Before we get into all the different materials, we'd like to cover the basics. More precisely, we'd like to talk about how much one bed sheet material can differ from another one and whether you should care. And once we've done that, you'll have a better sense of scale when we start talking about specific features. So, let's get down to business!
Of course, the biggest differentiator is the material used to make the bed sheets. Cotton sheets won't behave in the same way as bamboo sheets. And if we get into specifics, Pima cotton won't behave in the same way as Supima cotton. This might seem confusing at first but it's pretty simple once you know the basics.
But we'll get into every specific material in more detail later on. For now, we just want you to take a mental note. And that's why you should always first look at the material when shopping for new bed sheets! Before the price, the brand, or anything else. After all, if the material doesn't suit your needs, no other feature can make up for it.
Ideally, you also want to look into the product specifications. This is because sheets can sometimes have the phrase “cotton sheets” in the title but actually be mostly synthetic fabric. And there's a big difference in performance between a 100% cotton sheet and a 50/50 synthetic mix. So, keep an eye out!
Although all of the following features will be largely influenced by the material and the weave of the bed sheets, we want to give them special attention. And that's because people might underestimate how important these features are in the long run.
For example, the difference between breathable and non-breathable sheets can completely change your mornings. That's because non-breathable sheets can make it feel like you slept in a microwave. And, realistically, it's difficult to start the morning off right if you wake up in a sweat with your pyjamas/shirt sticking to your back.
Of course, this will be a bigger issue for some than others. And having the best duvet for hot sleepers is just as important as having breathable sheets. But as a general rule of thumb, if you notice that you tend to get hot during the night – look for sheets that will let your skin breathe.
Since this feature usually goes hand-in-hand with breathability, we want to talk about it next. Even with the most breathable sheets, you can still break a sweat when sleeping in the summer or if you share the bed with someone who sleeps hot. And in these cases, having moisture-wicking sheets can be a lifesaver!
Just like the name implies, moisture-wicking refers to the property of certain fabrics to move the moisture away from your body instead of absorbing it. This in turn can then guarantee fresh mornings even during the hottest of nights.
Softness is important for two main reasons. Number one, it largely dictates your comfort level during the night. And this is especially true if you prefer sleeping naked. But as a general rule, the softer the sheets, the easier it will be to snuggle in and get some proper rest.
However, there's another very important aspect so softness. Namely, if you have sensitive skin, rougher sheets can cause some issues. That's because rougher textures can make you break out or have a rash, especially if you tend to toss and turn. And some materials are generally just a lot better at keeping your skin supple than others.
While you typically don't associate bed sheets with luxury, the difference in price can be surprisingly big. In fact, Egyptian cotton sheets, for example, can be double or triple the price of most standard sheets. With that being said, it's usually for good reason.
As we'll discuss later on, how the sheets are made can also vary quite a bit. While some are just made in a factory in 10 minutes, silk sheets take meticulous effort and a lot more time. So, we suggest deciding upfront what you value more – budget-friendly sheets or high-quality sheets.
This is because the last thing you'd want is to get to the store and be paralyzed by the number of options. Decide on a budget ballpark and try to stick to it. And once we get into the specific materials, you'll hopefully be able to gauge how big you want your budget to be based on the differences in performance.
If you know what a thread count means, you might be surprised that it's this low on the list. And for those who haven't heard of this term before, a thread count is the number of threads woven into a square inch of a fabric. And typically, this results in a softer, higher-quality feel.
However, as we discussed in our thread count article, it's not always the end-all-be-all factor. And the best bed sheets don't have to have a high thread count. It's still worth keeping in mind, especially if you know what you're looking for, but the previous features are more indicative of quality most of the time.
While sustainability means very little to some, it can be the biggest selling point for others. So, if you're using a refurbished mattress and don't want any waste to come from your bedding products, some materials are a lot more tempting than others.
When it comes to natural fibres, the most common you'll see are cotton, bamboo and eucalyptus. However, when it comes to cotton bed sheets, look for those that have a certificate for being ethically sourced as there can be bad actors. But if you don't care about keeping the planet green, this shouldn't mean much.
Now we can finally get into the specific materials and see how they stack up. We're going to start things off with cotton sheets as they tend to be the most popular in the mid-to-high range. Plus, they're quite a formidable foe! This is just going to be a general look but if you want a more detailed guide on cotton sheets, we have that as well!
Let's start things off with the positives. While not every cotton bedding set will have all of these pros to the same level, here's what you should typically expect.
Now that we've had an overview of the positives, let's talk about the potential downsides of getting cotton sheets. Again, they don't apply to every type of weave of cotton, so, take that into account.
Since we've already mentioned how there are many different subtypes of cotton sheets, let's do a quick run-through of the 5 main categories and see how they differ from one another.
Fun fact, linen is one of the oldest natural fibres on earth! It has even been said to be the material of choice when creating Roman togas. Of course, even the best linen sheets from back in the day are not nearly as good as the worst ones now. However, it might not be as popular these days as cultivating the flax plant and the subsequent manufacturing process can be quite costly. Nevertheless, here are the pros and cons of linen sheets.
Let's first go over all of the positives of linen sheets. After all, linen is a premium material for bed sheets, so, it's important to know what gives it that status.
Silk bedding has been in the upper echelons of comfort for a while now. However, do you actually know why that is? Well, let's break it all down. And if you want a more in-depth article on why you should get silk sheets, we have an entire article on that topic.
As always, we're going to start off with the pros of getting silk sheets. Just like linen, they're a premium option, so, it's important to know exactly what you're paying for.
Of course, no material is perfect. So, let's quickly go over a few reasons why you should look elsewhere when getting your new sheet set.
While bamboo sheets haven't been around for as long as cotton or linen, they're still rather impressive. And if you're from the UK, we especially recommend taking a look at Panda's bamboo bedding, since they're at the forefront of this fabric.
Since bamboo is relatively new to the game, it's important to know what makes it stick out. So, here are the advantages that come with owning a bamboo bedding set!
Since we gave it so much praise, it can seem like bamboo is the best material for bed sheets! However, it still has a few downsides you should be aware of.
For all intents and purposes, eucalyptus sheets share a lot of features with bamboo sheets. Which, depending on what you thought about the previous segment, is either a big plus or a huge negative. Nevertheless, if you want a more in-depth overlook of eucalyptus bedding, we have the perfect article for you. But here's the gist.
As we've mentioned, eucalyptus shares a lot of the same pros as bamboo. That being said, there are a few differences as well.
Just like with bamboo, eucalyptus has some very tempting benefits. However, there are some aspects that are less than ideal. So, here's what you should consider.
Whether you're getting a flat or a fitted sheet, you're bound to find plenty made from polyester. It's the most common material for bed sheets as it's easy to make and relatively cheap. But should you get them?
If staying below budget is the requirement for getting a good night's sleep, polyester is perfect. However, it does have to make sacrifices in other departments. For example:
Now that we've gone through all the most popular materials used for bed sheets, it's time to answer the titular question. And, as you might have noticed, there's no single clear winner. So, instead of pulling a decision out of thin air, here's what we're going to do. We're going to go through some common selling points that apply to most people and single out the best and worst material for that category.
In conclusion, every material on the market shines in some departments and stumbles in others. So, if you want to know which is the best material for bed sheets, you simply need to identify which feature you care the most about. After all, if there was an objective winner, no other bedding material would still be in production!