What Is Bed linen?

07 February 2024 | 5 Minute Read - Words By Sally
Discover what we mean when we say bed linen in our comprehensive look at everything from sheets and duvets to deciding what the best fabrics for you are. Learn how to choose, care for and make the most of your bedding.

Table of Contents

  1. Sheets
  2. Duvets
  3. Duvet Covers
  4. Blankets
  5. Pillows
  6. Pillowcases
  7. Protectors
  8. Mattress Toppers
  9. Bed Linen Accessories
  10. The Most Popular Bed Linen Fabrics
  11. Bed Linen Sizes
  12. FAQs
  13. Conclusion

Most of us are very familiar with the term 'bed linen' as it forms part of our everyday life. But what exactly does the term mean?

Bed linen refers to the removable fabrics placed on top of your mattress. These fabrics are used for warmth, hygiene, comfort, and aesthetic appeal. Bed linen is often also referred to as 'bed clothes' or 'bedding', and these items have been used all over the world for many centuries.

In this bed linen guide, we will discuss some of the most popular types of bedding, including bed sheets, duvet covers, and pillowcases. We'll also answer some of your most frequently asked questions regarding bed linens.


Sheets are used to create a barrier between you and your mattress. The main purpose is for hygiene as it is far easier to wash a sheet than it would be to clean your mattress. It's recommended that your bed sheets are washed around every two weeks or so.

Thanks to its soft feel and natural fibres, cotton is probably the most popular fabric used for making top sheets; however, silk sheets are also popular. There are two main types of sheets, namely fitted sheets (with elasticated corners) and flat sheets.

Flat sheets

A flat sheet is rectangular in shape and has finished edges. Flat sheets come in a variety of fabrics, colours, sizes, and styles. Flat sheets are placed on top of the mattress and are tucked between your mattress and your box string. Another benefit of flat sheets is that you do not need to buy the exact same size as your mattress.

Fitted sheets

A fitted sheet typically has elasticated corners to ensure it 'hugs' your mattress, making it easy to take on and off. However, many people struggle when it comes to folding and ironing fitted sheets. You also need to make sure that you buy the same size fitted sheet as your mattress or else it won't fit properly.


A duvet is a type of blanket that is used to stay warm and comfortable while you sleep. A duvet is typically placed inside a duvet cover and is put on top of the bed sheet when making the bed. Duvets, which can be made from either natural or synthetic materials, are sometimes also referred to as 'comforters' and come in all different sizes.

Duvet Covers

A duvet cover is a lightweight cover that goes over the duvet and is typically secured with press studs or buttons. Duvet covers can easily be removed so that they can be washed. They also come in all different colours, styles, fabrics, patterns, and textures, presenting you with the perfect opportunity to show off your style.


There are many different types of blankets that you could add to your bed linen closet. Extra blankets are great for winter, when you may want additional warmth while you sleep. A blanket on top of your bed can also add colour and texture to your bedroom,

Those with sensitive skin may want to avoid 'scratchy' materials like wool and other fabrics. Instead, you may want to opt for Pima cotton, cashmere, or fleece.


Pillows are used to offer comfort and are placed behind the neck when sleeping. In addition to sleeping pillows, many people add scatter cushions to their beds for decorative effect. The type of sleeping pillow you use may have a significant effect on your sleep quality, so remember to choose carefully.


Pillowcases are used to protect pillows from dust and germs. As your pillowcase is in direct contact with your skin, it is recommended that you choose a fabric that's made from natural fibres. People who prioritise their skin and hair health tend to opt for silk or satin pillowcases.


Mattress protectors

Mattress protectors are placed between your mattress and your sheets so that no dirt or moisture stains your mattress. For example, if you were to spill a cup of coffee in bed, you could just throw your fitted sheet and mattress protector in the wash instead of having to clean your mattress.

Pillow protectors

Pillow protectors protect pillows from dust, mites, and germs, making them perfect for people who may have allergies. Just remember to wash your pillow protector just as often as you do your pillowcases. Pillow protectors may also help retain the shape of your pillows.

