On chilly nights, quality flannel sheets are a great way to stay cozy. However, not all flannel is created equal. The best flannel sheets should be soft, warm, easy to care for, and develop minimal pilling (the small balls of fibers that form on some fabrics) after washing.
If you think flannel is available only in plaid prints, you are in for a surprise. Cozy flannel sheets come in a range of patterns, colors, and styles. Keep reading to learn about what to consider when choosing the best flannel sheets for your bed. We’ll walk you through how to select the best weight, material, patterns, and more to help you pick the right flannel sheets for your needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Pinzon Plaid Flannel Bed Sheet Set
- RUNNER-UP: Mellanni 100% Cotton Flannel Sheet Set
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Extra Soft 100% Turkish Cotton Flannel Sheet Set
- BEST ORGANIC: Mellanni 100% Organic Cotton Flannel Sheet Set
- BEST FEEL: Bare Home Flannel Sheet Set
- BEST PLAID: Stone & Beam 100% Cotton Plaid Flannel Bed Sheet Set
- BEST FOR COLD WEATHER: Pinzon Signature Cotton Heavyweight Flannel Sheet Set
- BEST YEAR-ROUND: Thermee Micro Flannel Sheet Set
- BEST FOR KIDS: Eddie Bauer Flannel Collection
- BEST BEDDING SET: Pointehaven Heavy Weight Printed Flannel Sheet Set
Flannel Sheet Fabrics
Flannel is a soft woven fabric made of cotton, wool, or synthetic fiber. Welsh shepherds started weaving flannel from wool as a way to keep themselves warm in the wet, windy weather. Nowadays, flannel is made from a variety of materials, each with its own pros and cons.
Cotton is a popular choice for flannel because it is soft and lightweight. Its durability and performance depends on the cotton staple (the length of the fibers) and weave tightness. As for regular cotton sheets, extra-long staple cottons (like Egyptian cotton or pima cotton) are considered premium options. Low-quality cotton sheets are more likely to pill and have a shorter lifespan.
The type of cotton used for weaving the flannel sheets determines their cost and durability. In general, cotton offers a wide range of prices, versatility in color and patterns, and softness. It’s the most common fabric used for making flannel today.
Cotton flannel sheets are the best option for those who sleep hot. The sheets are pretty breathable, and while cotton flannel sheets don’t wick moisture away from the body as well as wool, it’s a solid, quality choice.
Wool is known for its warmth and moisture-wicking properties. Good-quality wool is warm, lightweight, strong, and will keep you dry even when it’s full of moisture. It’s also naturally fire-resistant.
Wool is one of the more expensive materials for flannel, and therefore it is not as popular as cotton or synthetic options. Wool needs to be washed with care; in most cases, it’s not machine washable and cannot go into the dryer. There are machine washable wool options available, but they will be more expensive. However, with proper care, wool flannel sheets can last a lifetime.
Wool is extremely insulating, so if you are a hot sleeper, wool will probably be too warm for you. Wool flannel sheets can be scratchy at first, but they will get softer as you use them.
Synthetic flannel, also known as micro flannel, is made from polyester microfiber. This material is stain- and wrinkle-resistant, durable, and generally less expensive than wool or cotton. The material is made from plastic and is used in a variety of home products.
Synthetic flannel sheets are easy to clean, soft, wrinkle-resistant, and can withstand repeated use and washings without breaking down or pilling. However, the material is generally thin and prone to static electricity.
Blended cotton and polyester flannel offer the ability to reap the benefits of both fibers: warmth, durability, and cost.
Flannel blends are softer and warmer than synthetic flannel sheets, more wrinkle-resistant than cotton flannel sheets, and are considerably less expensive than 100 percent cotton or wool sheets. These sheets retain their color and shape even after laundering. Blends offer cotton’s lightweight breathability and synthetic fibers’ ease of care. Blended flannel sheets also pill less than cotton.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Flannel Sheets
When it comes to selecting the right set of flannel sheets, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Each person has different needs, preferences, and budgets. Read on to review the factors you should consider before selecting the best flannel sheets for your bed.
Year-Round vs. Seasonal
Although flannel sheets are a popular choice for cold nights, some people prefer to use them year-round. Flannel sheets are often used as a supplement to a heavier comforter or duvet and can even be used on their own in more moderate weather.
Flannel sheets are described by weight, not thread count; their softness and quality depend on their weight. Flannel weight is sometimes listed in ounces per square yard (imperial measurement), but it’s more commonly described with metric measurements in grams per square meter (GSM)—this is how much one square meter of fabric weighs. The higher the GSM number, the denser the fabric. All fabrics have a GSM, but you see it listed on flannel sheets the most often. The heavier the weight, the warmer the sheets.
