Percale Sheets Explained

Key Points

  • Percale is a popular weave for bed sheets due to its softness and breathability.

  • A higher thread count doesn't necessarily mean a higher quality product.

  • Sateen sheets are a popular alternative to percale sheets.

  • Percale sheets tend to wrinkle easily and may require frequent ironing.

Percale sheets are a must-have in every household. Most popular bed linens use these breathable, thin, matte sheets. Apart from the look and feel, percale sheets get softer with every wash, feature high-end durability, and are affordable for every home.

Percale sheets originated as an Indian export that took the European textile industry by storm and remain on the worldwide market in 2023. They're usually made with cotton but can have other fabrics added to them to help prevent wrinkles. Percale's famous tightly woven pattern creates cooling, lightweight, and breathable bed sheets. This guide discusses the percale weave, material, thread count, and care guidelines.

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Percale Sheets We Love

LINEN Home uses combed cotton yarns from India to create luxurious percale sheets. The four-piece set includes a flat sheet, a fitted sheet, and two pillowcases. The extra-deep pockets make it easy to keep the sheets on your mattress, and the Z-stitch gives them an elegant look. You'll love curling up in these cozy sheets, but the breathable weave won't let you overheat. The sheets are available in six sizes and 23 colors.

If you're searching for top-of-the-line sheets, try this set from Boll & Branch. This product earns its higher price point with its 100 percent organic cotton! The cooling material keeps you comfortable throughout the night, and the durable weave holds up for years. The fitted sheet has an incredibly smooth look, and the 17-inch pockets and elastic lining keep it on your mattress. This sleek option has six sizes but only three available colors.

Land's End percale sheets' smooth and soft texture will excite you to fall asleep each night. The luxurious sheets have a thread count of 300 and are incredibly breathable. The comfortable material is very smooth and feels soft to the touch. Their construction is reliable, making them ideal sheets for years! These Supima cotton sheets are suitable for mattresses up to 16 inches deep. There are six available sizes and colors.


The word "percale" doesn't refer to the sheet's material. Rather, it's the type of weave pattern that's used. The actual material of these linens is typically cotton, although it can also contain polyester or bamboo. Some cotton percale sheets use Egyptian cotton for an extra luxurious feel. Egyptian cotton sheets differ from standard cotton fibers; they're much stronger and longer, resulting in a higher thread count.

Those soft, cooling, white hotel bed sheets are prime examples of high-quality Egyptian cotton percale sheets. Pima cotton is another type of high-end percale. Some percale linens contain percentages of polyester or silk, which are wrinkle-resistant, to help maintain the look.

Thread Count

Another reason that this luxury linen appeals to many shoppers is its excellent thread count. If you aren't familiar with the term, thread count refers to the amount of horizontal and vertical threads per square inch of cotton.

A common misconception is that a higher thread count equals a higher quality product. However, this isn't always true; any sheet that boasts a thread count higher than 500 or so may not feel as comfortable as you might think. Also, some manufacturers artificially boost their thread counts!

Luckily, percale sheets are in the "Goldilocks" range — 200-400 — ensuring they're soft, breathable, and not cheaply made. Better yet, the United States has a minimum standard for thread count for percale sheets: 180.

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Why Is the Percale Weave Popular?

You may be wondering why this specific type of weave pattern gives percale its popularity. The plain weave follows a simple one-over-one-under pattern that's woven very tightly; think of a tightly bound crisscross or grid-like pattern. This gives the sheets a familiar matte, smooth feel. Another upside of this tight weave is durability — these sheets will last for years, even after repeated washes.


One downside to percale sheets is that you may need to iron them to stay wrinkle-free after washing. However, they remain perfectly durable after repeated washes. In fact, due to their material, these sheets get softer the more you wash them, so you can fall asleep with even softer sheets after every cycle and get that brand-new feeling each time.

You can machine wash and dry percale sheets without worry. After drying, you may need to iron them to remove wrinkles. If you don't want to iron them, place them flat on your bed immediately after drying while they are still warm to help smooth the wrinkles.

Percale vs. Sateen

Sateen is a common alternative to percale, but the two have many differences. The threading pattern used in sateen sheets produces shiny linen, similar to a satin sheet. On the other hand, cotton percale sheets are matte.

Instead of one-over-one-under (percale's weave pattern), the sateen weave uses a single thread under three or four others. This results in extra shine, but it may fade over time. Sateen sheets trap more heat than breathable percale sheets, which may be uncomfortable.

Sateen sheets are generally cheaper than percale but wear down with repeated washes. Percale may get wrinkled with washes, but it also gets softer. Although both are soft, the thread count range for sateen sheets is generally higher than that of percale. Lastly, sateen is heavier and thicker, while percale is more breathable. Both use cotton and are equally quality sheets.

Here's a basic rundown of the main differences between the two:

Percale: Matte, prone to wrinkles, durable and washable, single yarn over/under weave, more expensive option

Sateen: Shiny, smooth, wears down over time, single yarn under three or four others weave, cheaper option

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Purchasing Cotton Percale Sheets

Percale sheets are available year-round from both online and brick-and-mortar retailers. They are typically packaged in sets with other cotton percale items, such as matching matte pillowcases. If you only want one addition to your bedding, purchase pillowcases, fitted sheets, and flat sheets separately.

For a complete percale bedding setup, you'll need a mattress pad (not made of percale) to prevent spills and stains, a percale fitted sheet, a percale flat sheet, a percale pillow case, and then top everything off with some decorative pillow shams and a comforter or duvet set.

Thread count, color, and size distinguish percale sheets and sets. You can purchase them in sizes ranging from crib to California king and from thread counts ranging from 180-500. They come in all sorts of decorative styles and colors to match any bedroom color scheme and are safe for sensitive skin and young children, except for newborns that are too young for bedsheets.

Before making your purchase, make sure you know the dimensions of your mattress so you can match them up with the correct size of sheets. If you haven't yet invested in a mattress pad or topper, consider getting one to put underneath your percale fitted sheets.

Percale may be the best replacement if you've been considering switching up your old bedsheets. They're convenient, affordable, easy to clean, and have everything in terms of look and feel.

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