Most people spend significant time researching pillows and mattresses, but when it comes to bed sheets, they buy the cheapest ones they can find.
Buying low-cost bed sheets is a massive mistake because bed sheets have just as much if not more impact on sleep comfort. If you’ve ever spent the night at a fancy hotel with expensive sheets, you understand what I’m saying.
So, what is the best material for bed sheets? Cotton? If so, which type of cotton? Silk? Polyester? Flannel? Linen? A blend of various materials?
In this article, I compare the top 11 best materials for bed sheets and explain the pros and cons of each. Plus, I share the latest innovations in bed sheet materials. By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to decide which material is best for you.
Let’s jump right in!
Click the links below to jump to a section.
- Best Material for Bed Sheets: Comparison Chart
- Upland Cotton
- Egyptian Cotton
- Pima Cotton
- Supima® Cotton
- Bonus: The Latest Innovation in Bed Sheet Materials
- What Does Thread Count Mean and Why Does It Matter?
- Does Weave Type Matter?
- The Verdict: What Is the Best Material for Bed Sheets?
Best Material for Bed Sheets: Comparison Chart
Click the “+” to see the higest-rated sheets for each material.
|Material||Pros||Cons||Highest-Rated Sheets Made From This Material||View on Amazon|
|Upland Cotton||Inexpensive, soft, widely available||Made with short fiber cotton, likely to pill||California Design Den||Amazon|
|Egyptian Cotton||Strong, soft, flexible, breathable||Expensive, many knock-offs||Comfy Sheets||Amazon|
|Pima Cotton||Strong, soft, flexible, grown in US||Expensive, often blended with regular cotton||Peru Pima||Amazon|
|Supima Cotton||Strong, comfortable, retains color, US grown, hypoallergenic||Very expensive||Threadmill Home Linen||Amazon|
|Flannel||Extremely warm, inexpensive||Too heavy for warm seasons, not breathable||Ruvanti||Amazon|
|Silk||Extremely soft, comfortable, naturally hypoallergenic||Very expensive, requires delicate care||ElleSilk||Amazon|
|Tencel||Absorbs moisture extremely well||Not 100% hypoallergenic||Royal Hotel||Amazon|
|Bamboo||Soft and silky, durable, breathable||Not 100% natural (chemicals used to process the bamboo fibers)||Hotel Sheets Direct||Amazon|
|Linen||Extremely strong, gets more comfortable over time||Feels slightly stiff, wrinkles easily||DAPU||Amazon|
|Polyester||Inexpensive, durable, stain and wrinkle-resistant||Does not absorb water, less cooling||Mellanni||Amazon|
Unless you see Egyptian, Pima or Supima on the label, you are likely buying Upland cotton.
Upland is the most widely grown cotton in the world and is used for the majority of standard bed sheets and other cotton clothing.
Upland cotton fibers are not as long as Egyptian, Pima, or Supima, which means the Upland cotton sheets aren’t as soft, durable, or flexible.
The main advantage is that Upland cotton is significantly cheaper than the premium, long fiber types.
The main disadvantage—the shorter fibers of Upland cotton are more likely to break out of the weave, causing pilling and a coarser texture.
- Significantly less expensive than Egyptian, Pima, and Supima.
- Still very soft, comfortable, and breathable.
- Widely available.
- Made with short fiber cotton that is rougher and less durable.
- More likely to pill and become coarse over time.
Highest-rated Upland Cotton Bed Sheets:
- California Design Den 400 Thread Count 100% Cotton Sheets (view on Amazon)
- California Design Den 600 Thread Count 100% Cotton Sheets (view on Amazon)
- Pinzon 300 Thread Count Organic Cotton Bed Sheets (view on Amazon)
Egyptian cotton sheets, as the name suggests, are made from cotton grown in Egypt.
The properties of Egyptian cotton are different from cotton grown in other areas of the world because of the climate and the way it is harvested.
Egypt has a warm and dry climate, which is ideal for cotton.
