At the end of a warm day, the last thing you want to do is climb onto your mattress and find a sweltering hot bed. You want your sheets to feel crisp and cool to the touch—and that’s where percale comes in.
Generally made from cotton, percale and its woven construction set it apart from other types of linens. Percale sheets are lightweight and breathable, and a well-made set will make you feel like you’re relaxing in a luxury hotel. However, it can be hard to find high-quality sheets, especially if you’re shopping online (as most of us do these days). Luckily, we're here to help.
We tested some of the most popular percale sheet sets that you can buy today, and Brooklinen came out as the clear favorite yet again. (We also love its pillow protectors and Luxe Sheet Set.) The Brooklinen Classic Core Sheet Set (available at Brooklinen) delivers the perfect balance of quality, value, and ease of care, and they’re ideal for both summertime and year-round use. We've got a recommendation for tighter budgets, too: The Linen Home 100% Cotton Percale Sheets (available at Amazon) are smooth, airy, and easier on the wallet.
Brooklinen Classic Core Sheet Set
I’ve been a fan of Brooklinen for years, so I had high expectations for its Classic Core set. I’m happy to say that they did not disappoint. These sheets were softer and smoother than any other set we tested, yet they were still delightfully lightweight and remained breathable and cool all night long. Basically, they checked all the boxes you’d expect from percale sheets. An added bonus? They’re more affordable than several of the other luxury brands we tested.
These sheets are made with 100% long-staple cotton, with a 270 thread count. (This might seem a bit low, but we’ll get into why thread count shouldn’t be the determining factor in a bit.) While some percale sheets can end up feeling a bit rough, this Brooklinen set was smooth to the touch. They're also airy and light, making them ideal for anyone who sleeps hot. I’d happily use them on my bed year-round.
After testing dozens of sheet sets, I’ve learned that the details can make a big difference in your overall sleep experience. Brooklinen always delivers in terms of quality. The stitching is neat and precise, and the fitted sheet has “long” and “short” labels to assist you in making the bed.
Brooklinen's pillowcases have envelope closures that keep your pillows in place, no matter how much you fidget during the night. Plus, the fabric is Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex-certified, meaning it meets strict safety standards and is free from harmful substances.
While this Brooklinen set costs more than $100, it's more affordable than several others we tested. What’s more, you can’t beat Brooklinen’s 365-day return policy and top-notch customer service. If you’re not satisfied with the sheets, the brand will give you a refund, no matter the condition of the product. You'll never get stuck with sheets you hate—but we're willing to bet that won't be the case.
The Linen Home Percale Sheets fell in the middle of the pack, but there’s one major difference between these sheets and the products that otherwise scored above them: the price. Sure, they weren’t quite as soft, and the stitching wasn’t quite as neat as some of the luxury sets. But like many of the high-end sheets, these Linen Home ones are certified Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex, and are still enjoyable to sleep on.
These percale sheets are made from 100% cotton and have a 200 thread count. They also come in a comprehensive range of colors that's much greater than many of the other picks on this list. Out of the package, they had a slightly funky smell, but it went away after washing. (For what it’s worth, this is common for Amazon bedding in my experience.)
The fabric was a little more substantial, making them less airy but still breathable. The set also performed well in our stain testing, with almost all of the fruit juice coming out easily. The fitted and top sheets were smooth and crisp, so I was surprised to discover that the pillowcases were slightly scratchy to the touch—though they may soften after another wash or two.
Overall, I would definitely use these sheets again, and they’re a great value for anyone who doesn’t want to spend more than $100 on a sheet set. (And for anyone who doesn't need California King, as Linen Home doesn't offer that option)
I’m Camryn Rabideau, a freelance contributor here at Reviewed. I’ve been testing sheets and other bedding for several years now, and I’ve personally slept on more than two dozen sets, ranging from sateen and percale to flannel and linen. (An added bonus is that I’m now an expert at folding fitted sheets!)
In addition to my vast experience in product testing, I also studied textiles, fashion merchandising, and design. I took several courses on textile science, learning how to evaluate and differentiate fabrics. Fun fact: One of the easiest ways to figure out what fiber a fabric is made of is by setting it on fire! (Please don’t try this at home.)
If you’ve ever dreamed of getting paid to sleep, prepare to be jealous. To test each set of sheets, I slept on them twice: overnight and for a one-hour nap. I evaluated how soft and comfortable each felt, as well as a number of other criteria, including whether they made noise when I shifted in bed.
Next, I put each set through a series of tests to see how much they wrinkled and if stains were easy to remove. (Admit it, you eat in bed sometimes.) I stained them with fruit juice and diet soda, crumpled them up in a ball, and left them sealed in a bag overnight. It feels disrespectful, but it’s all in the name of science.
