Friday, 27 January 2012

bedroom antics - the joys of Egyptian Cotton

It's that time of year when all you really want to do is hibernate. When it's cold, wet and grey outside, bed becomes a sanctuary and at the end of a long day there's nothing like climbing into crisp white sheets. Once you've slept in good quality Egyptian cotton sheets, you'll never want to sleep in anything else again. I don't mind admitting that I'm a total princess when it comes to bedding, and my Cologne & Cotton sheets are one of my favourite posessions. They are really quite affordable and a great investment as they wear so well when correctly washed and stored. Even the sound of them as you pull the duvet over yourself is a delight. They bring a whole new level of comfort to weekend lie ins, and if you're unfortunate enough to be ill, it makes lying there waiting for recovery that much more bearable.

Egyptian cotton is superior to regular cotton species because it produces long, silkier fibres and therefore a softer thread when spun. This type of cotton needs certain climate conditions in which to grow, which is why it's most commonly grown in Egypt.
Image source: Cologne & Cotton

Don't be fooled into thinking that all Egyptian cotton is the same. The thread count and manufacturing process are also important, a 240 count sheet from a reputable manufacturer (Cologne & Cottons 240 count linens are exceptional for the price) will be of better quality than a 240 count set from an inferior manufacturer (whatever Next think is Egyptian cotton, isn't).

The basic rule of thumb is the higher the thread count, the better the sheets. A high thread count means the fabric is more closely woven (it's measured in threads per inch) and therefore, more cotton is used. This also makes them more expensive, but they will also wear better and last longer. 

You can buy these good quality sheets in may colours of course, but a classic white set will go with everything and can be paired with coloured bottom pillows, a pattern or stripe, or a throw to add extra luxury. 

To care for your sheets and make them last, wash each set seperately on its own, without mixing any colours. It's recommended that Egyptian cotton is put on a cool cycle in the machine (30 degrees is perfect) but they will withstand a hot cottons wash occasionally to remove stains. I've got fresh tattoo ink, coffee, mud from the cats paws and ink from gig stamps off no problem on a 60 degree wash. If you must add bleach to your wash (it's not recommended though) it's imperitive to use a non chlorine variety as this damages the fibres in the cotton. Similarly, do not use fabric softener either, not only is it damaging, the sheets will becomer softer with every wash anyway. Use a mild detergent, and less of it than recommended. You can put the sheets in a dryer on a low setting if desired, but it's best to shake them straight out of the machine and air dry. I find that if they are folded properly or put right back on the bed and smoothed out, they don't need ironing either, with the exception of 'Oxford' style pillow cases which need the hems ironing flat once in a while.

I've read in a housekeeping manual (yes, I'm that much of a neat freak) that you should own three complete sets of bedding, one on the bed, one in the wash, and one in the drawer. Not only will this mean a fresh set is always to hand, but the rotaion will allow even wear of the sets.

When buying sheets there are a few places I'd recommend.

Cologne & Cotton - Their One Row Cord 240 count set is particulary good value and if you have more to spend, you can't beat their 600 count Manhattan set for sheer hotel-look luxury. Contrast with Grey Dog Tooth or Red & White Check for some colour.

The White Company - Their 400 count set in plain white is excellent.

The Egyptian Cotton Store - For a range of classic whites and coloured trims.

King Of Cotton - Suppliers of Egyptian Cotton linens to the finest hotels, they also have retail outlets, on line ordering and sheets up to an ultra luxurious 1000 thread count.

Hope you all have a happy weekend with plenty of lie-in time!


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