What Makes Bed Sheets Silky Smooth?


Sleeping on silky smooth bed sheets is one of the best ways to get a good night's sleep. Many people assume that higher thread counts mean softer sheets. While this is one factor, it is not the most important. Knowing the best types of weave, cotton and fibers for silky smooth sheets will help you select the most luxurious sheets for your bed.


  • Good cotton sateen woven fabric has a very soft silky smooth feel and the characteristic lustrous sheen. The weave is created with four stitches over and one stitch under. With most of the smooth threads on the surface, these sheets are extremely soft, though they can snag easily and are not as durable as sheets made with a standard one over and one under weave.

Cotton Quality

  • The quality of the cotton used influences in how soft and smooth the fabric is. The highest quality cotton is combed, meaning it has been cleaned of any impurities and the shorter, rougher fibers have been removed. Only the finest, longest fibers remain, giving it a silky feel. One hundred-percent cotton sheets will have a softer feel over polyester or cotton-polyester blends, though they will wrinkle more easily. To minimize wrinkles, remove the sheets from the dryer promptly once dry, or wrinkles will set in.

Fiber Length

  • Select sheets that are made of long fibers for a silky smooth feel. The fiber ends are what provide the rough texture, so when the fibers are longer there are fewer ends, resulting in soft sheets. Sheets labeled as Egyptian cotton, pima cotton or supima cotton all have the luxurious feeling long fibers creating each thread; of these, Egyptian cotton is made of the longest fibers.

Thread Count

  • The thread count is an important factor in determining not only softness but also strength of bed sheets. Thread count is calculated by counting the number of threads in 1 square inch of fabric. Since the sateen weave can snag easily, increasing the thread count provides a denser weave, minimizing the chances of snags occurring. A sheet with a thread count of 400 or more is typically high quality, and when combined with a sateen weave, long fibers and 100-percent combed cotton, the result is a very soft, smooth and durable sheet.


  • Even some of the highest quality sheets are finished with different chemicals and mechanical processes to minimize wrinkles and shrinkage, and help the fabric keep its shape and retain dyes. These methods are beneficial, though they can give sheets a rough feel. After a few washes in warm water and low-heat drying, many of the chemicals are released and the sheets will feel softer as a result.

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