What Are Combed Cotton Sheets?

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Combed cotton sheets are luxuriously soft.
Combed cotton sheets are luxuriously soft. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Purchasing bed sheets can be a confusing proposition because they come in so many different fabrics and types. You need to understand terminology to know what you're buying, what makes combed cotton sheets so luxurious and why they're more expensive than regular cotton sheets. Add in all the thread count choices and the confusion is compounded. With a little knowledge, you can learn what these terms mean in order to know what you're buying while getting your money's worth.

Manufacturing Cotton

Cultivating and harvesting cotton are the first of five stages in cotton manufacturing. Carding occurs during the preparatory stage, opening, cleaning and separating the fibers, leaving them parallel and ready for the spinning, weaving and finishing processes. Know that staple refers to the length of the cotton fiber; the longer the fiber, like Pima cotton, the higher the quality. Combing cotton is an additional preparatory process that uses fine brushes to remove impurities, discard shorter fibers and straighten the longer remaining fibers. Spinning combed cotton creates a yarn that is compact, fine and strong, which creates fabric that's soft and durable.

Combed cotton is one of the many varieties of cotton
Combed cotton is one of the many varieties of cotton (Image: Hulton Collection/Valueline/Getty Images)

Woven or Knit Cotton Combed Sheets

Combed cotton can then be either woven or knit into fabric. Read the package label to make sure the sheets are made of combed cotton. Choose several varieties, including knit sheets. Unzip the packages and feel the hand of the fabric, how it feels when touched. Decide whether you prefer the crispness of the woven, which wrinkles easily, or the stretch and give of the knit, which is resistant to wrinkling and easier to fit on a mattress.

Your bed will become your favorite place.
Your bed will become your favorite place. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Other Factors

A sheet with a high thread count refers to how many threads are contained within one square inch of fabric and does not reflect upon the fabric's quality. Purchase sheets with a high thread count when you want a dense, heavy sheet. Look for American-made sheets that cost less than imported due to import duties and other fees passed along to consumers.

Sheets dried on the line smell so good.
Sheets dried on the line smell so good. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Take Care of Your Investment

Choose sheets that require the kind of care that fits your lifestyle. Follow the care instructions to protect your investment and provide the longest life possible. Washing your sheets once a week will keep them looking and feeling luxurious. Avoid washing your sheets in hot water as this will shrink the combed cotton fibers. Avoid drying your sheets on a high dryer setting as this will shrink the fibers and may damage the fibers, adversely affecting the hand.

Washing your sheets once a week can actually increase their lifetime.
Washing your sheets once a week can actually increase their lifetime. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

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