When it comes to buying sheets, you probably think there’s only one thing that really matters: feel. What you might not realize, though, is that there’s a whole lot that goes into what your sheets feel like. From the material used to the weave to the thread count, there are plenty of things to consider when figuring out which sheets feel just right to you. And if you’re shopping for cotton sheets, chances are you’re looking for something very specific: cotton percale, which is one of the most common types of bedding available in the United States.

Cotton percale sheets are the crisp sheets of your dreams. They tend to have a lower thread count (we’ll get into that later), and feel cool to the touch, making them especially suited for summer nights. And if you tend to overheat while you sleep, no matter time of year it is, you can’t do much better than linen or cotton percale bedding. (In fact, the majority of the sheet sets in our Cooling Sheets Best List are cotton percale.) As a hot sleeper myself, I’m very familiar with these types of sheets, and rounded up some of the best of the bunch.

What to Consider Before Buying Cotton Percale Sheets

If you’re researching cotton percale sheets, you’ll want to make sure you understand what exactly that distinction means.

Percale vs. Sateen

First things first: When you talk about percale or sateen, you’re talking about the weave of the fabric. Sleepopolis has a really good explainer about the differences between the two weaves, but the most important thing to know is that the percale weave (or “one-over-one-under”) is characterized by a matte finish and crisp feel, while the sateen weave (or “three-over-one-under”) is recognizable by its lustrous finish and silky-smooth feel. The resulting percale sheets are cool to the touch, lightweight, and breathable, while sateen sheets are shiny, slightly heavier, and warmer.

Percale sheets are also, for lack of a better word, crinkly. They’re so crisp that they can be sort of noisy—think of your go-to button-down shirt or fancy hotel sheets. In my experience, there’s a scale of crinkling that percale sheets can be judged on, with some turning out crinklier than others.

Types of Cotton

When it comes to cotton, you’ll see words like “long-staple” and “Egyptian cotton.” But what do those things mean? Each cotton plant is made up of thousands of tiny fibers, and the quality of those fibers is determined by their length, or “staple.” Short-staple fibers are under 1 1/8 inches long, while long-staple fibers are at least 1 1/4 inches long. The longer the staple, the better the quality and higher the strength. Now, let’s take a look at the most popular types of cotton used to make sheets:

American Upland: This is the most common type of cotton used to make sheets—if the brand doesn’t specify, it’s most likely American Upland. It’s inexpensive and is typically comprised of short-staple fibers.

Pima or Supima: A high-end type of cotton, pima cotton has long-staple fibers and is known for its durability and smooth finish. Supima cotton is trademarked pima cotton produced in the U.S. and has extra-long-staple fibers.

Egyptian: You probably associate Egyptian cotton with luxury, and you’d be right. Egyptian cotton is another high-end, long-staple type of cotton that’s known for its long-lasting quality, soft feel, and high price tag.

Thread Count

When shopping for sheets, you’ll notice most brands tout a thread count. All that’s referring to is the measure of how many threads are woven into one square inch of fabric, and it’s meant to give you an idea of quality. Don’t be fooled, though: A higher thread count does NOT mean higher quality. Brands tend to inflate thread count numbers to trick consumers, when in reality there’s not much difference between a 400 and 800 thread count. You’ll want to stay between the 200- and 500-thread count range—anything lower will be susceptible to tearing, and anything higher is suspect.

Certifications

The main certification that’s important to this list is OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified, which means the bedding is free of harmful synthetics and dyes. (Read more about this certification and why it’s important.)

What We Look For in Cotton Percale Sheets

We tested a wide range of cotton percale sheets, judging them on the following criteria:

  • Feel: How do the sheets feel out of the box? Are they lightweight? Are they soft/crisp/smooth? Are they comfortable to sleep on? How crinkly are they?
  • Durability: Do the sheets feel thick enough to prevent shredding? Do they get softer with time and washing? What type of cotton are they made from?
  • Availability: Can the sheets be purchased as a set or only individually? Are there options for removing the top sheet? Are there a variety of color options?

Note: All prices listed are for Queen size.