Additionally, Egyptian cotton is handpicked, which causes less stress on the fibers and keeps them straight and long. Unlike regular cotton, which is harvested by machine, Egyptian cotton maintains extra-long fibers that result in a softer and more flexible fabric.
Egyptian cotton is expensive and considered a luxury. But, if you have the budget, it is one of the best materials you can buy.
These are my favorite Egyptian cotton sheets from Comfy Sheets (link to Amazon). They are incredibly soft and surprisingly affordable.
- Stronger, softer, and more flexible than regular cotton.
- Porous, which makes it breathable and comfortable.
- Handpicked which guarantees the highest level of purity.
- It is considered a luxury material because of its superior comfort.
- Expensive. A set of Egyptian cotton sheets can cost anywhere from $100 to thousands depending on the size and thread count.
- Many manufacturers claim to use Egyptian cotton, but instead, use knock-offs or blends of Egyptian and standard cotton.
Highest-rated Egyptian Cotton Bed Sheets:
- Comfy Sheets 1000-Thread Count 100% Egyptian Cotton Sheets (view on Amazon)
- True Luxury 1000-Thread-Count 100% Egyptian Cotton Bed Sheets (view on Amazon)
- Mayfair Linen 800-Thread 100% Egyptian Cotton Sheets (view on Amazon)
Similar to Egyptian cotton, Pima is a high quality, long fiber cotton that is ideal for bed sheets because it produces ultra-soft, durable, and breathable bed sheets.
The main difference is that Pima cotton is grown in the Southwestern part of the United States. The desert climate in the Southwest is very similar to the climate in Egypt.
Pima cotton is named after the Native America Pima tribe who grew cotton in Arizona centuries ago.
Pima cotton sheets are considered higher quality than standard cotton but are less expensive than Egyptian cotton.
- Similar strength, comfort, and quality as Egyptian cotton.
- The majority of it is grown in the United States.
- More expensive than regular cotton.
- Often knocked-off or blended with cheaper cotton.
Highest-rated Pima Cotton Bed Sheets:
- Peru Pima 415 Thread Count 100% Peruvian Pima Cotton Sheets (view on Amazon)
- Peru Pima Temperature Regulating 600-Thread-Count Pima Cotton Sheets (view on Amazon)
Supima is the trademarked name for Pima cotton that is held to extremely high quality and purity standards. The name Supima comes from combining Superior and Pima.
The Supima Association was formed to promote American-grown extra-long-staple cotton and ensure that the materials used to create the product, in this case, bed sheets, have been sourced through a licensed supply chain.
To be considered Supima, cotton must be grown in the US, and the fibers need to be extra long (1.5 inches compared to 1 inch).
- Superior comfort, strength, and ability to retain color.
- Light and breathable, ideal for hot weather.
- Guaranteed to be grown and harvested in the United States.
- The Supima® label guarantees that it made with extra-long fibers, unlike Egyptian, which only references the place of origin.
- Hypoallergenic, resistant to mold and dust mites.
- More expensive than regular cotton. In some cases, more costly than Egyptian cotton.
Highest-rated Supima Cotton Bed Sheets:
- Threadmill Home Linen 1000 Thread Count Supima Cotton Sheets (view on Amazon)
- Stone & Beam 700 Thread Count 100% Supima Cotton Bed Sheets (view on Amazon)
MicroCotton is the trademark of fine cotton produced in India.
It was initially developed for making towels due to its ability to dry quickly and produce minimal lint but has since been used to make bed sheets because of those same benefits.
MicroCotton is known to be super absorbent, which will keep you dry and comfortable throughout the night.
To learn more about their process, check out MicroCotton’s site.
- Made with extra-fine long-staple cotton, similar to Pima.
- Manufactured with proprietary spinning technologies.
- Very soft and 250% more absorbent than regular cotton.
- More expensive than standard Upland cotton sheets.
- Very few manufacturers use it, so MicroCotton sheets are difficult to find.
