, California king

BUY: Bed Bath & Beyond Heartland HomeGrown 400-Thread-Count Solid Sateen Sheet Set
$40, Bed Bath & Beyond

Don’t get alternative fibers

Bamboo and microfiber sheets

We’re commonly asked about sheets made from bamboo (viscose rayon), microfiber, and other alternative fibers. After spending 13 hours researching the many different types of alternative sheeting fabrics, we think that most people are better off sticking with cotton or linen. Bamboo viscose can feel very soft against the skin, but it’s produced with a solvent that can cause air and water pollution (and cause serious health problems for factory workers). Microfiber sheets tend to be pretty affordable, but washing that fabric contributes to polluting lakes and oceans with synthetic threads. Lyocell, another type of rayon often branded as Tencel, seems promising because it’s less environmentally impactful, but sheets made from that fiber tend to be more expensive than cotton. In the end, all of our experts recommended sheets made from cotton or linen anyway, so we’ve decided to pass on testing these other sheeting fabrics.

What about organic?

Organic cotton sheets

If you’re committed to organic growing practices, seeking out organic cotton sheets can be worthwhile. Keep in mind, though, that organic cotton won’t necessarily make a better sheet (we explain more about this topic in our sheets buying guide). We’ve tested some organic cotton sheets, but none of them beat our favorite sets.

We do, however, recommend a couple of sets that are Oeko-Tex certified, which means they should be free of potentially harmful substances such as heavy metals, formaldehyde, and plasticizers. The Snowe Percale Sheet Set and the Cuddledown 400 Thread Count Cotton Sateen Bedding, which we recommend in our cotton sheet guide, both hold that certification. These sets might be a better choice for people with extremely sensitive skin.

BUY: Snowe Percale Sheet Set
$188, Snowe

BUY: Cuddledown 400 Thread Count Cotton Sateen Bedding
$167, Cuddledown

Read the original article on The Best Sheets.