Let’s talk Bed Linen: Everything you need to know


With 90% of travelers regarding a comfortable bed as “the single-most important factor” for an enjoyable stay in a hotel room, it’s imperative to ensure the bedding, mattress and bed linen you offer is carefully thought out.

Though choosing the best bed linen for your private bedroom, bed & breakfast, holiday home or hotel is an essential process, it can also be a difficult one when weighing up the pros and cons of every style, colour, fabric and thread count available.

From polycotton vs cotton to choosing the right thread count, this extensive bed linen guide contains everything you need to know about choosing the right linen for you and your guests, so you can perfect that essential great sleep environment.

With this story we will cover the following:

  1. Thread counts
  2. Cotton vs. polly-cotton
  3. Bed linen measurements
  4. Choosing colours
  5. Wash care instructions
  6. Extra features
  7. Bed linen glossary

1 . What is thread count?

Thee thread count of bed linen refers to the number of threads woven together per square inch, counting horizontal and vertical threads. Say, for instance, 100 lengthwise threads are woven with 100 width wise threads, this would produce a thread count of 200. The threads need to be single threads and not twisted to increase the count.

Does a high thread count mean quality?

A higher thread count(300 – 400Thread counts) is desirable in hotels as it is often associated with being softer, stronger and more luxurious than other bed linen. The misconception, however, is that a high thread count is completely synonymous with quality, as quality can also be heavily determined by the standard of the fabric itself.

Our luxurious 400 thread count bed linen, for example, is produced from 100% fine long staple cotton, giving a silky soft finish that is highly sought after in boutique hotels and B&Bs. While the thread count is a huge factor in the overall standard of a product, its combination with a superior fabric is what allows the quality to really shine through.

Linen with a higher thread count can also translate to a much higher price tag, so ensuring you consider, but are not driven by, the thread count of a bed linen is essential when weighing up the benefits of style and fabric, too.

What is percale bed linen?

Often confused as a type of fabric, percale refers to a specific type of weave consisting of a simple criss-cross pattern, used to create a durable yet soft fabric, tightly woven to ensure it is suitable for repeat use, washing and drying.

Authentic percale linen is defined as having a minimum of 180 threads per square inch, resulting in a superior finish. Percale is not, therefore, defined by the fabric it is produced from, meaning it can be manufactured using polly-cotton, 100% cotton, or any other blend of fabric threads.

2.  Polly-cotton vs. Cotton: Which is better?

Both polly-cotton and cotton remain the top two choices amongst hotels, B&B’s and self-catering properties for two entirely different reasons.

Polly-cotton, a blend of durable polyester and luxurious cotton, is a preferable choice due to being relatively easy-care, meaning little to no ironing is necessary to still maintain a crisp finish. The fabric is also renowned for being incredibly long-lasting, withstanding the rigours of repeated use, washing and drying, serving as a great choice within commercial environments.

On the other hand, polly-cotton linen also has a reputation for having a rougher feel compared to cotton, largely due to the fabric containing the man-made synthetic fibre, polyester. Polly-cotton also comes in different cotton blends. The latest available on the SA market is 50 polyester/50 cotton and do not let anybody tell you otherwise.

Cotton, on the other hand, is often a popular choice due to the element of luxury it adds and the benefits that follow. Rather than being combined with a synthetic, man-made fibre like polyester, 100% cotton linen utilizes a naturally occurring material, making it a great choice for guests with sensitive skin. It is also favoured due to its ability to retain its softness, breath-ability and durability wash after wash due to the exceptional natural properties of the fabric.

On the other hand, cotton also has a reputation for being relatively high maintenance in terms of washing, drying and ironing time compared to polly-cotton.

If you like to offer the service and get the recognition of being green do consider cotton before polly-cotton.  Polly-cotton can take up to 15 years to disintegrate.

3.  Bed linen measurements

Due to variances in fabric and style, our bed linen ranges vary in size, though they are typically the same, or slightly more generous in size, compared to the standard SA sizes cotton has a tendency for shrinkage when washing, we try and accommodate this specifically in our sizing. Meaning, we do add shrinkage.

4.  Plain White or colour?

Not only is bed linen a practical necessity in every bedroom, it can also serve as a decorative addition to tie into any room décor. Whether opting for plain bed linen in your bedrooms, it’s important to assess what fits best with your décor and, most importantly, what your guests will like.


Crisp, white linen is a timeless favourite amongst most hosts and guests alike, as it gives a sense of freshness and minimalism that’s sure to please everyone. Though plain in appearance, less is often more with bedroom décor, and white linen can be livened up with pops of colour by adding soft furnishings such as bed covers, bed spreads, cushions and curtains.


Coloured bed linen, especially in darker shades such as charcoal and taupe and minimal pebble/stone, are incredibly versatile and on-trend. Especially when mixed with your white linen.

