If you’re in the market for new bedding, you have no doubt experienced the shopper’s dilemma of finding yourself faced with too much of a good thing. These days, you can choose from dozens of different materials for your bed sheets, including cotton, linen, silk, synthetic fabrics, and flannel! How can you determine which one is the best material for bed sheets?
The best material for bed sheets in terms of luxury are silk and long-staple cotton such as Pima cotton, while cotton and microfiber are the most popular and widely-sold affordable bed sheet materials. Other factors like thread count, the type of weave, and temperature regulating abilities can also impact the comfort of a bedsheet fabric.
In this article, you’ll learn which bed sheet material works best if you sleep hot or cold, if you’re on a tight budget, and if you need a durable type of bedding. Of course, you’ll also get some great comparisons to help you decide what is the best kind of bed sheet material for your home!
Best Material for Bed Sheets
Some of the most popular materials for bed sheets include cotton, polycotton, bamboo, silk, linen, flannel, and microfiber. Let’s take a quick look at the key characteristics of each kind of fabric.
Cotton remains a perennial favorite for all types of bedding because of its softness and breathability. It usually lands in the middle of the road on pricing, coming between super-affordable synthetic fabrics and far more pricey natural fabrics like silk.
Typically, all types of cotton provide excellent breathability. That said, you can find several different kinds of cotton in bedsheets, and each one has its own pros and cons.
Pima CottonPima cotton originated in Peru, and much of the limited global production today still takes place there. This specialty cotton features long staples that give it strong, flexible, and incredibly soft fibers. You may find yourself wondering if you’re actually touching silk the first time you feel Pima cotton because it has such an amazing softness!
Another benefit to this type of cotton is that it lasts much longer than regular cotton, given the proper care. This durability stems from Pima cotton’s long fibers, which are 50% longer than typical cotton fibers!
Nothing good comes without a price, though, and Pima cotton comes with quite a price tag, usually just slightly under the cost of Egyptian cotton. This specialty fabric also requires gentle care and air drying to maintain its long life.
Here’s a great set of Pima sheets to give you an idea of what to expect with this bedding.
SupimaSupima cotton takes all the advantages of Pima cotton to the next level. It has even longer and softer fibers and is considered the rarest form of cotton in the world, grown only by a few select, licensed locations in the United States. It costs twice as much as Pima cotton, and you will see it for sale more often for high-end clothing than for bedding because of its price tag!
If you can afford this ultra-luxurious type of bedsheets, you will find them softer than you can imagine! Think of the difference between the feel of a piece of rough canvas and a normal cotton t-shirt. That difference in texture between normal cotton and Supima cotton is equally extreme!
Plus, with very delicate care, this cotton lasts longer than any other kind. You may have to make a giant investment to purchase anything made of Supima, but it will last for many years!
Of course, the downside to this soft opulence is that this kind of cotton costs twice as much as Pima cotton. You’re looking at paying almost as much as you would for pure silk bedding!
If you want to shop this high-end bedding, here’s a link to Supima Cotton Sheets!
Egyptian CottonThe special qualities of Egyptian cotton come from where it grows and its careful harvesting process. The climate in Egypt provides a perfect hot, dry growing temperature for cotton. On top of that, Egyptian cotton is carefully hand-picked to maintain the soft strands of its fluffy and long fibers.
You have to use some detective work while buying Egyptian cotton sheets, though. Because it’s fairly rare and quite expensive, lots of less-than-honest brands may try to sell cheaper forms of cotton and label them Egyptian cotton.
You will also find that the price of Egyptian cotton bedding can vary widely depending on the thread count and whether or not this expensive cotton is blended with another, cheaper type of cotton.
Like Pima and Supima sheets, Egyptian cotton requires careful washing. You will need to wash the sheets in cold water and either air dry them or set your dryer to a low-heat setting to avoid shrinking them. If you’re careful, these sheets may last more than a decade!
Take a look at this link to get an idea of what to look for in a set of Egyptian cotton sheets.
UplandUpland cotton is by far the most widely grown and affordable variety of cotton. Any time you see a set of sheets labeled simply as “cotton,” you can expect that they are made with upland cotton! This more affordable type of cotton features shorter fibers and is less soft and less durable than luxury cotton.
As with any kind of bedsheets, the quality of upland cotton bed sheets can vary dramatically. A higher thread count will give you softer, more durable sheets.
