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A good night’s sleep on a regular basis is as important for your health and well-being as exercise and diet. While most of us know this, how many of us realize the role played by bed linen - specifically the humble pillowcase - in ensuring this restful sleep? Pillowcases don’t just make your pillows last longer, they also protect you from dust and allergies, and even help regulate your temperature as you sleep. However, with the excessive variety of available options nowadays, how can shoppers best decide which kind of pillowcases will suit their needs?

Here is a detailed break-down of the different factors that you should keep in mind while buying pillowcases. Use this as a checklist while looking at pillowcases online, and it will help you shortlist the ones that are right for you. Looking for ideas for dorm bedding? Read on!

When buying pillowcases, there are six different factors you can judge them on. These are:

  1. SIZE

The first thing to keep in mind when shortlisting pillowcases to buy is the size of the pillowcase. There are three main sizes of pillowcases available to purchase:

Standard pillowcases

The most commonly used and purchased size, the standard pillowcase is usually 26 inches long and 20 inches wide. This size of pillowcase would comfortably fit on a single twin bed.

Queen size pillowcases

At 30 inches long and 20 inches wide, a queen size pillowcase is just as wide as a standard pillowcase but longer. These pillowcases are best suited for use on a queen bed.

King size pillowcases

Usually 36 inches long and 20 inches wide, king-size pillowcases are the largest amongst commercially available pillowcases. They look good on king beds, although you can also use a single king-size pillowcase on a single twin bed.

  1. MATERIAL

The material of which the pillowcases are made will be an important deciding factor in your final selection. Some of the fabrics more commonly used to make pillowcases are:

Cotton: Due to its lightweight and breathable nature, cotton is a very popular material when it comes to bed linen. Cotton pillowcases will keep you cool and sweat-free all night and are also ideal for people with sensitive skin. If you are looking for affordable and easy-to-wash options for your new dorm bedding, cotton pillowcases would definitely be a good fit. Keep in mind though, that most cotton pillowcases would need some amount of ironing to look their best.

Linen: As breathable as cotton, but a great deal softer and luxurious, linen pillowcases are ideal for those who wish for an understated look and superior comfort. Made from flax fibers, this loosely woven material supports optimum airflow to give you a great night’s rest. Linen pillowcases are available in any number of colors today, to match the rest of your bedroom furnishings and create your dream room.

Flannel: Easier to maintain than cotton, and softer than the traditional cotton weave, flannel pillowcases can add a wonderful cozy touch to your bedroom. Brushed flannel is extremely soft, absorbent and comfortable, and will keep you warm in winter. Flannel pillowcases come in a variety of patterns and can make your room look equally colorful and rustic. If you are looking for dorm bedding that will be easy to maintain yet will keep you warm, pick flannel pillowcases without a second thought.

Satin: Satin is considered the ultimate luxury fabric when it comes to choosing pillowcases. Satin pillowcases will be the softest material you have ever felt on your face and will add a sensuous and luxurious touch to your room. What’s more, satin is wonderful against your skin and hair too, and will not leave fabric creases in the morning. Some people also believe that using satin pillowcases helps to keep facial wrinkles at bay. So if you wish to have a luxurious sleep and wake up wrinkle-free, consider investing in some satin pillowcases!

Microfiber: Microfiber is a term for man-made fine fibers, usually a polyester blend. Microfiber pillowcases are affordable and easy to maintain since they don’t crease. However, as this is a man-made fiber and isn’t breathable, avoid these pillowcases if you are going to be sleeping in very warm weather. Inexpensive microfiber pillowcases would work well as dorm bedding in colder climates, especially as they are durable and don’t need ironing.

Velvet: If you are looking for statement-making pillowcases, consider choosing a set made of glamorous velvet. These are very plush and attractive and will work well on throw pillows too. Velvet pillowcases are soft, luxurious and great for cold weather, as they will help you retain warmth. These days one can buy a variety of designer velvet pillowcases in a range of colors, sizes and patterns to go with the overall scheme of the bedroom.