5. Care instructions


All our bedding are suitable for professional laundering and we do  recommend commercial laundering for two very simple reasons:

  1. We do not use stainless steel poppers or buttons so it is fully compatible with the laundering process of calendaring, which involves forcing fabric through two heated rollers at high pressure to smooth out the linen.
  2. We recommend our bed linen to be washed at no higher than 60°C, that makes it durable for professional launderers that use higher temperatures, and no it will not reduce the lifetime of your bed linen.


  • Separate white/light/dark colours
  • Use a colour safe detergent that does not contain optical brighteners
  • Do not overfill the washing machine
  • Wash at a temperature of up to 60°C
  • Remove the bed linen from the washing machine as soon as possible


  • Do not overfill the tumble drier
  • Dry on a cool setting – no more than 70°C to 80°C
  • Do not over-dry and use a cool down period allowing the cloths, and walls of the machine to cool completely before stopping the tumble drier. This will minimise creasing.


  • Use a cool to warm iron
  • Do not bleach or dry clean

6. Made for hospitality

We appreciate that bed linen within a hospitality environment has to withstand far more rigours than that of domestic bedding. That’s why all of our bed linen is made to last ensuring colour and quality are maintained, and we’ve added a number of extra features to save you time and effort when changeovers are tight.

Our standard bed linen ranges all feature the open bag style duvet covers that are not only durable, but also make a considerable difference in speeding up changeovers.

Our bedlinen also contains coded size identification tabs, allowing you to quickly and efficiently select the correct size duvet cover without rooting through your entire linen cupboard.

Our 100% cotton duvet covers, are specially manufactured with a wide shoulder feature to ensure changing the duvet cover is effortless and time-saving and your duvet inner will not fall out or hang out.

7. Bed Linen Glossary

Bed linen terminology can be a confusing and even mind-boggling task to decipher, so take a look at our jargon buster below to get savvy with bed linen slang!

Bed base wrap: Bed base wraps are an alternative to valances in that the elasticated edging fits tightly around a bed base to give a cleaner, sophisticated look

Bedspread: To be used as a cover over your whole bed including the pillows or as a decorative coverlet to add to your décor.

Combed cotton: A softer version of regular cotton, combing cotton involves treating the cotton fibres until they are spun into yarn. The combing process involves removing all unwanted fibres from the cloth to give a smoother result

Cotton rich: Bed linen may be referred to as ‘cotton-rich’ meaning the majority of the materials used is cotton, blended with other materials such as polyester

Duvet cover: Duvet covers are a decorative yet protective layer for your duvet, available in different colours, patterns, styles and textures, often co-ordinating with pillowcases

Easy care: When referring to bed linen, this means the fabric requires little effort to launder and typically little to no ironing

Fitted sheet: A fabric sheet with elasticated corners designed to tightly fit over the top of a mattress, adding an extra level of comfort and hygiene

Flat sheet: Also referred to as a ‘top sheet’, the flat sheet is typically placed on top of a fitted sheet or in between the duvet and a blanket for an extra level of comfort and hygiene

Housewife pillowcase: A style of pillow where the sewn edge ensures a pillow fits snuggly into the corners

Jacquard: A fabric made on a loom fitted with a jacquard to create an intricate and subtle variegated pattern

Open bag: This style of duvet cover has an open end, making it an easy duvet cover to change. This is a popular choice amongst housekeepers as it allows for quicker changeovers

Oxford pillowcase: A style of pillowcase with a fabric edge, border or frill, usually around 5cm

Percale: A closely woven plain weave fabric. This can be 50/50 polycotton, 100% cotton or a blend of any other fabrics. A thread count of 180 or higher is usually considered percale.

Pilling: Known also as bobbling, pilling is the result of improper care when washing bed sheets. Pilling is when small loose or broken fibres knot and create pesky deposits of fibres on linen or clothing

Pillowcase: Often co-ordinated with duvet covers, pillowcases are a hygienic casing for your pillows to protect against bodily oils, sweat and soiling.

Pillow protector: Used as a barrier between the pillow and pillow case, pillow protectors are popular additions to guest rooms as they protect pillows from fluids, oils and stains making contact with the pillow, helping to extend the lifetime of the pillow.

Polyester: A man-made, synthetic fibre often used in bed linen due to being durable and wrinkle and shrink resistant

Polycotton: A blend of polyester and cotton

Satin/Sateen: A luxurious, smooth and silky fabric produced by a weave in which the weft goes over several warp threads to create the smooth surface

Seersucker: Seersucker is a lightweight, all-cotton fabric with a crimped, chequered or puckered surface

Thread count: This refers to how many threads – vertically and horizontally – are woven into one square inch of fabric.

Valance: Also known as a bed skirt, a valance is a piece of decorative fabric used to cover a bed divan or space underneath a bed. It is placed between the mattress and the box spring section of a bed.


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