The next morning, I evaluated the wrinkles, then rinsed them in warm water before putting them through the wash. I didn’t use any stain remover or pre-treatment for this test—just regular laundry detergent.
Finally, I examined the construction, as I always find that the corners of inexpensive sheets rip at the seams. I also considered the depth of the fitted sheets, as well as how easy the sets were to store.
What to Know About Buying Percale Sheets
Most of us buy sheets simply based on how they feel, but there are actually quite a few factors that differentiate bed linens. If you want to get technical, fiber, construction method, and thread count all affect how sheets feel, perform, and wear over time, and these are the things we consider when testing and recommending bedding.
Sateen vs. Percale
Most people know that percale sheets have a crisp feel, but do you know what sets them apart from, say, sateen sheets? Percale and sateen are actually different styles of weaving. In fact, they’re often made from the exact same yarns, but the fabric’s construction makes all the difference.
In weaving, the yarns that run vertically are called “warp” yarns, and the horizontal ones are called “weft” yarns. Percale relies on a simple over-one, under-one weaving pattern. Basically, the weft yarns go over one warp yarn and under the next one, until a piece of fabric reaches the desired size.
The result is a tight weave, similar to that of a high-quality men’s dress shirt. This is what gives percale its crisp feel and matte finish. Compared to sateen, it’s quite durable and less prone to snags. It’s also more breathable than other fabrics thanks to its thin yarns and light weight. This makes it a great choice for summer nights and hot sleepers. However, it’s quite prone to wrinkling, so you’ll need to take your sheets out of the dryer immediately if crumpled bedding is a pet peeve of yours.
Sheet Fibers (Or, Why Cotton Is King)
Many people mistakenly believe that percale is a type of cotton, but as we just explained, it’s actually a weaving technique. That said, the vast majority of percale sheets are, in fact, made from cotton.
The natural fiber is known for its softness and breathability, and there are many different varieties available today. There’s Pima, Egyptian, and American Upland, each of which has a different staple length—a.k.a. how long a piece of fiber is when it’s harvested. Longer staple cotton makes more durable fabrics that are less prone to pilling, which happens when fibers break and wind into little balls on the textile’s surface.
Egyptian and Pima cotton are extra-long staple fibers, so they’re a good bet for sheets and less likely to pill over time. (Sometimes Egyptian cotton is used to refer to any cotton grown in Egypt, so also look for wording that indicates the staple length.) To lessen the chances of pilling, choose your staple length wisely. You’ll want fabric made from “long” or “extra long” staple cotton, which will likely be softer and last longer.
We’d recommend passing on percale sheets made from another fiber or a blend of fibers, such as cotton-polyester. Percale and cotton go hand-in-hand, and you’ll likely lose the signature breathability and lightness if another fiber is introduced into the mix.
What’s Up With Thread Count?
Finally, we need to talk about thread count, which refers to the number of warp and weft threads in one square inch of fabric. Most people assume that a higher thread count automatically equals higher quality, but this is a myth perpetuated by cheap sheet companies. The truth it isn’t that straightforward.
Depending on the manufacturing country, the thread count can be calculated differently. You see, a piece of yarn is typically made up of several smaller threads twisted together, and this is called its “ply.” For instance, a three-ply yarn is made up of three smaller threads. In the United States, the ply is not counted toward the total thread count, but in other countries, it can be.
So, a sheet made from two-ply yarn might have a thread count of 250 when manufactured in the U.S.. But when made overseas, the same fabric might be labeled as 500 thread count. Some brands do this purposely to make their product seem more appealing, but overall, it’s really just confusing to consumers.
For these reasons, thread count isn’t a surefire way to gauge the quality of sheets. As long as the thread count isn’t ultra-low, say less than 200, you probably don’t need to sweat it. In fact, in our extensive testing, many of the best sheets have a thread count of 250 or 300, so we really don’t recommend worrying too much about it as you shop.
Other Percale Sheets We Tested
Parachute Home Percale Sheet Set
These Parachute sheets are quintessential percale. They’re smooth to the touch without being overly soft, and they’re crisp and light, and breathable. Overall, I found them delightful to sleep on—and I think they would be ideal during the summer. They're impeccably made, with neat seams and sturdy stitching. They missed the top spot due to the fact that they’re harder to wash than the Brooklinen sheets—other than that, they’re right on par with our top pick.