That said, it’s hard to go wrong with even a basic set of cotton sheets. Cotton is super breathable, gets softer with every wash, and absorbs moisture well. Plus, regular cotton bedding won’t cost you an arm and a leg–you can usually find a nice set for under a hundred dollars!
The downside to upland cotton is that it can wear out or pill after long use. It also has that crisp cottony feel to it instead of the silky quality of luxury cotton.
Check out this set of 400 thread count cotton sheets on Amazon!
MicroCottonMicroCotton is an innovative long-staple cotton grown in India and specially processed to make it extra absorbent. It has longer fibers than upland cotton, and is still fairly rare, like Supima cotton. In fact, it’s pretty hard to find MicroCotton bedding for sale.
That said, if you suffer from night sweats, you may find it worth your effort to track down a set of MicroCotton sheets! They undergo an advanced spinning process that makes them as much as 250% more absorbent than upland cotton.
As you might expect of anything produced in limited quantities, these sheets tend to cost more than upland cotton sheets.
Micro Cotton bedding is only available from select sellers, but here is a product to give you an idea of what these sheets are like!
PolycottonPolycotton bedding blends synthetic polyester fibers together with natural cotton fibers to create a hardy, fairly soft sheet. Ideally, polycotton combines the best qualities of each kind of fabric to create a unique and useful new material.
Many hospitals and economy hotels use polycotton sheets because the synthetic polyester fibers make the fabric super durable. It’s quite difficult to rip, tear, or wear out a good-quality polycotton! Polycotton with a higher thread count can feel similar to upland cotton, too, though it may not feel quite as soft to the touch.
Another advantage to using a tough blended fabric is that they allow very easy care. You can throw polycotton sheets in your washer and dryer with no worries of shrinking. Plus, the polyester makes this material wrinkle-resistant!
Because polyester costs so much less to manufacture than many natural fabrics, poly-cotton costs less than 100% cotton.
The downside to this popular blended material is that polyester is nonporous, making these sheets less breathable than 100% cotton bed sheets.
Take a look at this polycotton sheet set!
BambooBamboo sheets, believe it or not, feature some of the softest material you can find for bedding! This fabric has excellent moisture-wicking and temperature regulating abilities and also features a light, silky, and soft weave that offers as much breathability as cotton.
Unlike many other environmentally harmful types of fabric manufacturing that require dangerous chemicals and tons of water, bamboo fabric production also offers a relatively eco-friendly option for consumers. On top of that, bamboo sheets offer a hypoallergenic alternative for anyone with sensitive skin!
Bamboo sheets do require specialized care and careful washing, though they can last five to six years with proper treatment. It’s actually quite common to see a bamboo and cotton blend to help make the fabric more durable and longer-lasting.
In terms of pricing, bamboo sheets usually cost more than upland cotton but less than Egyptian cotton.
Here’s a luxurious set of bamboo sheets to give you a comparison!
SilkSilk sheets offer the ultimate luxury for your bedroom, but they come with a pretty astronomical price tag that the average shopper may not want to consider. Silk sheets feature low heat conduction that allows the fabric to provide cooling relief in hot weather and warmth in cold weather. The strong, lightweight, and glossy fabric also looks lovely with its glossy sheen.
Silk sheets also offer excellent breathability. You can wash them at home so long as you use cold water. In fact, they grow softer after the first couple of washes.
The durability and softness of silk sheets depend on something called the momme count. This basically describes the weight and thickness of the silk. You should look for a momme count of 19-33 for good-quality silk sheets.
Besides the fact that the average set of silk sheets costs upwards of $400, silk production does regularly get slammed by animal rights advocates because the process kills the pupae that create the silk-thread cocoons.
Whatever the cost, silk is undoubtedly the softest and most opulent choice for bed sheets. Check out this link to get an idea of what to look for in a silk bed sheet set!
This costly but lexquisite set of silk sheets will give you an idea of the price range of these luxury items!
LinenLike cotton sheets, linen sheets come from natural, plant-grown fibers. Linen sheets typically sell for a little over $100 and feature excellent breathability and a thicker weave than most cotton sheets. They also last longer than most natural fabrics and grow softer with each wash.
If you like a farmhouse, homespun style, linen sheets may give you exactly what you want! They offer lots of health benefits such as breathability and hypoallergenic properties.
Unfortunately, linen sheets are not wrinkle-resistant. Even careful washing will leave them in a ball of creases and wrinkles!