Fabrics generally fall into these weight categories:
- Lightweight: 30-150 GSM
- Mid-weight: 150-350 GSM
- Heavyweight: 350+ GSM
Most flannel sheets technically fall within the mid-weight category. However, flannel sheets with a fabric rating of 170 GSM or higher, or at least 5 ounces, are heavy, warm, and will last for a long time. These sheets are best suited for seasonal use. Flannel sheets under 170 GSM are considered lighter weight and can be used year-round, unless you tend to sleep hot or live in a warmer climate.
Most sheets are defined by their weave, which determines their feel and durability. While flannel is a type of weave known for its napped, or fuzzy, finish and softness, flannel sheets can be either plain weave or twill weave.
In plain weave, the fabric resembles a checkerboard. In twill weave, the pattern is diagonal. Plain weave is more durable, but twill offers better drape.
Flannel is well-known for its texture—the fuzzy surface called its nap. Napping is a technique in which the fabric is brushed after it’s woven. Flannel sheets can be napped on both sides or just one side, and the napping can be heavy or light.
Sheets with napping on both sides are usually the softest and warmest, as the napping traps warm air. Double-napped sheets also cost more, but if you live in a cold climate, that extra cost may be worth it.
No matter what material you choose, the best flannel sheets are undeniably soft. After all, you probably don’t want to sleep on scratchy sheets. Wool and quality cotton flannel sheets will soften with use, while synthetic fabrics and blends stay relatively the same.
Napping also plays a part in how soft the sheets are. Basic flannel sheets are napped on one side, while premium sheets will be napped on both sides. Remember, the nap gives the flannel its “fuzzy” look and cushy softness.
When you set out to buy the best flannel sheets for you, remember that the fabric’s weight and nap will determine the sheets’ warmth. The heavier the sheets, the warmer they will be. Also, double-napped flannel sheets will be warmer than sheets with only one napped side.
Wool flannel sheets lead the way in warmth, but they can be expensive and high-maintenance to clean. For the ultimate warmth without the drawbacks of wool, go for double-napped cotton or cotton blend sheets that are above 5 ounces in weight.
Flannel sheets’ breathability depends on a few things, including the weave and quality and type of fiber used. The most breathable sheets have loose-woven fabrics or long-staple fibers that tend to allow more room for air to pass through.
Wool flannel sheets offer the best breathability, but cotton is a close second. Synthetic sheets feel cool to the touch but do not wick moisture away from your body. Synthetic flannel sheets also feature a tighter weave that limits air passage. And remember, if you are a hot sleeper, you’ll want to avoid double-napped sheets.
If you are a hot sleeper, then it’s important to choose sheets with moisture-wicking properties. Cotton and wool flannel sheets offer the best moisture-wicking, but although cotton can wick moisture from your body while you sleep, it doesn’t keep you as warm as wool.
Those who are prone to sweating in their sleep should avoid synthetic sheets. Although they are cool to the touch, they don’t wick away moisture and are not very breathable.
Ease of Care
Like other sheets, your flannel sheets will need to be washed regularly, so ease of care should be top of mind. Care instructions for flannel sheets vary according to the material. Cotton and synthetic fibers are typically machine washable in cold or warm water and can be dried on low or medium heat.
While some wool flannel sheets are machine washable, many are not, and none of them should be put in the dryer. These sheets will need to be line-dried.
Our Top Picks
Staying warm on chilly nights can be as simple as adding a cozy set of flannel sheets to your bed. These recommendations include some of the best flannel sheets for material, weight, softness, aesthetics, and ease of care.
Plaid is the first thing that comes to mind for most people when they picture flannel. Although flannel sheets are available in a variety of prints, plaid is classic and timeless. Pinzon’s plaid flannel set features 160 GSM 100 percent cotton flannel, putting these in the mid-weight category.
Mid-weight flannel is great for layering under a duvet or comforter on a cold night. It’s also breathable and not too heavy—perfect for people who tend to sleep hot. These sheets also feature a double-napped finish, lending them an ultra-velvety feel and extra warmth.
These sheets are available in six sizes and seven plaid prints. They’re also machine washable and show minimal fading and pilling after long-term use. This flannel sheet set offers warmth and a luxurious feel at an affordable price.
For people who aren’t crazy about plaid patterns, these Mellanni cotton flannel sheets are a great alternative.
Available in six sizes and a variety of solids and prints, these 100 percent preshrunk cotton sheets are also double-napped for added softness and warmth. At 160 GSM, these sheets are in the mid-weight category, making them perfect for year-round use or for hot sleepers who still like the feel of flannel.
Mellanni flannel sheets are fade-, stain-, shed-, and wrinkle-resistant, and they won’t shrink after a round in the wash.
At 180 GSM, these sheets technically fall into the mid-weight category for fabric, but for flannel sheets, they are considered heavy.
Made from Turkish cotton, which is renowned for its extra-long fibers, these sheets become fluffier and softer with successive washings. The sheet set also features deep pockets (for mattresses up to 17 inches deep) for a secure and snug fit on a variety of mattress sizes. These sheets are available in seven solid colors and six different sizes. They’re so affordable, too, you might be tempted to buy multiple sets to switch out every week to reduce use and washings and help extend their life.
