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What is Best for Bed Sheets: Cotton VS Polyester?

When you hear the term polyester, the first thing that probably comes to mind is uncomfortable and awkwardly stretchy clothes. But polyester as a fabric has come a long way from the clothes from the 80s. Polyester fabric has branched into household items such as linens, curtains and even bed sheets! Polyester bed sheets are steadily gaining in popularity for their comfortable feel, easy maintenance, and durability.

The top selling fabric for bed sheets is cotton and this has been the case for generations! Memories of sleeping on cotton sheets date back to childhood for most people, from staying at a friend’s house or with family and with good reason. Cotton is smooth, crisp, naturally breathable and moisture repellent with a strength in each thread that makes them last for years to come.

Cotton can be recycled and reused in numerous ways, but what about polyester? Can it hold up to the reputation of cotton bed sheets? Let’s compare the both and find out!

 

Cotton Sheets

Cotton sheets are designed with the sleeper’s utmost comfort in mind. These sheets should offer a crisp but smooth feel with no snags in the material or annoying puckers from sleep. Cotton sheets should fit smoothly over your mattress to create an expanse of fabric that protects not only your mattress from rips or stains but also protects your skin from unwanted moisture that can breed bacteria.

— Fabric

Cotton sheets are constructed using multiple cotton threads that are woven together to create a large piece of fabric. High-end cotton sheets, typically known as Egyptian cotton, are constructed using long fibers instead of the short ones generally found in pure cotton sheets and will have a softer, silkier feel with each higher level of thread counts. For example, a set of 300 thread count cotton bed sheets will feel smooth on the skin but not as soft as a set that has a 1000 thread count.

— Durability

Cotton bed sheets have a long life span even when used on a daily basis. The strength of cotton fibers has led to it being used in everything from curtains to clothing to bags to sheets. People have reported using the same bedsheets for up to 10 years!

Cotton bed sheets may experience fading in color over time but that doesn’t mean that they are ready for the trash. Many people find a second use for cotton sheets in other ways from children’s toy chests (think forts, dress-up, etc.) to beach or picnic blankets. Others may cut the bed sheets into strips for cleaning rags or use them whole as a drop cloth for painting endeavors.

— Breathable and Moisture Wicking

Cotton is one of the most naturally breathable fabrics available on today’s market, which attract consumers during the warmer months or those who live in hot, humid climates. If you tend to sleep hot during slumber or suffer from night sweats, then cotton sheets could benefit you comfort-wise, especially if you wake up soaked in sweat on a daily basis. The natural breathability of cotton sheets allows your body heat to be released in the atmosphere of your bedroom, instead of being trapped in your bed coverings and raising your body temperature more.

Cotton is also naturally moisture-wicking, so when moisture is introduced to the fabric (body fluids, spills, etc.), it doesn’t soak into the sheets and instead will evaporate into the air.

Check our Best Sheets for Hot Sleepers. here.

— Maintenance

Cotton sheets are not only soft, durable but are also extremely low-maintenance, which is perfect those who live a busy lifestyle and don’t have the time to spend washing sheets to specific instructions.

Cotton sheets can be washed in your washing machine on a normal cycle using the same water temperature you would use for other clothing. White or light fabrics tend to wash best in warmer temperatures whereas cold water will prevent the colors of dark fabrics to bleach or fade.

Once your bedsheets are done washing, throw them in the dryer for one tumble-dried cycle on low heat or hang them on the clothesline for a soft and smooth set of sheets that do not wrinkle!

 

Polyester Sheets

Polyester sheets should feel soft on the skin, but it is important to keep in mind, that while these sheets will not have as hefty of a price tag as cotton, this is because they are constructed using a man-made fiber.

— Fabric

Polyester, as previously mentioned, is a man-made material that in spun together using a combination of machinery and binding agents. This style of material might not be attractive to some, especially those living green lifestyles and only want to use organic materials in their everyday life.

— Durability

Polyester bed sheets have a durability rating that can almost match that of cotton sheets and the strength of this fabric comes from the materials from which it is made. Polyester shares some similar agents as plastic, so it will not easily rip or tear from daily use and can be reused in other ways once they outlived their usefulness as bedsheets.

— Breathable and Moisture Wicking

Polyester is not known as a breathable fabric, but sheet manufacturers have sought to change this perception by using a simple weaving pattern that allows for air circulation. This pattern will help aid those who sleep hot or live in humid climates by allowing moisture to evaporate from the sheets into the atmosphere.

Polyester also does not absorb moisture at the same level in which cotton does but it does have super-fast drying capabilities, which can be beneficial to those who sleep hot and tend to suffer from dreaded night sweats.

— Maintenance

Polyester, like cotton, is very low maintenance and can be washed along with dried right at home with the rest of your daily or weekly laundry. You will not need special detergents or particular washing routines but instead can just pop them right in the washer on cool temperatures for a normal cycle.

Drying for polyester sheets is slightly different, as it recommended that a clothesline is used over a dryer because it can pill over time. If using a clothesline isn’t an option, then a tumble-dry cycle on the lowest heat setting your dryer offers is the best bet for these sheets.

 

Conclusion

Both cotton and polyester bed sheets have their advantages and disadvantages, but it truly comes down to your personal preference. What may be an advantage or benefit for you and your family might be something that deters another consumer from purchasing the same style of bedsheets.

Discuss with your family what they would like for their bedsheets and make your decisions based on that information. Always choose a brand that you trust to deliver top quality for the best pricing. If there are any health-related issues that could be alleviated from a different type of fabric on your skin, make sure to discuss that with your trusted healthcare provider.

If you found this information helpful or you have a particular brand that delivers the absolute best bedsheets you have ever slept in, then let us know! We want to hear from you and your friends in the comment section below.

Photo credit: Sarbinaz/Shutterstock; Evannovostro/Shutterstock