The biggest downside to linen sheets, though, is that they have a rougher texture than cotton and don’t provide a very soft sleeping surface until you wash them multiple times.
These breathable, country-farmhouse-style sheets look pretty comfortable!
FlannelFlannel sheets provide the warmest of all the bedding options. Flannel sheets usually sell as two different kinds of fabric: brushed cotton or the cheaper, synthetic version, micro flannel.
Both types of fabric get their fuzzy warmth from a manufacturing process called napping that rolls the fabric across bristly steel cylinders. This causes tiny fibers to break loose and rise to the surface. The velvety raised nap traps body heat and keeps you toasty warm all night long.
Does it matter if you buy cotton flannel or micro flannel? Well, micro flannel is brushed polyester, which is affordable and warm but lacks breathability. Cotton flannel, on the other hand, can feel slightly scratchier but does provide breathability.
Either way, you should know that with flannel sheets, weight matters more than thread count. Flannel sheets marked 5 oz will give you a nice thickness and warmth for your bed.
Flannel sheets can go in a regular wash cycle, though they do eventually mat or pill after a lot of washes.
Take a look at these cozy cotton flannel sheets!
MicrofiberMicrofiber bed sheets are made from very fine polyester fibers that weigh less than one denier, which is a special measurement used to describe the weight of one strand of silk. In other words, microfiber is a synthetic fabric so light that it weighs less than silk!
Microfiber sheets offer the greatest benefit of polyester fabric. They allow super easy care, they are wrinkle-resistant, last a long time, and resist pilling and fading.
A higher thread count of around 200-800 will give you a softer and more durable kind of microfiber. Cheaper microfiber can rip or wear out quickly in the wash.
Microfiber sheets offer a great economy option for a soft, comfy night’s sleep. That said, they can feel hot and sticky because they are not breathable like cotton. On the other hand, if you suffer from night sweats, you will love the moisture-wicking properties of this synthetic fabric!
This best-selling set of microfiber sheets is a great, affordable option!
PolyesterPolyester bed sheets come in a wide range of quality and are best known for their affordability. Polyester fabric is made from petroleum by-products in a chemical process. Essentially, polyester is plastic turned into cloth!
Despite that, polyester bedsheets can actually feel extremely soft, and in the past several decades they have taken over a large percentage of the bedding market, usually in competition to cotton sheets.
The cool thing about polyester is that it can mimic many different types of fabric, from velvet to satin to silk! Manufacturers use different techniques to create things like a sateen weave pattern, which lifts three threads over every one yarn beneath for a super lustrous, satiny surface.
Like many synthetic fabrics, though, polyester is not breathable. But it does provide great moisture-wicking abilities and with a higher thread count, it can feel quite soft. It also lays claim to ultra-durability, since its plastic fibers do not easily break down or pill.
On top of that, polyester is wrinkle-resistant and allows easy care in your washer and dryer.
Take a look at these satiny polyester sheets!
What is Thread Count?
Thread count describes the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric, including the threads that run both longways and crossways. Generally speaking, a higher count indicates a softer material for bed sheets. Different kinds of fabric feel most comfortable with varying thread counts.
For example, microfiber and cotton bed sheets feel best with a thread count ranging from 200-800. Linen sheets typically have a thread count of under 150, though!
Besides thread count, you should know a few other terms that manufacturers use to describe the quality of bedsheets. In a way, the world of bed sheets kind of has its own secret language!
As you now know, thread count describes how many vertical and horizontal threads fill one square inch of a piece of fabric. More threads create a denser, softer surface for the material.
Different types of bed sheets feel better with a varying range of thread counts.
Grams Per Square Meter
Grams per square meter, or GSM, describes the density of a piece of cloth by measuring how much one meter of the fabric weighs.
This term usually applies to microfiber. In fact, if you can find the GSM in the product description or on the label, you will have a better idea of how soft the microfiber really is!
A good GSM for microfiber sheets is anything over 100 GSM.
Denier is a unit of measurement based on how much one fiber of silk weighs. It’s often used to describe microfibers, which by definition must weigh less than one denier!
However, it’s also helpful any time you want to look into knit fabrics, such as jersey knit bed sheets.
If you can afford to buy silk sheets, you need to know that the term momme describes the quality of silk. It’s more important than thread count for this material, as it tells you how thick and smooth the silk is. It also indicates how durable the silk sheets will be.
For silk sheets, anything between 19-33 momme will give you excellent quality.
