On chilly nights, quality flannel sheets are a great way to stay cozy. However, not all flannels are 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.
Shoppers who think flannel is available only in plaid prints are in for a surprise. Cozy flannel sheets come in a range of patterns, colors, and styles. We tested each of the sets on our list to find the sheets that are soft and durable. We used these sheets for multiple nights and washed them several times to make sure that they could make any bed a cozy haven.
Keep reading to learn about what to consider when choosing the best flannel sheets. We’ll discuss how to select the best weight, material, patterns, and more to help shoppers pick the right flannel sheets.
- BEST OVERALL: Mellanni Flannel Cotton Sheet Set
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Pointehaven Cotton Heavy-Weight Flannel Sheet Set
- BEST ORGANIC: Mellanni 100% Organic Flannel Cotton Sheet Set
- BEST FOR COLD WEATHER: Great Bay Home 4-Piece Cotton Flannel Sheet – Raye
- BEST YEAR-ROUND: Shavel Home Products Micro Flannel Sheet Set
- BEST FOR KIDS: Eddie Bauer Flannel Sheet Set
Types of Flannel Sheets
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 today for making flannel.
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 sleepers dry even when it’s full of moisture, thanks to its evaporative quality. Wool fibers absorb moisture and release it into the air. It’s also naturally fire- resistant.
Wool is one of the more expensive materials used for flannel, and therefore it is not as popular as cotton or synthetic options. Wool needs to be washed with care; it’s often not machine washable and cannot go into the dryer. There are machine-washable wool options available, but they tend to be more expensive. However, with proper care, wool flannel sheets can last a lifetime.
Wool is extremely insulating, so for those who are hot sleepers, wool will probably be too warm. Wool flannel sheets can be scratchy at first, but they get softer with continued use.
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 soft, easy to clean, 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 offers the ability to reap the benefits of both fibers: warmth, durability, and reasonable 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. Everyone has different needs, preferences, and budgets. Read on to review important considerations in selecting the best flannel sheets..
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 it’s listed on flannel sheets the most often. The heavier the weight, the warmer the sheets. However, not all manufacturers include the GSM, so shoppers may have to rely on other factors to determine the warmth.
Fabrics generally fall into these weight categories:
- Lightweight: 30 to 150 GSM
- Medium-weight: 150 to 350 GSM
- Heavyweight: 350+ GSM
Most flannel sheets technically fall within the medium-weight category. However, flannel sheets with a fabric rating of 170 GSM or higher, or at least 5 ounces, are heavy, warm, and should 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 the user tends to sleep hot or lives 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. For flannel sheets, a nice drape means that they fit well over the body, yet stay breathable and comfortable.
Flannel is well known for its texture—the fuzzy surface is 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 for shoppers who live in a cold climate, that extra cost may be worth it.
Regardless of the fabric type, the best flannel sheets are undeniably soft. After all, no one wants to sleep on scratchy sheets. Wool and quality cotton flannel sheets 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 setting out to buy the best flannel sheets, 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 are 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 as well as 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 the body. Synthetic flannel sheets also feature a tighter weave that limits air passage. And for hot sleepers, it’s probably best to avoid double-napped sheets.
On the other hand, hot sleepers will want to strongly consider sheets with moisture-wicking properties. Cotton and wool flannel sheets offer the best moisture wicking, but although cotton can wick moisture from the body during sleep, it doesn’t keep users as warm as wool. Those who are prone to sweating in their sleep will want to avoid synthetic sheets. As previously noted, they are cool to the touch, but they don’t wick away moisture and are not very breathable.
Ease of Care
Like other sheets, 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 the bed. These recommendations include some of the best flannel sheets for material, weight, softness, aesthetics, and ease of care.
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 preshrunk, 100-percent organic cotton sheets also have a double-napped finish for added softness and warmth. At 160 GSM, they are in the medium-weight category, making them perfect for year-round use or for hot sleepers who still like the feel of flannel.
We found them to be everything that was promised in the description. They’re comfortable and warm, but they’re not too heavy. We didn’t overheat, and they washed well. After three washes, there was slight pilling, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Mellanni flannel sheets are fade-, stain-, shed-, and wrinkle-resistant, and they won’t shrink after a round in the wash.
- GSM: 160
- Fabric: Cotton
- Weave: Plain/standard
- Soft and comfortable
- Warm without causing overheating
- Certified organic cotton so it’s free of chemicals
- Very slight pilling makes the sheets look a bit more worn
Get the Mellanni 160 GSM flannel sheets on Amazon or Mellanni.
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, and two pillowcases.
While it’s advertised as fitting a 16-inch mattress, we’re not sure that would work with the slight (and expected) shrinking. We tested on an 11-inch mattress, and the fitted sheet was pretty tight. It could possibly fit on a mattress that’s a couple of inches taller, but we doubt it would fit a 16-inch model.
We liked the contemporary prints in this line, which offer a fun alternative to plaid, solid, or novelty-themed flannel sheets. However, we wish they had a few more print options at this particular fabric weight, but there are other print options in different weights.
We also appreciated that the flat sheet offered extra yardage to accommodate for shrinkage, something the fitted sheet did not appear to provide. That said, those who want a heavy-weight flannel sheet set that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg will want to consider this budget-friendly set from Pointehaven.
- GSM: 170
- Fabric: Cotton
- Weave: Twill
- Extra yardage in the flat sheet to accommodate shrinkage
- Minimal shrinking ensures a reliable fit
- Warm and breathable for a comfortable temperature balance
- Not many styles of prints to choose from
Get the Pointehaven flannel sheets at Amazon, Wayfair, or Kohl’s.