Tencel/Lyocell: A sustainably produced artificial fiber, Tencel or Lyocell is a popular material for bed linen. Pillowcases made of this material are as comfortable and absorbent as cotton ones, but softer and a lot easier to maintain. If you are looking to purchase dorm bedding that looks good but won’t be hard for you to take care of, Tencel/lyocell pillowcases would be a good idea.

Bamboo: Pillowcases made of natural bamboo fiber blended with a synthetic material tend to be snug and breathable, with moisture-wicking abilities. They will not only give you a plush feel but also keep you healthy thanks to their antimicrobial qualities. Thicker than other kinds of pillowcases, they are nevertheless a good option for sleepers with allergies. Another great thing about bamboo pillowcases is that they adapt to the weather - they will keep you warm in winter, and cool in summer.

  1. THREAD COUNT

You would have noticed hotels advertising their 400 thread count sheets and bed linen.

The thread count of a piece of bed linen refers to the number of threads that are woven together in a single square inch of the fabric. The higher the thread count, the better the quality and softness of the material. If you want to buy pillowcases that feel really soft under your skin, pick those with a thread count of at least 300.

  1. DESIGN

The design of a pillowcase also needs to appeal to the user. There are chiefly two kinds of designs into which all pillowcases can be divided:

Oxford Pillowcases: These pillowcases have a fabric border sewn all around them, usually of the same material and color as the rest of the pillowcase. Sometimes, the border can also be ruffled. The presence of this border can give an Oxford pillowcase look larger than a normal pillowcase.

Housewife Pillowcases: Pillowcases that have a simple sewn edge without a border are known as Housewife or Terse pillowcases. They are plainer in appearance, and easier to change quickly. For purposes like hotel bedding or dorm bedding, this kind of pillowcase tends to be the preferred choice.

  1. CLOSURE TYPE

Many people don’t really think of this while selecting pillowcases, but you can also shortlist pillowcases by the type of closure available.

Envelope closure - In this kind of pillowcase, the back panel will have two pieces of overlapping fabric, like an envelope. One just slips the pillow into this envelope and is done. This style is simple and fuss-free, great for quick removals for washing, and easy to maintain as well. If you are shopping for pillowcases for dorm bedding or hotel bedding, pick an envelope style.

Zipper closure - Here, the pillowcase has a zipper at one end to completely enclose the pillow in it and seal it. While zippers can make the pillowcase look good, they are a little harder to quickly work open on washing day, and also take a little more maintenance. However, if your pillow is a very large size, adding a zipper to the pillowcase can give it a better structure.

  1. SPECIAL FEATURES

Apart from the basic characteristics already mentioned, one can also shortlist and choose pillowcases on the basis of special features and requirements. Here are some important features you could assess your shortlisted pillowcases on:

Hypoallergenic: If you have sensitive skin and/or allergies, then choosing hypoallergenic pillowcases is the best thing you can do for yourself. These pillowcases are made of materials that won’t set off any allergies, and will also repel dust mites. Hypoallergenic pillowcases will provide you with a comfortable night’s sleep without fear of allergies.

Wrinkle-free: Also known as no-iron pillowcases, the wrinkle-free kind of pillowcases are the easiest to maintain after washing. Easy wash, wrinkle-free pillowcases tend to be a popular choice for dorm bedding in particular.

Waterproof and Stain resistant: Worried about accidental spills spoiling your brand new pillowcases? You can avoid this stress by going in for waterproof and stain-resistant pillowcases. Manufacturers use microfiber blends, Teflon coated cotton and other similar material to make such hardy pillowcases which also look as good as any others.

We have summarised here the essential things to keep in mind when shopping for the perfect pillowcases. Keep in mind the weather they will be used in, the amount of time you wish to spend on their maintenance, the size of your bed, and cost vs durability. After all, a good night’s sleep is not something to be taken lightly!