Things to Consider When Choosing Best Bed Sheet Material
If you go by price, the best and most luxurious bed sheet materials are Pima, Supima, and Egyptian cotton, and silk, while the most popular material for bed sheets are cotton and microfiber. That said, you have a unique style and budget that will ultimately determine which bed sheet material is best for you.
You should consider a lot of factors on your quest for the perfect sheet.
1. Read everything you can find in the product description or on the product label to find out what kind of fibers the sheets are made of. The label might say “cotton” in big letters on the front of the package, but if you read the fine print, you may discover that it’s actually a blend of cotton and polyester!
2. Check the size and fitting of the sheets. If you have a tall mattress, you may need sheets with deep pockets to fit your bed. Likewise, check to see if a sheet comes with both a fitted sheet and a flat sheet.
Besides the kind of fabric and style of sheets, try to find out what kind of weave pattern the sheets have. Sateen weave will give you a luxurious satiny feel, while twill or percale offers you a crisper, grid-like pattern.
3. Match your personal preferences to the unique characteristics of every type of fabric.
After reading this article, you know that each kind of fabric has its own pros and cons. If you really want breathable sheets, you should buy a natural fabric like cotton or linen. If you want moisture-wicking fabric, you may want to consider microfiber or polyester.
Most Comfortable Bedding Material
Cotton is usually considered the all-around most comfortable bedding material because it is soft, durable, breathable, and relatively affordable. Of course, as you now know, the ultimate luxurious material is silk, followed closely by Egyptian and Supima cotton. Poly-cotton often ranks highly as the most comfortable but less expensive option as well.
All of that aside, it’s quite tricky to claim that any particular fabric is “most comfortable.” Comfort depends on your own particular preferences and needs. If you have allergies, the most comfortable fabric for you may be a material that is hypoallergenic instead of a fabric that is necessarily the most soft!
Likewise, if you dislike feeling clammy while you sleep, you may want to focus on finding a breathable fabric for your bedding, as that may matter more to you than softness.
Most Durable Fabric for Sheets
Polycotton, polyester, and microfiber are the most durable fabric for sheets. This does depend somewhat on the thread count or GSM of the sheet, though. Higher thread count or higher GSM indicates a thicker, more dense weave that will hold up well through years of washing.
In general, man-made fabrics last longer than natural fabrics. They also feature textile innovations like moisture-wicking capabilities. They allow easy care and are stain and pilling resistant, and are also usually wrinkle resistant.
What are the Healthiest Bedsheets?
Bamboo and cotton usually rank highly as healthy bed sheet options because of their breathable construction and the absence of toxic chemicals in their production. Another factor you may want to consider is whether or not the natural fibers are produced organically in an eco-friendly process.
Bamboo has great anti-microbial properties besides its breathability and generally eco-friendly production. Organic cotton also offers a more eco-friendly alternative to regular cotton growing practices, though some environmentalists argue that the growing process and production require too much water.
in terms of a healthy night’s sleep, bamboo offers the greatest health benefits as well as a feather-soft weave and great temperature regulation.
Material for Sheets to Keep You Cool
Breathable materials like cotton usually rank highly as sheets that keep you cool. The best material for sheets to keep you cool offers either extremely good moisture-wicking abilities or great breathability.
Once in a while, you can find both of these qualities combined together, like in bamboo sheets! Usually, though, you have to choose your preference.
For example, cotton sheets are breathable. But they absorb moisture and stay wet for a long time, which would not be ideal for a cool sleep.
Polyester or microfiber sheets wick moisture away and allow it to evaporate into the air, but they also seal in heat because they are not breathable.
Bed Sheet Material for Hot Sleepers
On the other side of things, if you like to stay warm and cozy during the night, you will want to look into flannel or microfiber. Flannel is a great option for cold weather or chilly climates because its brushed nap traps thousands of tiny air pockets full of your warm body heat.
For slightly less extreme cool weather, you may like microfiber or polyester. They also trap heat and offer a smooth and soft weave at a lower price.
The softest materials for bed sheets are silk and luxury cotton such as Pima and Egyptian cotton. Soft and more affordable bedding materials include poly cotton and microfiber. The thread count, weight, and style of weave will also impact the comfort of your bedsheets.
Finally, doing a bit of research into the product description before you make a purchase can make a big difference! Make sure you investigate to find out how well the product fits your personal needs so you can make your bed as comfortable as possible.
What is the most comfortable kind of bed sheet you have ever slept on? Leave a comment below to let us know!