Mellanni 100 percent organic cotton flannel sheets are certified according to the Global Organic Textile Standards (same as the other Mellanni sheets listed above), 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.
These Mellanni sheets had quite an odor when we opened the package. We were a bit surprised considering they’re organic; however, we washed them before use and that eliminated the odor. These sheets are certified organic, which means a third-party ensured everything about them is organic.
However, these weren’t the softest flannel sheets we tested. They were a little stiffer out of the dryer, yet some of our testers didn’t mind that. Rather than offering a drapey feel that some sleepers may find overwhelming, these sheets provided crisp, airy coverage. It’s like the difference between a percale and sateen weave in standard cotton sheets: one is crisp while the other drapes. This Mellanni sheet set would work well for those who prefer a percale sheet in the summer; they have a crisp feel but added warmth from the flannel. However, these sheets faded ever so slightly after three washes.
Available in six sizes and a variety of 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. They are machine washable, dryer-safe, and shrink- and wrinkle-resistant.
- GSM: 180
- Fabric: Cotton
- Weave: Twill
- Certified organic by a third-party certifier
- Washes easily with minimal shrinking
- Crisp, airy feel for those who prefer less drape
- Slight fading made sheets less vibrant
- Not as soft as other flannel sheets
Get the Mellanni 180 GSM flannel sheets on Amazon or at Mellanni.
This four-piece set is 190 GSM Turkish cotton that’s designed for winter cold. The weight of the fabric combined with the twill weave gives these sheets more drape than the average flannel sheet, which was something we noticed right away during testing. There’s also a slight nap on both sides, giving them an extra boost of warmth.
We found that they held up well to washing with minimal pilling. The Great Bay Home sheets were the smoothest of the cotton flannel sheets we tested. The queen-size set is supposed to fit mattresses from 14 to 17 inches; however, due to some shrinking, they were a tight fit on our 11-inch mattress. These sheets are super soft and don’t lose that softness with washing.
- GSM: 190
- Fabric: Cotton
- Weave: Twill
- Buttery soft, even after several washings
- Weight and dense weave gave them good drape
- Warm but breathable
- May not fit on taller mattresses due to shrinking
Get the Great Bay Home flannel sheets on Amazon or at Great Bay Home.
Shavel Home Products 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 in comparison to cotton flannel.
These sheets are thin and provide the right amount of warmth during the cold months. They’re definitely lighter than the cotton sheets we tested and less breathable. However, we didn’t find them overly warm, even though one of our testers sleeps warm. There was no pilling with this microfiber, and they looked as good coming out of the dryer as they did going into the washing machine. Plus, they’re super easy to wash and don’t wrinkle like cotton.
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.
- GSM: NA
- Fabric: Polyester
- Weave: Twill
- Suitable for year-round use
- Retained their color after several washes
- No pilling
- Not quite as breathable as cotton
Get the Shavel Home Products flannel sheetson Amazon or Shavel Home Products.
In addition to premium outerwear, Eddie Bauer offers home bedding and other home decor. The company’s 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.
In testing, they were warm and had a decent drape. We also found that they didn’t shrink as much as other cotton flannel sheets. They left room to spare on the 11.5-inch mattress on which they were tested. That made putting on the fitted sheet much easier, which is a bonus for kids’ sheets.
Sure, these sheets will keep the kiddos warm on cold nights, but what sets them apart are the fun prints. They 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.
- GSM: 165
- Fabric: Cotton
- Weave: Twill
- Comes in fun seasonal and animal prints
- Soft, warm flannel for a cozy night’s sleep
- Deep fitted sheets fit many mattress thicknesses
Get the Eddie Bauer flannel sheets at Amazon, Target, or The Home Depot.
Great Bay Home 4-Piece Cotton Flannel Sheet – Nordic
These Great Bay Home sheets were a disappointment from the start. They were badly pilled from the moment we opened the package. They pilled excessively where we laid on them while sleeping. After they were washed, they had shrunk so badly they barely fit on a 13-inch king- size mattress, even though they were designed to fit one up to 17 inches thick. It was a hard pass on these sheets.
Bare Home Flannel Cotton Sheet Set
The Bare Home sheets were harder to pass by. They felt great and were warm, and they’re also free of harmful chemicals, but a seam ripped on the pillowcase after one washing. It wasn’t a small rip, either, and the pillowcase basically disintegrated in our hands. The rip could have been a fluke, but we couldn’t put these on the list if there’s a risk of weak seams.
The Mellanni flannel sheets are where quality and comfort meet. They’re breathable, and they’re durable enough for long-term use. For cozy flannel sheets for little ones that come in a wide variety of adorable prints, we really liked Eddie Bauer flannel sheets.
How We Tested the Best Flannel Sheets
The flannel sheets on our list were tested and scored according to a rubric. All sheets were prewashed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. We monitored shrinking during the washing process. We also noted how much pilling took place after the initial wash. The sheets were then slept on for at least 1 night, though a few sets were slept on more than once. The outside temperatures were in the 40s, while the inside temperatures stayed in the high 50s to low 60s in the bedroom.
The sheets were tested on mattresses of the following heights based on the sheet size:
- Twin: 11.5-inch mattress
- Queen: 11-inch mattress
- King: 13-inch mattress
The sheets were then washed at least three times in total to check pilling, fading, and texture. We took note of how much lint the sheets shed as well as the strength of the seams, which can be a weak point for flannel. We then scored them based on their performance.
Flannel sheets can keep sleepers 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 home 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 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.
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