What Is Cotton Percale?

So it’s time to buy a new set of sheets. Welcome to the wonderful world of weaves, fibers and thread count. These are things you need to consider when looking for new sheets. One particularly popular type of sheets is Cotton Percale. But before you hop in bed with this comfy cotton goodness, there are a few things you should know.

Cotton Percale Sheets 101


The term cotton percale refers to the material (cotton) and the type of weave (percale) used to make the sheets. Percale is a weaving process where one thread is woven over, and one thread under in a tightly woven fashion. As a result, the sheets are strong, durable, smooth and crisp. The word percale comes from the Persian word “pargalah” which means rag. But fret not, cotton percale sheets are far from raggedy.


While many sheets are defined by their material, percale sheets are defined by their weave. Cotton percale sheets usually have a thread count of at least 200, meaning the weave is fairly tight. However, cotton percale sheets are highly breathable. This is because the cotton is woven in such a way that allows air to pass through. As a result, they’re great for summertime and for hot sleepers. Percale sheets are characterized by their matte finish, similar to an ironed button-down shirt. In addition, they’re lightweight and airy with a cool feel.

Percale vs Sateen

Percale and sateen sheets are two of the most popular sheets out. While many customers don’t really think to differentiate the two, there are notable differences.

For starters, sateen sheets are silky with a stylish sheen. This is a vast difference from percale’s crisp matte look and feel.

Sateen sheets are also naturally wrinkle-resistant. Percale sheets can get wrinkled in the wash. Many people will actually iron their percale sheets to enhance the crisp feel.

Percale sheets seem to be more durable than sateen. In fact, cotton percale sheets may get softer and more comfortable with every wash. Conversely, sateen is moderately durable. Snagging and pilling of the sheets shorten their lifespan and the sheen also tends to fade over time.

As we discussed, percale sheets are breathable and airy. As a result, they’re great for regulating temperature and keeping the sleeper cool. On the other hand, sateen actually retain heat. Sateen is great for the winter and for those who don’t sleep too hot. However, percale is typically good for all seasons.

Whichever sheets you go with, be sure to invest in a mattress protector. This will help keep your mattress clean and protected from filth, germs and dust mites.


Both sateen and cotton percale sheets are great options. It really does come down to preference and sleeping habits. We recommend sateen if you like sheets with a sheen and prefer a smooth look without too much maintenance. Furthermore, if you get cold at night and live somewhere with a colder temperature, sateen is a good option. Cotton percale is a better choice for those who’d rather have durable sheets that soften over time. In addition, cotton percale is great for someone who sleeps hot or lives in a warmer climate. Lastly, if you plan on using the same sheets through all the seasons, percale is the way to go.

Speak to A Sleep Consultant

Still not sure which sheets to go with? We totally understand. Sheets might seem like a minor decision, but they can completely change your sleeping experience. Visit your neighborhood Sit ‘n Sleep and speak to one of our expert Sleep Consultants. We can help you pick the perfect sheets so you can get your best night’s sleep.