Pros and Cons Of Flannel Sheets

The word flannel may immediately bring to mind the picture of a woodsman with an ax, chopping wood for the winter. But flannel is more than just the standard pattern that most people think of. Flannel is actually not a pattern or even one specific fiber at all - it's a fuzzy finished fabric that comes in various materials and patterns. This unique texture is soft and comfortable, a great choice for sheets. So should you invest in a set of flannel sheets for yourself? We've researched to find out all the pros and cons of this wintertime favorite.
Flannel sheets have many pros and cons, including:
  • The material is warm and soft.
  • Flannel sheets are breathable and more absorbent than many other fabrics.
  • They are durable and last a long time.
  • They are easy to care for and clean and don't wrinkle easily.
  • Flannel is affordable, and sheets are available at a variety of prices.


  • Pure cotton sheets will shrink slightly (flannel sheets made from cotton-blend or other materials do not have this problem).
  • Flannel tends to run or bleed in color.
  • Sheets made of flannel tend to pill with time (but this can be avoided with special care).
  • For some people, flannel is just too hot to be comfortable at night.

Read more to learn what, exactly, makes a sheet flannel and more details about the pros and cons of flannel. We'll discuss how to prevent problems such as sheets shrinking, pilling, or running in color. This article will also cover how to pick the best flannel sheets and properly launder them.

White bedding flannel sheets and pillow, Pros and Cons Of Flannel Sheets

What Are The Pros Of Flannel?

Some people picture the ubiquitous pattern associated with flannel when they hear the word. Others associate flannel with cotton. However, flannel comes in various patterns and can be made from cotton, wool, or a variety of other synthetic fibers or blends. What makes it flannel is the fuzzy finish on one or both sides of the material. This is made by brushing over the fabric, which loosens and lifts the fibers, creating a unique soft texture.

This method makes flannel warm, soft, and breathable. Sweat is quickly wicked away by the material so that you can be both warm and comfortable with flannel sheets. It's also strong and durable (there's a reason we think of lumberjacks wearing flannel, after all).

Red plaid flannel long sleeves shirt

Flannel comes in a variety of patterns and is available in a range of prices. No matter what your budget is, you can find something you can afford in flannel.

Baby bed sheets and flannel sheets folded and stacked neatly

Since most flannel is made from a cotton blend, it's easy to care for with standard laundering. No fancy dry cleaning for flannel sheets - just a basic wash and dry is enough to keep them soft and comfortable for a long time. It also doesn't wrinkle easily, so you don't have to take special care of your flannel sheets to be able to fool everyone else into thinking you do.

What Are The Cons Of Flannel?

Flannel sheets don't come with very many problems, but there are a few. First of all, sheets made from pure cotton will shrink. This is a problem with all sheets made from cotton, not just flannel. This is easy to avoid, however. Just pick sheets made from a cotton blend or another material (anything but 100% cotton). If you already have 100% cotton sheets, that's okay. Just keep reading - we'll cover how to prevent shrinking in the cleaning instructions below.

Another complaint about flannel is the extra heat. While the material is breathable and absorbent, it's warm. For some people, it's just too warm. If you're already a hot sleeper, or if you live in a warm climate, flannel might be just too much. There's a fine line between feeling cozy and feeling stifled, after all.

The dye or colors in flannel sheets tend to run, and there's also a tendency for flannel to pill. However, both of these problems can be alleviated with proper care in the washing and drying process.

How Do You Keep Flannel Sheets From Pilling?

Lint balls or fuzz balls on white and brown fabric

Pilling is a common foe for flannel sheets. It occurs when the brushed fabric starts to lift up and form small balls of material. Though it occurs most frequently in flannel, cotton or linen sheets can pill as well. If you're concerned about pilling, one trick is to avoid cotton-polyester blends. They tend to be lower quality and pill the most.

Other than picking the right blend of material, proper washing is the best way to avoid pilling.

  • First, add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the wash along with the detergent. This will help prevent all three of the common laundering problems - shrinking, color running, and pilling. 
  • Do not use fabric softener.
  • Use a mild, gentle detergent.
  • Only wash in lukewarm or cool water. 
  • Try to wash sheets alone; don't mix with other fabrics, which may rub against sheets and raise the brushed fibers. This will, as a result, increase or cause pilling.