Highest-rated MicroCotton Bed Sheets:
- Biltmore 500 Thread Count MicroCotton Sheets (view on belk.com)
- Oxygen 340-Thread Count Micro Cotton Sheets (view on thecompanystore.com)
- Scott Living Lustrous Micro-Cotton Sheet (view on Kohls.com)
Flannel sheets are known for their ability to keep you warm in the cold winter months.
Flannel is made from wool, cotton, and other materials.
During the manufacturing process, the cotton and other materials are brushed, which raises the nap, softens, and makes the material denser. This process creates a soft and comfortable yet heavy fabric that traps body heat more effectively and keeps you warm.
The quality of regular cotton is measured by thread count (more on that in a minute), but the quality of flannel is measured in weight, specifically ounces per square yard. The heavier, the better.
If your thinking about buying flannel sheets, these are some of the top-selling ones on Amazon with over 4,000 mostly excellent reviews.
- Extremely warm, ideal for winter.
- Soft and comfortable.
- Available in festive winter patterns.
- Very affordable.
- Too heavy for use in the summer and warm climates.
- By design, not as breathable as lighter cotton.
Highest-rated Flannel Bed Sheets:
- Ruvanti 100% Cotton Flannel Sheets (view on Amazon)
- Stone & Beam Rustic Buffalo Flannel Bed Sheets (view on Amazon)
- Laura Ashley Flannel Sheets (view on Amazon)
If you are looking for incredibly soft, luxurious sheets and don’t mind paying a premium, silk is a great option.
Silk is made from silkworms that produce a fabric that is soft, cool, smooth, luxurious, and hypoallergenic.
If you are looking for the best sheets you can buy, silk will be at the top of your list. Check out this set from ElleSilk on Amazon. It’s a great set if you’re looking to treat yourself or as a gift from someone special.
- Extremely soft and comfortable.
- Most luxurious sheets you can buy.
- Naturally hypoallergenic.
- Removes moisture from the skin quickly.
- Most expensive sheets you can buy.
- It requires delicate care.
Highest-rated Silk Bed Sheets:
- ElleSilk 100% Mulberry Silk Sheets (view on Amazon)
- Mulberry Park Silks 100% Pure Mulberry Silk Sheets (view on Amazon)
- LilySilk Silk Sheets (view on Amazon)
Tencel is a brand of fabric that is made out of the cellulose in eucalyptus wood pulp.
It is an all-natural fabric but is often mistaken as synthetic because the process of transforming eucalyptus wood pulp into a bed sheet is highly complex and requires sophisticated manufacturing technology.
Like cotton, Tencel is very soft, breathable, and wicks away moisture.
Unlike cotton, it is not hypoallergenic, and the chemicals used in the manufacturing process can cause issues for some people.
- Soft and comfortable. In some cases, softer than cotton.
- Absorbs moisture extremely well.
- Stronger than cotton, especially when wet.
- Not 100% hypoallergenic.
- More expensive than cotton due to the complex manufacturing process.
- It can feel somewhat clammy compared to regular cotton.
Highest-rated Tencel Bed Sheets:
- Royal Hotel Tencel sheets (view on Amazon)
- Olive + Crate Tencel Sheets (view on Amazon)
- Elegant Bedding Tencel Sheets (view on Amazon)
When most people think about sheets, bamboo (that’s right, panda bears’ favorite snack) is typically not the first material that comes to mind.
But, believe it or not, bamboo sheets have been gaining popularity in recent years—and for good reasons.
They are incredibly soft like cotton, but also have a smooth feel, like silk.
Bamboo fibers are very long and, in most cases, stretch across the entire sheet, unlike some cheaper materials that have short, woven fibers. Its long fibers prevent pilling and give bamboo sheets superior durability.
Bamboo sheets are hypoallergenic and nonabsorbent—they wick away sweat and bodily fluids, keeping you dry throughout the night. They are also extremely breathable, so you’ll stay cool in the hot summers.
If you’re concerned about sustainability, you’ll be happy to know that bamboo is one of the fastest-growing and most abundant plants on earth.
