Bed Sheets can pill, here's why.

Why do bed sheets pill?

Updated 9/19:

Pilling happens with many fabrics, even the best bedsheets may pill. Pilling can be the result of a number of factors.

  • Low-quality fabrics
  • Fabrics with loose weaves such as sweaters
  • Exposure to high heat or caustic chemicals
  • Abrasion
  • Inferior weaving
  • Or a combination of all of these factors

Pilling is the result of loose fiber ends becoming twisted up – which results in little knots (read more below video or watch video).

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Preventing sheets from pilling


With bedsheets, it is often a result of lower quality cotton fibers used in their construction. Shorter fibers used in the construction of the bedsheet have more ends in the yarns. Because the fibers are shorter, they are not as secure in the thread yarn and can become dislodged and may begin to work their way out of the thread and then knot up with other loose fibers.

Below is an illustration of two unwashed cuttings of fabric. 

Bed Sheets made with lower grades of cotton are more prone to pilling 

Notice the sheet on the right has a very consistent tight weave (This image is a cutting of our Italian woven cotton fabric).
The cotton bed sheet on the left has a loose weave, along with inconsistent thread diameters and weave (these are inexpensive department store sheets).
The cutting on the left already has a few nubs, which will soon become pills.

So how do you avoid bed sheets from pilling?

Purchase better sheets

Purchase the finest bed sheets here

    • One can start by investing a little more in the quality of the sheets one purchases.
    • Avoid those sheets claiming to be 1,000 thread count 100% Egyptian cotton that are selling for under $100. There is a 99% chance they are neither.
    • A great set of bed sheets will likely cost you between $300 to $1,000.

Albeit, our sheets are on the higher end of the price spectrum, they are made from Long and Extra-Long Staple cotton, which are exceptional grades. Because we sell Direct to Consumer there is no retail markup in our price structure, so like quality bed sheets would sell for more than double these prices.

Keep in mind that thread count is somewhat of a secondary consideration when it comes to bedsheets. It is more about the grade of cotton than thread count. Look for Long or Extra Long Staple cotton.
To properly care for luxury linens, watch the below video.


When caring for your sheets, use medium temperature water in the washing cycle, use low heat in the drying cycle and avoid harsh detergents and bleaches.

    • Most recognized brands of detergent such as Tide, Cheer, etc., contain brighteners. Brighteners are bleach derivatives.
    • Consider Dreft, Ivory or better yet Le Blanc linen wash (sold here), as these are good detergents but they are milder and easier on your linens.
    • High heat and harsh chemicals can damage the fibers making them brittle which can result in pilling.
    • If you iron your sheets, use a medium to a medium-high setting. This is obvious, but don’t let the iron sit too long in one place. 


Most people don’t think of this as a possible cause, but stubbly body hair can ruin sheets. Men that shave their backs and let a little stubble grow are abrading their sheets. The midsection of the body is where all of our weight is – so there is a little Brillo Pad action taking place as one tosses and turns while sleeping. To a lesser degree, women that have stubble on their legs are accomplishing the same thing.  

To properly care for luxury linens, watch the below video.

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Pilling bed sheets FAQ

Why do bed sheets pill?

  • Exposure to harsh detergents.
  • Exposure to Bleach.
  • High heat.
  • Poor grades of cotton.
  • Abrasion caused from body hair stubble.
  • Read additional information in our article – “why do bed sheets pill”.

What should you look for in high-quality bed sheets?

  • Country of origin.
  • European bed sheets are typically the highest quality
  • Italian bed sheets are the best overall.
  • Quality of the cotton they are made from.
  • Look for Long Staple or Extra-Long Staple cotton.
  • Better yet, read our article on “what to look for in your next sheets”.

What is thread count and does it matter?

What is the best way to care for your bed sheets?

  • Use a mild detergent.
  • Avoid using bleach or brighteners.
  • Use a cool or medium temperature when washing them.
  • Only wash one set of sheets in your wash machine at a time.
  • Dry on a medium temperature.
  • Read our entire article on the “best way to clean sheets” here.