Best Overall Cotton Percale Sheets: Riley Home Percale Sheet Set

Percale Sheet Set
$129
RILEY HOME

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It’s always difficult to pick the best overall, but Riley Home’s percale sheets stand out from the rest due to their Goldilocks quality: They’re crisp and cool but not too crinkly; soft and lightweight, but with a little heft. Unlike some percale sheets that you’ll want to put away come winter, these are sheets you’ll be comfortable with all year long. Even better? They get softer with each wash. Like all of Riley Home’s products, the quality here is obvious. Although the price is high, these are sheets you’ll want to keep around for many years.

These sheets also stand out for the variety of color options available. While similar brands tout just a few hues, Riley Home has nine colors and patterns to choose from. Go for a classic like white or slate, or add some personality to your bed with White Pinstripe or Silver Microcheck. I chose Mist, a light blue that contrasts perfectly with my gray quilt. For the finishing touch, there’s baratta stitching on the flat sheet and pillowcases, because why not? And remember, the top sheet is optional, so if you want it, don’t forget to specifically add it to your order.

Specifications:

  • Top sheet, fitted sheet, 2 pillowcases
  • 100% premium long-staple Egyptian cotton
  • OEKO-TEX certified
  • Available in 9 colors
  • 100-night trial period

Who It’s Best For: Those who want color options; those who want the choice between top sheet or no top sheet.

Good to Know: These sheets are also available at Bloomingdale’s.

Best Budget Cotton Percale Sheets: Martha Stewart Collection Percale Sheet Set

Martha Stewart Collection Percale Sheet Set
(usually$160)$79.99
MACY’S

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If price is your primary concern, check out these percale sheets from Martha Stewart’s Macy’s collection. Although they’re typically priced at $160 for Queen, they’re pretty much always marked down, and depending on the sale, you can get them for well over 50% less than the original price. Besides frequently being on sale, these sheets are nice and soft and have a crisp, lightweight feel—exactly what you want from percale bedding. They definitely aren’t as luxe as some of the other sheets on this list, but they do their job well. Plus, they come in a downright impressive array of colors and patterns. You’ll find hues called Glacier and Gloaming Rose, as well as some lovely floral motifs and even a dog-patterned set.

Specifications:

  • Top sheet, fitted sheet, 2 pillowcases
  • 100% cotton
  • 400-thread count percale weave
  • Available in 15 colors

Who It’s Best For: Those looking for something budget friendly; those looking for a range of patterns and colors.

Good to Know: This sheet set is made exclusively for Macy’s.

Best Luxury Cotton Percale Sheets: Snowe Percale Sheet Set

Percale Sheet Set
$220
SNOWE

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Snowe is one of AT’s favorite luxury bedding brands, and their percale sheets are nothing short of fabulous. Ultra crisp and airy, these sheets are the closest you’ll get to hotel bedding without spending hundreds of dollars. To be honest, if you’re not familiar with percale or if you prefer minimal crinkling, you might need some time getting used to these sheets, as they’re the crispest ones we’ve tried. That doesn’t mean they’re stiff, though—on the contrary, they’re super lightweight and smooth, resulting in a barely-there effect. This means, of course, that they’re ideal for the hottest sleepers among us, and feel extra nice when the temperature is high.

These sheets come in five neutral hues, including blush pink, but take note that they’re not available in Twin sizes. They’re made in Italy, and each piece is hand finished to ensure they’re as close to perfect as you can get. One of the best parts about ordering sheets from Snowe is the 365-night trial period, which makes the higher price tag feel much more doable. To be fair, the quality is obvious, and you probably won’t want to return them, but it’s nice to know you have a full year to make up your mind, just in case.

Specifications:

  • Top sheet, fitted sheet, 2 pillowcases
  • Made of 100% long-staple Egyptian cotton
  • 500-thread count percale weave
  • Made in Italy
  • OEKO-TEX certified
  • Available in 5 colors
  • 365-night trial period

Who It’s Best For: Those who want an ultra-crisp feel.

Good to Know: Snowe has a rewards program that lets you earn points you can redeem for store credit.

Best White Cotton Percale Sheets: Brooklinen Classic Core Sheet Set

Classic Core Sheet Set
(usually$139)$118.15
BROOKLINEN

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Fun fact: My mom is obsessed with these sheets. “I’ve always shopped for the cheapest sheets because I honestly didn’t believe I would notice a difference,” she told me, truly excited. “But I actually notice how much better these sheets are. I never want to sleep on anything else.” Go, Mom! She’s right, though. Brooklinen’s percale sheets have the least crinkly feel of all the options on this list, and they feel downright dreamy. Soft, airy, and comfortable, they’re sheets that’ll make getting out of bed that much harder and are cozy enough that you’ll love them on both hot and cold nights.