On the flip side, there are some concerns regarding chemicals used in the manufacturing process of bamboo sheets. In most cases, manufacturers harvest high-quality bamboo, shave it down, and transform it into a pulp using a variety of chemicals. That pulp is then turned into fibers to make bamboo rayon, which is a semi-synthetic fiber.
Although the chemicals used in the manufacturing process are disposed of and have no adverse effects on the sheets, it’s important to understand that most bamboo sheets are not 100% natural.
In the past, some brands labeled their sheets 100% bamboo, even though the fibers were actually semi-synthetic rayon/viscose derived from bamboo. Since then, the Federal Trade Commission has since put their foot down and stopped companies from making that claim unless the product is actually made from 100% bamboo.
When you shop for bamboo sheets, check to see if the label says “100% bamboo” or “Rayon/viscose made from bamboo.” There’s nothing wrong with the latter, but it’s good to know what you’re getting before you buy.
- Soft like cotton, and smooth like silk.
- Its long fibers make it stretchy and incredibly durable (no pilling).
- Hypoallergenic and moisture-resistant.
- More breathable than cotton.
- Chemicals used in the manufacturing process.
- Most bamboo sheets are not 100% bamboo unless labeled as such.
- More expensive than standard Upland cotton; similar cost to Egyptian cotton.
- Since bamboo is more breathable, it doesn’t retain heat as well as cotton.
Highest-rated Bamboo Bed Sheets:
- Hotel Sheets Direct 100% Viscose Derived from Bamboo Bed Sheets (view on Amazon)
- Pure Bamboo 100% Bamboo Viscose Bed Sheets (view on Amazon)
- Cosy House Collection 60% Bamboo 40% Microfiber Bed Sheets (view on Amazon)
Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant.
Linen sheets are soft, breathable, and even more absorbent than cotton.
Its fibers are thicker than cotton fibers, which give it superior strength and make it crisper than cotton, especially in the beginning, before several weeks of use and washes.
Linen is considered one of the most durable fibers in the world. Despite starting slightly stiff, it loosens up over time and becomes wonderfully soft and supple while maintaining its strength.
- Soft and very comfortable. Gets increasingly more comfortable over time.
- Silky with high luster giving it an element of luxury.
- Natural fibers that are hypoallergenic, ability to resist bacterial growth.
- Extremely strong and gains strength when wet.
- Difficult to weave, which makes it more expensive to produce and more costly for consumers.
- It can feel slightly stiff, especially in the beginning.
- Wrinkles very easily.
Highest-rated Linen Bed Sheets:
- DAPU Pure Stone Washed 100% French Linen Sheets (view on Amazon)
- Stone & Beam Belgian Flax Linen Bed Sheets (view on Amazon)
- Simple & Opulence 100% Linen Bed Sheets (view on Amazon)
Polyester sheets are not as common as cotton, but their main advantages are that they are less expensive and more durable.
Polyester is a man-made material that is produced by a chemical reaction between coal, petroleum by-products, alcohol, and carboxylic acid. It results in a material that is soft, extremely durable, and water/wind resistant. These properties make polyester ideal for rain jackets and athletic apparel but much less desirable for bed sheets.
Polyester is often mixed with cotton to achieve ideal softness for sheets but, even with cotton added, remains less breathable and rougher than standard cotton.
- Stain-resistant, which makes them an excellent choice for kids.
- Wrinkle resistant.
- Less comfortable and breathable than cotton and other materials.
- It can irritate sensitive skin.
- It does not absorb water, which makes it less cooling.
Highest-rated Polyester Bed Sheets:
- Mellanni Polyester Bed Sheets (view on Amazon) *Best-seller by far*
- TEKAMON 1800 Thread Count 100% Microfiber Polyester Sheets (view on Amazon)
Bonus: The Latest Innovation in Bed Sheet Materials
In recent years, enhancements in textile engineering in the athletic, active and outdoor spaces resulted in new fabrics that work with the physiology of the body while it’s in motion.