Manufactured in Portugal, they're made from 100% long-staple Egyptian cotton (a.k.a. the best of the best) and have a beautiful matte finish. The garment-washed fabric has a softer texture and a more casual, lived-in appearance. It’s also Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex-certified, and Parachute even gives you the option to buy a set with or without a top sheet. These sheets kept me at the perfect temperature throughout the night, and they had a perfect crisp feel that both my partner and I loved.
My only real complaint is that the pillowcases’ closures are in the middle of the pillow. While this does a great job at keeping the pillow in place, I ended up with my face on a seam when I flipped my pillow in the middle of the night.
A few other small issues: they wrinkle quite easily, though that's expected with percale. They also fell flat during the stain testing—somehow the stains seemed to spread and get worse after washing. However, if you’re tidier than the rest of us, this may not be a dealbreaker.
L.L. Bean 280-Thread-Count Pima Cotton Percale Sheet Set
These L.L. Bean sheets are a popular choice among product review sites, so it’s no surprise that they performed so well in our tests. The four-piece set is made from pima cotton, an extra-long staple variety grown in the U.S. They're significantly more comfortable than many other percale options we tested—they’re not the softest, per se, but they’re not rough or harsh.
These sheets don’t wrinkle as badly as some of the others we tried, either. Stains can easily be removed, and the construction feels high-quality. Overall, these percale sheets are a solid investment for those who love their sheets to have a crisp, light feel. Unfortunately, Twin XL is not a size option at L.L. Bean at this time.
To give credit where it’s due, these Riley sheets strike a great balance between feeling crisp and soft. But they have a few downsides. For one, the percale fabric is incredibly thin—we could clearly see the pattern on a pillow insert through the pillowcase. In addition, these sheets emerged unbelievably wrinkled after washing and drying. After a spin in the washer, they came out looking like a crumpled tissue.
The complete sheet “set” doesn’t include a flat sheet, and if you want to add one, it will cost you an additional $50 to $80, depending on the size. Overall, we think there are better sheets for the price.
West Elm Organic Washed Cotton Percale Sheet Set & Pillowcases
Similar to the Riley Sheets, the West Elm Percale Sheets are extremely thin and practically see-through. The 200-thread-count fabric is garment-washed, making it nice to the touch and comfortable to sleep on. But it just doesn't feel very substantial. I worry that they would eventually get ripped, either in the washing machine or being tugged onto the corners of a bed.
These sheets do stand out in one aspect: They’re made from certified organic cotton, which is grown without the use of pesticides. Still, I don’t think it’s enough of a selling point, especially since there are several other Oeko-Tex-certified options at a similar price point. If you need California King sheets, it's a moot point anyway. The option isn't available here.
These Snowe sheets are some of the most crisp-feeling sheets in this bunch, thanks to their 500-thread count. Because there are so many threads of yarn packed into one square inch, the fabric is quite stiff and doesn’t drape as readily. Made from long-staple cotton, they have an extra-deep fitted sheet that’s compatible with mattresses up to 17 inches.
Though they were a little rough, I didn’t mind sleeping on them. The downside is that they make a lot of noise when you shift around and they also wrinkle a lot. Those factors, coupled with an extremely high price tag, prevented them from ranking higher. They are not currently available in Twin or Twin XL.
As soon as I took these sheets out of the package, I dreaded the moment I had to put them on my bed. There’s no nice way to say this: They feel like a brown paper bag. They’re rough, scratchy, and overly stiff, and while I did my due diligence and slept on them, I could not get them off my mattress fast enough.
Given my poor experience with them, I was truly puzzled at their more than 4,000 5-star reviews, so I did a bit of digging. It seems as though the company has recently made changes to these sheets, as a lot of the positive reviews are from years ago. Many of the newer reviews echo my sentiments.
These budget-friendly sheets do live up to their “Easy Care” name. They were the only sheets that didn’t end up a wrinkly mess, and both stains came out completely without any pre-treating. However, we don’t recommend buying them unless you want a pillowcase that doubles as an exfoliant.
Pottery Barn Classic 400-Thread-Count Organic Sheet Set
I was underwhelmed by this Pottery Barn set. Right off the bat, I noticed that the fabric was a little see-through, as my pillow's striped pattern was visible through the pillowcase. (The set comes in a few other color options, so you might fare better with something other than white.)
They were also a bit scratchy, stains didn’t come out well, and overall, they’re just not as welcoming as other options. In our opinion, you’re better off passing on these, even though they’re from a well-known and widely loved brand.
Camryn Rabideau is a full-time freelance writer and product tester with eight years of experience. She's been lucky enough to test hundreds of products firsthand, and her specialties include bedding and pet products, which often require help from her two dogs, three cats, and flock of rambunctious chickens.
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