1. Balance quality and cost
Don’t use thread count as the sole measure of quality—some companies cram extra threads into cheap bedding so they can charge more. Consider the quality of the fabric as well as the thread count to find something that is both soft and durable. A set of 1200 count Egyptian long staple cotton sheets will certainty feel nice, but they will also cost an arm and a leg. To get the best balance of cost and quality look for fabric that is made from extra-long staple cotton (but not necessarily Egyptian cotton), with a thread count of around 300.
2. Know when to shop
Department stores typically have deep discounts on bed linens and towels during their annual white sales, which are usually held in January. While shopping in January will usually save you the most, many department stores put bedding on clearance throughout the year. The selection may not be as varied in the clearance section, but you can score savings of 50 percent or more. Stores like Kohl's and JCPenney have a good selection of year-round clearance markdowns.
3. Stack coupons and sales
Don't forget to maximize your savings by stacking a coupon with a white sale or clearance price. Check out RetailMeNot for current online coupon codes, and make sure to sign up for Bed Bath & Beyond emails to get 20 percent off coupons sent right to your inbox. If you plan to buy multiple pieces at Bed Bath & Beyond, you can get a coupon for each item, bring the kids and separate transactions and get the maximum discount!
4. Consider a Duvet Cover
Rather than replacing a worn-out comforter, consider saving by sprucing it up with a much less expensive alternative—a duvet cover! Duvets are designed to slide over plain down comforters, but they can just as easily be used to dress up regular poly-filled comforters that have seen better days.
Duvet covers can be pricey at stores like Crate & Barrel, West Elm, or Pottery Barn but are often put on sale. I ended up scoring a king size Koi Fish Duvet Cover at Pottery Barn for only $10 and often see duvets at the Crate and Barrel's Online Outlet for under $50, so it’s worth keeping an eye out at these stores.
Other sources that have reasonably-priced duvet sets are Ikea and H&M Home. Prices range from as little as $29.95 to around $80 for a king-sized set, and the designs are modern and on-trend. Don't feel like you have to sacrifice quality when shopping at these stores. H&M may be less expensive than Pottery Barn, but they still carry both solid linen and organic cotton sets that can give you a taste of luxury for a low cost.
5. Consider color, pattern and filling
Cotton is naturally white, so color and pattern require a lot more processing than lighter colors—which means they may cost more. Also, if you get the pattern of the minute, you may end up with a look that becomes dated and doesn’t stand the test of time. Classic colored solids never go out of style and can always be spiced up with trendy throw pillows.
It’s also important to consider what the filling in your bedding is made of. Down is great but is also very expensive. If you are looking for an upgrade from a polyester-filled comforter but can’t afford down, consider wool. Since wool is a natural fiber it will keep you toasty warm in the winter, but it comes in at a much lower cost than down.
6. Shop the kids department
Kids’ bedding goes way beyond Hello Kitty and Sesame Street. Modern kids’ bedding is super trendy and comes in all sorts of adult patterns like ikat, paisley, damask, geometric, stripes and chevron. The kids’ bedding at high-end stores like Land of Nod and Pottery Barn Teen are typically 30–60 percent cheaper than their adult counterparts Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn. This allows you to get the same designer look and high-end quality at a fraction of the price. Please note that this tip tends to work best if you have a full or queen-sized mattress, since you probably won’t see king-sized bedding at children's stores.
7. Proper care
Once you have invested in some quality linens, you will want to take proper care of them. In general it’s a good idea to wash sheets at least once a week to remove dirt and sweat. Turn pillowcases inside out to prevent fading and use warm water—too high a temperature can cause shrinkage. Opt for an oxygenated bleach alternative (chlorinated bleaches can be too harsh) or dry your whites in the open air and let the sun bleach them back to a bright white. Forgoing your dryer in the summer will save electricity, minimize wear and tear on your linens, and leave your sheets smelling fresh without chemicals.