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Percale vs. Sateen: What’s the Difference?

By Tanvir Chowdhury
Percale White Sheet Set on bed

We all have our personal preferences on bedding. Some people love having a big, fluffy duvet while others prefer a thinner, blanket-like comforter on their bed. Some people like a cool pillow while others prefer theirs to be warm. When it comes to sheets, there are various styles to choose from to meet your individual preference. 

Percale and sateen are two of the most popular and sought-after fabric weaves used to produce different kinds of sheets. The weave controls the sheet’s texture and other characteristics that can have a major impact on your comfort while you sleep. In this article, we’ll compare these two main sheet weaves to help you choose the right kind for your bed and personal preference.

What Is Percale?

The percale weave originated in India, but it quickly spread around the world. Today,
percale sheets are the most popular type of bedding available. So what are percale sheets? Percale consists of a tight, one-yarn-over, one-yarn-under pattern. The result is a crisp sheet with a powdery texture and a matte finish. Percale bed sheets are sometimes referred to as “old fashioned” or “clothesline crisp,” but they’re far more luxurious than your grandmother’s sheets. When woven from high-quality cotton, percale sheets grow softer with each use. 

The tight matrix of the percale weave is well known for being airy and lightweight, easily allowing for more airflow in your bedding. If you’re a hot sleeper or if you prefer breathable sheets, percale will easily check all the boxes in terms of ideal sheets. Cotton percale sheets are also less susceptible to pilling and breaks, so they’re very durable and long-lasting, proving to be a worthwhile investment. They can also be wrinkly when they’re fresh from the wash. 

What Is Sateen?

If luxury is a priority for you in your sheets, Sateen will prove to be an ideal option. What are sateen sheets? Sateen sheets have a higher ratio of warp (lengthwise threads) to weft (transverse threads), featuring a three-to-four-over, one-under pattern. The resulting sheets are lustrous, naturally wrinkle-resistant, and buttery smooth to the touch. Sateen sheets are also heavier and less breathable than percale. For sleepers who are cold at night, sateen is a warmer, more comfortable choice.

Many individuals learn about these two popular types of sheets and wonder- is percale or sateen better? The truth is that each type of sheet offers something unique. So how do you choose? Start by considering the quality of the fabric you’d prefer for your sheets. Sheet fibers have a wide range of quality, so do some research and determine which will best fit your needs and preference. Lower quality sheets are often made of rayon, while higher quality sheets are made from good quality cotton. At Ela Lane, we’ve made it a priority to make all of our sheets with 100 percent organic cotton to produce the best-quality, most environmentally friendly product possible.

Beyond fabric quality, consider the needs of your household as well as your personal preference. Percale’s breathability makes it a popular choice, but for consumers seeking a softer, silkier texture, sateen has a special draw. Who in your household is a cold sleeper or a hot sleeper? You may find that some will need percale and some will need sateen- not everyone will prefer the same style, and that’s ok! Prioritize comfort and quality over everything else.

Take some time to consider the laundering needs of the sheets. Both sateen and percale sheets are machine-washable and easy to launder. Because sateen sheets can be more susceptible to pilling over time, they’re best washed on a gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent. Percale sheets need no special treatment because they only get softer with laundering- wash them in warm water with a mild detergent.

You Decide

Everyone has different preferences and needs when it comes to bedding. There’s nothing more satisfying than climbing in bed at the end of the day and reveling in the luxury of exquisitely comfortable sheets. Percale sheets are crisp, soft, and cool. Sateen sheets are silky smooth and warm. At the end of the day, it’s all about what helps you to find that perfect amount of comfort. Have you decided on the right weave for you? Shop Ela Lane for 100 percent organic cotton percale and sateen sheets.

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