When Is the Best Time to Buy Sheets and Towels?

Updated: Mar. 13, 2024

Bookmark this handy cheat sheet to score the best deals on sheets and towels, and you'll save a bundle—this year and every year

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Even if you know how often to wash your sheets and how to wash your towels to keep them clean and fluffy, they will still eventually get old and tattered. It’s a normal part of their life cycle—and a fantastic opportunity for you to find new items, from the best cooling sheets and flannel sheets to the cushiest towels ever. Still, you may not relish the idea of spending a bundle on these household essentials. Well, we have some good news for you: You don’t have to! If you know the best time to buy sheets and towels, you can get the best-quality items at the best possible prices.

The key to scoring a great deal? Planning ahead, of course, and with this handy cheat sheet from Reader’s Digest‘s trusted experts, you can do just that. We’ll also give you the scoop on what to look for when buying bed sheets and towels, the telltale signs that it’s time to replace them and some tips to keep them in tip-top shape so they last longer. While you’re at it, check out this guide on the best time to buy anything, for the best deals on everything. Your bank account will thank you!

When is the best time to buy sheets and towels?

Mark your calendar! Late summer is one of the best times to buy both sheets and bath towels, according to Jessica Ek, senior director of digital communications at the American Cleaning Institute. “August is a good time to buy sheets and towels, since it’s a popular time for moving, whether that’s college students moving into dorm rooms or families moving locations before the next school year,” she says. Plus, many retailers offer end-of-summer and back-to-school sales on these items—and, of course, you can get in on these deals even if you’re staying put or aren’t a coed.

As for the other good time to refresh your linen closet? Whenever your favorite retailers have their biggest sales. For example, Amazon has mega sales on Amazon Prime Day in July, while others retailers have massive Black Friday sales, which are no longer limited to the day after Thanksgiving but instead often last the whole month of November. And for sheets and towels, in particular, another fantastic time to buy is during stores’ white sales, which happen in January.

Best time to buy sheets and towels
Amazon Prime Day, August, November and January

What are white sales?

“White sales date back to the 19th century and are an opportunity for a fresh start to the new year,” Ek explains. “It’s called a white sale since, at that time [in the 19th century], most sheets and towels were white.” These sales traditionally occurred (and still occur) in January, because the start of a new year is a logical time to start fresh—including with bedding and towels.

Depending on the retailer, you can save anywhere between 20% and 75% during these post-holiday sales. For example, last January, Bed Bath & Beyond offered 25% off on bedding and towels, while Bloomingdale’s offered between 50% and 75% off. Often, retailers are filling their clearance section with last season’s items, something customers can capitalize on, since sheets and towels aren’t typically as trendy as clothing styles.

What is the worst month to buy sheets and towels?

There isn’t necessarily a “bad” time to buy new sheets and towels—if you need them, you need them—but if you’re hoping for a bargain, you’ll want to hold out for the white sales, end-of-summer sales or retail-specific sales, as mentioned above. September (after Labor Day) and October are especially slow months for sales, since the majority of retailers are waiting until Black Friday to drop their prices.

Why do you need new sheets and bath towels?

Of course, the other best time to buy sheets and bath towels is simply when you need them. “Over the years, inevitable signs of wear and tear will help alert you to when items need replacing,” says Madeline Miller, a product specialist at The Laundress. “When fabrics start to thin or unravel, or you notice heavy color fading, it might be time to start looking for replacements.”

Miller points out that the more you use your sheets and towels, the sooner they will need to be replaced. For this reason, she says to consider rotating sets of linens to extend fabric life.

What are the signs you need new towels and sheets?

If your towels aren’t as absorbent as they used to be, are stained or smelly, or exhibit visible signs of wear and tear, like frayed edges or holes, it’s time for a new set, says Ek. Similarly, if your sheets have fraying or holes, it’s a sign to retire them. “Also, like towels, watch out for stains and odors that don’t come out in the wash,” she adds. Use this checklist to figure out if it’s time to replace your towels and sheets:

  • Faded colors
  • Fabric thinning
  • Towels not as absorbent
  • Stains or odors that don’t come out, even after washing
  • Frayed edges
  • Holes

What makes quality sheets?

OK, you’re ready to buy new sheets and take advantage of the sales. What should you look for? First, think about what fits your lifestyle. Miller says that white or light-colored sheets look fresh and bright, but darker colors may be preferable for those who are more stain-prone.

Also consider your budget and how long you want your sheets to last. “One hundred percent linen sheets are often more expensive but offer greater longevity. Plus, they become softer with washing and usage,” Miller explains. “Cottons that are blended with synthetic fabrics are a more affordable, durable choice but feel less sumptuous.”