If pilling is still a concern, you can also use a fabric shaver to remove the little fabric balls left on the sheets. Try this rechargeable one by Magictec:

Click here to see this fabric shaver on Amazon.

How Often Should You Wash Flannel Sheets?

Flannel sheets, like all sheets, should be washed every week or two. Bed sheets accumulate lots of gross stuff that can't be seen by the naked eye, like body oils and sweat, dead skin, dust mites, and more. Flannel is durable and long-lasting, and overwashing isn't much of a concern. As long as you follow the proper recommendations above to prevent pilling, you won't have frequent washing problems. 

Can You Put Flannel Sheets In The Dryer?

If you have an option to air dry your flannel sheets, it's preferable. Sheets in the dryer do tend to rub, which increases pilling. As the surface of the sheets rubs against itself in the dryer, it raises the already brushed fibers on the surface of the sheets. Eventually, they break down, and the fabric starts pilling. 

A yellow cloths peg on a washing line with a blue flannel sheet and blue sky background

If you have to put the sheets in the dryer, at least don't put them in with any other fabrics or materials. Again, different materials rubbing against the surface of the sheets can only lead to the fabric pilling. You can still add a few tennis balls, though, which may prevent pilling. Don't use dryer sheets and, finally, avoid over-drying.

How To Pick Flannel Sheets?

Most sheets are sold by thread count, but flannel is instead measured in weight. Flannel comes in ounces per square meter (or grams, in metric measurements). Higher quality sheets will be at least five ounces per square meter. This is equal to 170 grams per square meter, or, abbreviated, gsm. 

As a general rule, the more ounces per square meter, the higher quality the sheets. However, it is possible to reach a point where the flannel weight is no longer useful - it's heavy and cumbersome. This is a matter of personal taste and preference, but just keep in mind that more is not always better when it concerns your flannel sheets' weight.

And once you've picked out your new sheets, be sure to wash them first.

A stack of folded new flannel bed sheets on the table

Are Flannel Sheets Worth It?

Obviously, whether or not using flannel sheets is worth it is a matter of opinion. For someone with joint pain, relieved by the comfort and warmth of new flannel sheets, it may be one of the best purchases they could make. On the other hand, someone in an already tropical climate, who tends to be a hot sleeper, will probably find little use for flannel.  If you're looking for something else, try reading: "13 Types of Bed Sheet Fabrics."

It is worth noting that many people find they can reduce their heating cost and lower their thermostat with flannel sheets. This alone may pay for your flannel sheets, as they aren't terribly expensive.

However, for the best results, don't pick the cheapest sheets you can find. Look for something that is:

  • Made of a cotton or cotton blend (but not polyester)
  • Double-napped or brushed on both sides.
  • Weighs around 5 ounces per square meter.

Cheap sheets will not last as long, feel as comfortable, or be as durable after several washes. As a result, those sheets will lead to disappointment that "...they just weren't worth it." While flannel sheets are affordable and can last for a long time, you'll need to pick the right sheets first.

Paisley Print

This paisley print is 170 gsm and double-brushed. Made of 100% cotton and with deep pockets, this will bring a trendy look to any urban bedroom.

Click here to see these sheets on Amazon.

Plaid Flannel

This deep pocket plaid flannel is a classic. Made of 100% cotton and 170 gsm, it comes with a fitted sheet, oversized flat sheet, and two pillowcases.

Click here to see this sheet set on Amazon.

Solid Sheet Set

This set is available in 11 solid colors, so you can pick the right shade for your room. Made of double-brushed cotton for maximum comfort. This set is made with no chemicals and is a great choice for people with sensitive skin.

Click here to see this sheet set on Amazon.

In Conclusion

Flannel sheets are a soft, cozy choice for comfortable and durable wintertime bedding. Flannel sheets are now available in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Other pros of flannel sheets include their absorbent and breathable nature and their ability to last a long time with minimal care.

On the other hand, flannel sheets do sometimes shrink, run in color, or pill. All of these issues can be prevented by washing with a half cup of vinegar and gentle detergent in cool or lukewarm water. Some people also find the warmth produced by flannel to be overpowering, particularly those who are already generally too hot at night or live in a warm climate. However, flannel sheets are very affordable, and most people find them to be a worthwhile and small investment.


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