My mom has them in white, and they look exactly like the kind of white sheets you fantasize about. They’re crisp, a tad wrinkly (but in a good way), and just look… clean? There’s no other way to explain it. They look and feel like the sheets you would find in a 5-star hotel, but they’re in your bedroom. Hooray! To round out how awesome they are, they also come with a lifetime warranty(!) and are available in a really nice range of other colors, should you decide that white isn’t for you. Keep an eye out for Brooklinen’s limited-edition colorways—they tend to sell out fast, but the brand typically launches new ones every season.

Specifications:

  • Top sheet, fitted sheet, 2 pillowcases
  • Made of 100% long-staple cotton from Egypt and India
  • 270-thread count percale weave
  • OEKO-TEX certified
  • Available in 9 colors, plus limited-edition options
  • Lifetime warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those who want percale sheets but don’t like an ultra crisp feel; those who want to invest in quality sheets but don’t want to spend a lot.

Good to Know: You can also buy a Starter set that doesn’t include a top sheet, if that’s your thing.

Best Colorful Cotton Percale Sheets: The Company Store Classic Cotton Percale Sheet Set

Classic Cotton Percale Sheet Set
(usually$99)$59
THE COMPANY STORE

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If it’s an unusual color you need, The Company Store probably has exactly what you’re looking for. Their Classic percale sheets come in 20 different colors, from ivory and navy to hot pink and turquoise. They also come in six different sizes, including Twin XL and Cal King, and you can buy either the set or each product individually. This gives you tons of flexibility, especially if you just want to replace a pillowcase set or flat sheet. (You can even buy a matching bed skirt!) Even better is the relatively low price and 90-day warranty, which is currently extended to 120 days during the COVID-19 crisis.

I will admit, though, that these sheets are not the softest right out of the box. They have a more substantial, slightly heavier feel to them than other percale sheets, but do get softer with washing. Fear not, though: They have that classic crisp feel to them, and don’t get as wrinkly as other options (probably due to the heavier construction). Although these sheets are not made of long-staple cotton, The Company Store has a few other options that are, including a Supima Cotton Percale collection that costs $188 for a Queen set.

Specifications:

  • Top sheet, fitted sheet, 2 pillowcases
  • Made of 100% combed cotton
  • 210-thread count percale weave
  • Available in 20 colors
  • 90-night trial period (currently extended to 120 days during the COVID-19 crisis)

Who It’s Best For: Those who prefer a thicker feel; those who want ALL of the color options; those who need an unusual size.

Good to Know: Flat sheets, pillowcases, duvet covers, and shams can be monogrammed.

Best Organic Cotton Percale Sheets: Boll & Branch Percale Tailored Sheet Set

Percale Tailored Sheet Set
$240
BOLL & BRANCH

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We’re huge fans of Boll & Branch, and their Tailored sheets are the best of the best when it comes to organic cotton percale. While plenty of companies tout organic bedding, few come as close to Boll & Branch in terms of commitment. The entire brand sells only organic products, and their percale sheets meet some of the most rigorous standards out there, including certifications from OEKO-TEX, Fair Trade, and GOTS. Plus, they just feel amazing: crisp, super smooth, cool to the touch, and supremely comfortable. And unlike other small brands, Boll & Branch has a not-too-shabby range of colors available, including a nice pewter striped pattern.

The main draw of these sheets, though, is their organic nature. Boll & Branch’s Fair Trade-certified facilities are committed to ethical treatment of their employees, and every single one of the brand’s products are made without pesticides, chemicals, and GMOs. All of their packaging is made from recycled paper and can be recycled or repurposed, and they only work with FSC-certified shippers. Finally, they use 90% less water to cultivate their cotton than traditional farming methods, making this an eco-friendly choice as well as an ethical one.

Specifications:

  • Top sheet, fitted sheet, 2 pillowcases
  • Made of 100% organic cotton
  • 360-thread count percale weave
  • OEKO-TEX, GOTS, and Fair Trade certified
  • Available in 6 colors
  • 30-night trial period

Who It’s Best For: Those who want organic cotton.

Good to Know: Boll & Branch always offers free domestic shipping and returns.