But there hasn’t been much innovation in bed sheet materials — until now.
Nollapelli, an innovative start-up in the bedding industry, developed a new type of fabric that supports the body when it is at rest.
This patent-pending fabric is made from an ideal union of natural, eco-friendly fibers, silky polymers, and fine Pima cotton. That combination of materials creates an optimal environment for skin, hair, and sleep by balancing moisture, temperature, and friction.
The moisture naturally released by our bodies at night can affect both the temperature of the sleep environment and the friction between skin, hair, and fabric. And how your bed sheets manage moisture, temperature, and friction determines how well you’ll sleep.
100% natural fabrics can be supremely soft, but they absorb and hold onto moisture, creating damp discomfort and a stickier surface against skin and hair.
And while 100% synthetic fabrics can be super durable and easy to care for, they can wick away too much moisture, leaving skin and hair dehydrated.
Nollapelli brings together the best of both worlds by combining 45% micro Tencel and 20% Pima cotton with 35% nylon. The result is a fabric where the side in direct contact with your body stays cool, dry, and smooth, while the underside absorbs and quickly dissipates any excess moisture.
No more sticky, sweaty sheets that disrupt sleep or waking up with dehydrated skin and hair. Instead, Nollapelli provides a more comfortable and restorative sleep, so the body at rest will stay at rest.
The only downside to this new material is the cost (view current prices). Nollapelli sheets are much more expensive than sheets made of Upland cotton, polyester, or flannel. In some cases, they are even more pricey than Egyptian cotton and silk sheets.
However, if you have the budget, the comfort and restful sleep you’ll experience makes the cost well worth it. Plus, Nollapelli offers a 30-day risk-free trial. If you’re not 100% satisfied, you can return the sheets for a full refund.
Learn more about this innovative bed sheet material on Nollapelli.com.
What Does Thread Count Mean and Why Does It Matter?
When you go shopping for bed sheets, besides the material, one of the critical decisions you need to make is what thread count to choose.
Thread count means the number of horizontal and vertical threads per square inch of fabric.
In general, the higher the thread count, the softer and more comfortable the sheet. However, companies understand this perception and often manipulate the number by using tricks in the manufacturing process that doesn’t improve comfort.
Aim for a thread count between 200 and 800, but remember to pay close attention to the materials, weave, and finish to understand the full picture.
Does Weave Type Matter?
Short answer, not really. Weave type is another factor that you might come across during the shopping process, but it’s less important than thread count. It can still make a small difference, so it’s worth understanding the three most common weave types:
Sateen – A weave that produces soft and lustrous but can be less durable.
Combed – In this type of weave, they comb the cotton and eliminate all of the short fibers leaving only the long ones that result in the softest and most durable material, similar to Pima and Egyptian.
Percale – Percale is a weave that is considered standard. It produces a soft and very durable sheet that has a minimum thread count of 180.
The Verdict: What Is the Best Material for Bed Sheets?
If you can afford expensive sheets, Pima, Supima, Egyptian Cotton, and Silk are the best materials. All four materials are incredibly soft, comfortable, moisture-absorbing, and adapt well for use throughout the year.
Personally, my favorite material for bed sheets is Supima cotton. Supima rises to the top for me because it’s grown in the US and is guaranteed to be 100% pure and natural.
Unlike Egyptian cotton, Supima cannot be knocked off, so you know you are buying sheets that are made from high-quality material and will last.
Pima is the same as Supima, but like Egyptian, Pima is known to be imitated by companies using a blend of cotton and other materials.
Silk sheets are very comfortable but, in my opinion, too delicate.
There are so many options to choose from, but if you are looking to invest in a good night’s sleep, below are the Supima and Egyptian cotton sheets that I own and highly recommend.
What’s your favorite bed sheet material?
Now that you understand the pros and cons of each material, it’s time to pick one and improve the quality of your sleep.
What is your favorite type of sheet? Do you have any go-to brands? Please let us know in the comments section or contact us directly; we would love to hear your feedback.
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