Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

The Best Inexpensive Flannel Sheets

There are few things as comforting as slipping between super soft, comfy flannel sheets on a cold winter night. But not all flannel is created equal.

The problem with flannel and other raised fiber fabrics like fleece and knits is the heartbreak of “pills,” those little raised balls that develop, creating a lumpy surface. The solution to the pilling problem with flannel sheets is twofold: Opt for high-quality flannel and take steps to prevent pilling.

QUALITY FLANNEL

Quality flannel is not cheap. You could spend the outrageous price of $400 or more for a set of high-quality flannel sheets with a luxury brand name, or you could opt for something of quality with a much more affordable price tag.

Flannel sheets are not measured by thread count but rather by the weight of the material. Look for flannel sheets that are rated at least 155 gsm (grams per square meter, the metric measurement of fabric weight). And even though the very best flannel is manufactured in Portugal, other options deserve consideration.

BEST INEXPENSIVE

My pick for best inexpensive flannel sheet set currently available is JCPenney’s North Pole Trading Co. Flannel Sheet Set. These flannel sheets are nicely manufactured, offer excellent quality and are resistant to pilling. An excellent budget-friendly option.

They’re not made in the USA or in Portugal but rather the country of origin is stated as “Imported.” Prices start at about $32 at this writing.

COSTCO MEMBERS

You’re in luck if you shop at Costco. (You don’t have to be a member to shop for many items at costco.com, but you will pay an additional 5% nonmember fee and also shipping.)

Costco’s Portuguese Flannel Four-piece Sheet Sets (three-piece for size Twin) are fabulous in every way and amazingly bargain-priced. Available both in-warehouse and online now (a seasonal item), these sheets are pre-shrunk, double brushed, made in Portugal and the fabric is rated 160-165 gsm. Available in full, queen, king, Cal king and twin. Prices start at $28.

MORE LUXURIOUS OPTION

L.L. Bean Premium Supima Flannel Sheets are made of premium Supima cotton flannel sheets and feel softer and more plush than any other flannel sheets I’ve tested. Even after years of use, they’ve become even better. One-hundred percent Supima cotton flannel is 50% stronger than other cotton varieties. Manufactured in Portugal. Not available in twin. Prices start at $199.

PREVENT PILLING

Three main enemies can lead to the pilling of even the highest-quality flannel:

No. 1: Friction. The physical rubbing of the flannel fabric against itself during a vigorous wash cycle is the main culprit that causes the pilling of flannel sheets. Low-quality flannel will pill almost immediately, while higher-quality goods will do so over time.

To prevent this, when washing flannel make sure to turn the pillowcases inside out and opt for a gentle cycle. The agitation will be much slower, reducing the amount of friction on the fabric.

No. 2: Hot water. Flannel should be washed in cool to warm water, never hot water, which opens the fibers to pilling.

No. 3: Liquid fabric softener. It might make sense that adding a liquid fabric softener to the rinse cycle will result in softer flannel sheets, but the opposite is true. Liquid fabric softener increases the likelihood of a pilling effect because it breaks down and weakens the fibers.

Instead, add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the final rinse. (Simply pour it into the liquid softener reservoir.) This helps to rinse away all detergent thoroughly.

When any detergent is allowed to remain in sheets, towels and other laundry items, those items can come out of the dryer feeling stiff and scratchy.

You can find links and more information on all of these resources at EverydayCheapskate.com/flannelsheets.

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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