Ek recommends checking out the stitching to make sure the product is high quality and able to withstand regular use and washing. She also recommends reading the fabric-care tag and choosing sheets that are easy to care for. “Beyond that, it is personal preference,” she says, “and some fabrics or weaves will have different benefits in terms of feel and breathability.”

When it comes to thread count (the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric), the Sleep Foundation recommends a thread count between 200 and 800 for optimal sleep. Anything with less than a 200 thread count won’t feel as soft and could make your sleeping experience less pleasant. Beyond that, go with what feels best to you. You might also want to consider picking up a set of silk pillowcases for a luxe feel, not to mention smoother skin and better hair.

What makes quality bath towels?

Similar to when buying sheets, consider your lifestyle when shopping for bath towels. Again, Miller says that white or light towels look fresh and bright, but darker towels hide stains better. In terms of fabric, she recommends towels made with Turkish cotton, because it has longer, denser fibers that offer a rich, luxurious feel.

Ek also likes to check out the stitching on towels. “Look for towels with secure stitching that won’t come undone in the washer,” she says. “The fabric-care tag will also tell you how to launder the material, which should be considered, since this is a frequently washed item.” In terms of fabric, go with cotton if softness is your priority. If you want towels that dry quickly, opt for those made with microfiber. “Size and density are also considerations for comfort and water absorption,” Ek adds.

Where can you buy the best sheets?

There is no shortage of places to buy sheets. If you want to purchase them in person, big retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate & Barrel, Nordstrom, Target and Walmart all have wide selections to choose from—and host great sales. Of course, you can also buy from these retailers online.

For online-only shops with high-quality sheets, try Nectar, Eucalypso Home and Cozy Earth. They’re cult-favorite brands you’re guaranteed to fall in love with.

Where can you buy the best bath towels?

Many of the same retailers that sell high-quality bedding also sell high-quality bath towels. Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, Target, Walmart, Nordstrom, West Elm, Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel all have well-reviewed towels.

For brands that are only available online and that home experts and consumers adore, check out Silk & Snow, Coyuchi, Under the Canopy, Onsen and Garnet Hill.

6 best towel sets and sheets sets

How to make your sheets and towels last

Once you have your new sheets and towels, it’s important to care for them properly so they last as long as possible.

Wash them separately

Though it may save time to wash everything all together, Miller recommends separating sheets and towels, washing them with like colors and also washing them separately from your clothes. “This will avoid bunching and tangling during the wash cycle,” she says. That puts less stress on your sheets and towels during the washing process, helping the fibers to maintain their quality longer. Don’t miss this step-by-step guide on how to do laundry.

Treat stains promptly

If you are able to treat a stain when it happens, do it. “Melt away makeup, body lotion, self-tanner, hair masks and even pet paw marks with a few swipes of a formula designed for oil and grease stains, like this wash and stain bar,” Miller says. “Run the bar under warm water, then work it into a lather using your fingers or a damp stain brush. Using gentle, circular motions, brush the lather into stained spots.” For stains like coffee, tea or wine, you can also try one of these top-rated stain removers and use a similar technique.

Wash towels every three to five uses

In general, Ek says that towels should be washed every three to five uses to prevent a buildup of mold, mildew or germs. If you don’t wash them as frequently, this buildup can make them less clean—not exactly ideal when you’re using it to dry off your body right after a shower. While there’s no harm in washing towels more frequently than every three to five uses, Ek says that there is no need to; it will just create more laundry for you to do.

Use fabric softener sparingly

Over time, you may find that your towels aren’t as absorbent as they used to be. “This is often due to overusing fabric softeners, which can build up on the surface of the towel and repel water,” Miller says. When this happens, use a scented vinegar along with your preferred detergent and hot water. “This step will help to remove buildup, banish lingering odors and naturally soften towels without leaving deposits on the fabric,” she explains.

Wash sheets at least twice a month

Ek says that sheets should be washed at least every other week, and more often if you’re sweating a lot or someone in your household is. And as with anything you wash, be sure to follow the instructions on the care tag, and don’t overload your washer or dryer. Last, it’s helpful to have more than one set of sheets to rotate out to limit wear and tear.

Mark your calendar!

Even though sleep and bathing are part of daily life, it can be easy to neglect your sheets and towels. Buying sets that you love (at a discount, ideally!) will make slipping under the sheets or getting out of a hot shower that much more enjoyable. It truly is the simple things in life.

Now that you know the best time to buy sheets and towels, find out the best time to buy a mattress—and what to look for when shopping for one.