Mattress Toppers

When mattresses have been used for many years, they can begin to lose their shape. A mattress topper is placed on top of your mattress to give it a more plush feel.

Bed Linen Accessories

In addition to the different types of bed linen that we have already mentioned in this article, there are also accessories such as bed skirts, bed runners, base wraps, throws, wrap-around headboards and more. Some other bedroom linens include curtains, cushions, sleep clothing, sleep socks, and more.

The Most Popular Bed Linen Fabrics


Polycotton bed linen is made from a mixture of polyester and cotton. This material is praised for being soft and comfortable yet affordable. While polyester is a synthetic material, you can still expect polycotton linen to be quite breathable thanks to the cotton percentage.


Cotton is made from the cellulose fibres found in plants, and it is one of the most popular bedding materials. Egyptian cotton is a type of cotton that is of a slightly higher quality thanks to its high thread count. There are also dozens of other kinds of cotton available, including brushed cotton and Pima cotton.


If you're looking for luxurious bed linen, then silk may be a good choice of fabric for you. Not only is it smooth to the touch, but it is naturally hypoallergenic. Silk is also temperature-regulating, which means it will keep you cool in the summer and cosy in the winter.

Pure linen

Made from the fibres of the flax plant, pure linen is an excellent choice for anyone looking to invest in durable bedding. Linen bedding gets softer and softer the more you wash it and you can expect your linen sheets to stay in your household for many years to come.


Satin and sateen are great fabric choices for those who are interested in deluxe bed linens. Satin will also keep your hair and skin hydrated and is less likely to cause wrinkles than stiffer fabrics like linen. Just remember when it comes to satin, the more threads the better.

Bed Linen Sizes

Bed linen, such as sheets and duvet covers, comes in several different sizes, including:

  • Single

  • Double

  • Queen

  • King

  • Super

  • Super King

  • Emperor

The size of the bed linens you buy should be the same as your bed, but you can go a little bigger in some cases. For example, if you have a double bed, you should always buy double-bed-size fitted sheets. But you can use king-sized duvets and duvet covers on double beds. It will just spill off the edges a bit.

Bed Linen Styles

No matter your personal style, you are sure to find bed linen that suits your aesthetic preferences. From crisp white bedding to brightly coloured duvet covers and blankets with interesting patterns, there is truly something for everyone.

If you are furnishing a hotel or Airbnb with bed linens, it is best to stick with something simple. Most guests will appreciate crisp, clean bed sheets in simple colours like white or cream.


What is the best way to care for bed linen?

The best way to care for bed linen depends on what type of fabric your bedding is made from. It is very important to read the wash instructions and follow them carefully. You may also want to make use of fabric softener if you want to enjoy softer bedding.

Do you need to buy all the bed linen items mentioned in this article?

There are so many different bed linen types, so you certainly don't need to buy them all. For example, many people choose not to use a bed skirt or top sheet. The most essential bedding items include bed sheets, duvet covers, and pillowcases.

How do I choose the right bed linen for me?

There are numerous factors that you should take into consideration when buying bed linen. These include size, fabric, cost, style, colour, brand, and many more. You may also want to consider the climate where you live, as this will determine how warm you need your bedding to be.

Whether you want something luxurious like satin or something simpler like regular cotton, there are plenty of materials to choose from. Everyone has their own preferences, so make sure you do a bit of research before you make your purchase.

Is thread count important when it comes to bed linen?

The number of threads per square inch is referred to as the thread count. While a higher thread count is often indicative of a better-quality sheet, thread counts do not determine the quality of the yarn/fabric used.

Thread counts should be taken into consideration when buying bedding, but just remember to consider other factors too. If you want bed linen with higher thread counts, you should aim for at least 300 threads woven per square inch.


Bed linen refers to items such as flat sheets, fitted sheets, duvet covers, and pillowcases. Bed linen plays an integral role in our everyday life.

Most people spend around a third of their lives in bed, so it is well worth investing in the best bed linen if you can afford it. Purchase bedding that you like the look and feel of, because you will be spending a significant amount of time with it.


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