Mellanni 100 percent organic cotton flannel sheets are certified according to the Global Organic Textile Standards, the world’s leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fiber. These sheets feature a double-napped finish and are 180 GSM, making them perfect for use on a cold night.
Available in four sizes and five color and pattern options, these flannel sheet sets include a deep-pocket fitted sheet that is suitable for mattresses up to 16 inches thick, with elastic all around to ensure a snug fit. These flannel sheets are machine washable, dryer-safe, and shrink-, fade-, and wrinkle-resistant.
These Bare Home flannel sheets boast supple softness, quality, and affordability. Their double-napped finish provides additional warmth as well as a velvety feel.
Made from 100 percent cotton, these sheets contain no toxic or harmful chemicals, making them great for people with sensitive skin. These sheets are available in 11 solid colors and seven different sizes, and the elasticized deep pocket fitted sheet will snugly fit mattresses that are 6 to 15 inches deep.
As comfortable as a well-loved flannel shirt, Stone & Beam’s rustic flannel sheets are made from 100 percent cotton and feature a double-napped finish, ensuring comfort and warmth.
These sheets fit best on mattresses that are less than 12 inches thick. They are machine washable and dryer-safe, making them a cinch to keep clean. If you are looking for a cozy, rustic style, Stone & Beam’s plaid flannel (available in six sizes and six different plaid styles and colors) could be just the right fit.
The Pinzon Signature flannel sheet set offers durability and supple softness. The sheets are made from 100 percent combed cotton, which means that the cotton fibers line up straight so they run perfectly parallel. This gives these flannel sheets a stronger, more lustrous appearance and an ultra-smooth feel.
At a 190 GSM, these sheets fall into the heavyweight category for flannel—one of the heaviest GSM for flannel bedding. It’s napped on both sides for enhanced velvety softness and warmth. If you are a hot sleeper, these sheets will likely be too warm for you. Available in eight solid neutral colors and three floral patterns, these come in three sizes: queen, king, and California king.
These sheets do have the tendency to shed after the first few washes. However, this is a common issue with flannel sheets.
Thermee Micro Flannel sheets are durable yet lightweight, making them suitable for year-round use. However, because they are made from synthetic fibers, they are not especially breathable. If you tend to get hot when you sleep, you might not enjoy sleeping under micro flannel sheets.
These sheets are thin and provide the right amount of warmth during the cold months. In warmer weather, they make a good top layer and remain cool to the touch. The sheets are available in a variety of fun and colorful patterns as well as six different sizes. They’re also colorfast and won’t fade, even when washed in super-hot water. They won’t shrink or pill and are wrinkle-resistant.
In addition to premium outerwear, Eddie Bauer offers home bedding and other home decor. Their flannel bedding is made from 100 percent cotton that is preshrunk and double-napped for added softness. It also has a cozy 165 GSM. These flannel sheets insulate while wicking away excess moisture and are great for layering or using on their own.
Sure, these sheets will keep the kiddos warm on cold nights, but what sets them apart are the fun prints. These sheets are available in a variety of novelty snowy woodland prints, including bears, moose, dogs, penguins on skis, and more. Best of all, Eddie Bauer makes a line of coordinating comforters and throw pillows to match.
Pointehaven offers 170 GSM flannel sheet sets for a reasonable price. These sheets are 100 percent cotton and double-napped for added warmth and comfort. This four-piece set includes a flat sheet, a deep-pocket fitted sheet that fits mattresses up to 16 inches, and two pillowcases.
The contemporary prints are a big draw, offering a fun alternative to plaid, solid, or other novelty-themed flannel sheets. They also feature extra yardage to accommodate for shrinkage. For a heavyweight flannel sheet set that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, consider this set from Pointehaven.
FAQs About Flannel Sheets
Flannel sheets can keep you cozy in colder months. If you’re wondering if flannel sheets are right for you, read on to find out the answers to the most common questions when it comes to flannel sheets.
Q. How do you wash and care for flannel sheets?
How you wash and care for flannel sheets depends on the material they’re made from. Cotton and synthetic flannel can be cleaned and dried in washing machines and dryers. Wool flannel sheets require special care and cannot be washed in hot water or placed in the dryer.
Q. How can you tell if flannel sheets are of good quality?
The quality of the sheet depends on its primary material and weight. Cotton or wool sheets that are at least 170 GSM or more in weight are better-quality sheets.
Q. Do all flannel sheets pill?
All flannel pills to some extent. Lower-quality flannel will pill immediately, while higher-quality sheets will do so over an extended period of time.
Q. Should you wash new flannel sheets?
Yes. Most sheets have sizing (a substance that is applied as a protective filler or glaze) on them when they are new. Washing them removes the sizing. Be sure to follow the proper washing instructions for your flannel sheets.