flannel sheets in red tartan plaid with patchwork cover

Best Flannel Bed Sheets

There are few things as comforting as slipping between super soft, comfy flannel sheets on a cold winter night. But not all flannel is created equal.

flannel sheets in red tartan plaid with patchwork cover


The problem with flannel and other raised fiber fabrics like fleece and knits is the heartbreak of “pills” — those little raised balls that develop, creating a lumpy surface. The solution to the pilling problem with flannel sheets is twofold: Opt for high-quality flannel, and take steps to prevent pilling.

Quality Flannel

Quality flannel is not cheap. You could spend the outrageous price of $400 or more for a set of high-quality flannel sheets with a luxury brand name, or you could opt for something of quality with a much more affordable price tag.

Flannel sheets are not measured by thread count but rather by the weight of the material. Look for flannel sheets that are rated at least 155 gsm (grams per square meter, the metric measurement of fabric weight). And even though the very best flannel is manufactured in Portugal, other options deserve consideration.


Jcpenney north pole brand flannel sheets sitting in a stackBest Inexpensive

Our pick for Best Inexpensive flannel sheet set currently available is JCPenney’s North Pole Trading Co. Flannel Sheet Set (www.jcpenney.com).

These flannel sheets are nicely manufactured, offer excellent quality, and are resistant to pilling. An excellent budget-friendly option.

Not made in USA or in Portugal, but rather the country of origin is stated as “Imported.”

Prices start at $32.




Costco Portuguese Flannel Sheets are Fantastic!

Costco Members

You’re in luck if you shop at Costco (you don’t have to be a member to shop for many items at costco.com, but you will pay an additional 5% non-member fee and also shipping).

Costco’s Pendleton Flannel 4-piece Sheet Sets (3-piece for size Twin) are fabulous in every way and amazingly bargain-priced.

Available both in-warehouse and online now (a seasonal item), these sheets are pre-shrunk, double brushed, made in Turkey, and the fabric is rated 160-165 gsm. Available in Full, Queen, King, and Twin.

Prices start at $28.

Not a Costco member? You can join Costco here to avoid paying that non-member fee. Your membership is valid both in-warehouse and online at Costco.com.



Beautiful Portuguese Flannel Sheets LLBean

More Luxurious Option

L.L.Bean Premium Supima Flannel Sheets, available at www.llbean.com. These premium Supima cotton flannel sheets feel softer and plusher than any other flannel sheets we’ve tested. Even after years of use, they’ve become even better.

100% Supima® cotton flannel is 50% stronger than other cotton varieties. Manufactured in Portugal. Not available in Twin size.

Prices start at $199. 


Prevent Pilling

Three main enemies can lead to the pilling of even the highest-quality flannel:

1. Friction

The physical rubbing of the flannel fabric against itself during a vigorous wash cycle is the main culprit that causes the pilling of flannel sheets. Low-quality flannel will pill almost immediately, while higher-quality goods will do so over time.

To prevent this, when washing flannel, make sure to turn the pillowcases inside out and opt for a gentle cycle. The agitation will be much slower, reducing the amount of friction on the fabric.

2. Hot water

Flannel should be washed in cool to warm water, never hot water, which opens the fibers to pilling.

3. Liquid fabric softener

It might make sense that adding a liquid fabric softener to the rinse cycle will result in softer flannel sheets, but the opposite is true. Liquid fabric softener increases the likelihood of a pilling effect because it breaks down and weakens the fibers.

Instead, add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the final rinse (simply pour it into the liquid softener reservoir). This helps to rinse away all detergent thoroughly.

When any detergent is allowed to remain in sheets, towels, and other laundry items, those items can come out of the dryer feeling stiff and scratchy.



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3 replies
  1. Laurie B Fahey says:

    Thank you for your daily email tips! Love it! Any suggestions how to find quality flannel sheets for an 18” mattress?? Where to start?
    The suggestions above are only for a fitted sheet that fits a 15” mattress! I’ve looked at the Costco ones and LLBean ones!
    Thanks for any help you can give!

  2. Victoria L. Hall says:

    My problem isn’t pilling, its the flannel gets stiff and kinda rough. This even happens with my flannel pajamas. I bought high quality, organic sheets. I only use warm water with a cold water rinse and vinegar. The longer I use them the stiffer they get! Long gone is that soft, cuddly feel when I first started using them. Any thoughts?

    • Mary Hunt says:

      I’m guessing you add some kind of detergent as well? More than likely, way too much soap/detergent. Also, reread about flannel quality. You might want to consider a better quality of flannel by making sure it is Made in Portugal!

      As for your stiffened items, I would put them through a session of laundry stripping, then make sure you are using wool dryer balls in the dryer to help fluff the fibers.


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