Which is the Best: Cotton VS Microfiber Sheets

Has the time come where you now have to purchase new sheets? Is your old set ripped or stained or just plain worn through? Sheets are an important part of your bedding, as it is exactly what your body will be laying on and also the first layer that will cover your skin; unless you use strictly a bed cover of course!

People normally wouldn’t feel that bedsheets is a purchase that requires much thought at all, beyond what color would be the best, let alone a purchase that would require you to complete research. I mean, it is sheets after all. But did you know that the types of sheets available to the general public has gone beyond the normal swaths of generic cotton or spun fabric to include materials such as microfiber, linen, silk, flannel and more.

Cotton sheets have long been the staple, the kingpin, the top dog of the sheet market but there is another type of material that is making waves. Microfiber sheets, a new style of bed sheets that are a soft and cushiony material that rivals cotton for durability and comfort.

Cotton Sheets

Cotton sheets are a favorite of numerous generations when it comes to purchasing and recommending bed sheets to peers. There is something soothing and comforting about cotton, whether it be the sturdy longevity that these sheets possess, or it be the soothing cool but dry material that covers your skin.

Cotton sheets have long been recommended by healthcare professionals for those who suffer from skin-related ailments, due to their soothing, un-puckered material. Those who experience night sweats throughout the night also report a night of comfort when sleeping on cotton sheets, as they have moisture-wicking properties and a high level of breathability.

  • Soothing to the skin
  • Natural moisture-wicking properties
  • Durable while maintaining softness


Cotton sheets are very soothing to the skin, partly thanks to the smooth surface of the fabric. Those who suffer from skin-related conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis find that some types of bedsheets can increase symptoms. Whether the types of sheets that cause symptoms to increase are too warm for sleeping or ribbed to the point of discomfort; whatever the reason, there seems to be no complaints when it comes to sleeping on cotton sheets.

Natural Moisture-Wicking Properties

Cotton sheets are the only type of sheet that can boast about their natural moisture-wicking properties, so great those who suffer from night sweats rave about them.

Cotton has a high level of breathability that allows for air circulation throughout the night, regardless of the weight applied to the sheet. For those who sleep hot or experience night sweats throughout slumber, cotton can alleviate some of those symptoms by regulating and cooling the body’s core temperature.

If night sweats do occur, cotton sheets tend to dry faster and repel moisture, allowing for a deeper rest.


The life span of cotton sheets is approximately three times that of its competitor. Thanks its interwoven and spun threads, these sheets can withstand numerous washings and prolonged use without losing its shape or its durability. They can be used for other projects once the sheets have neared the end of their life span, either because of damage to the sheets or because of color fading.

Cotton sheets, when nearing the end of their life, will be thinner in places that see the most use and when pressure is applied to the sheets, simply tear apart into a million pieces of thread due to the weakening of the material.

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Microfiber Sheets

Microfiber sheets are made from finely woven strands of silky material and polyester. They are very soft to the touch but are made in a machine rather than from natural ingredients. Some different styles of microfiber sheets may even consist of finely ground wood pulp or recycled material.

The stronger and softer the microfiber sheet, the thicker the strands used during the weaving process are. It is a concept similar to that of a cotton sheet, where the higher thread counts are not only more durable, but also smoother to the touch.

  • Soft to the touch
  • Low maintenance
  • Durable


Microfiber sheets of good quality should be extremely soft to the touch, due to the multiple materials and finely woven threads that make up the composition of the sheet. These sheets can be soothing to those with skin ailments but some consumers have reported irritation from the multiple types of materials used to produce the thread.

Like their cotton counterparts, microfiber sheets will have a softer, smoother touch when the thread count is high. The higher the thread count will determine not only the softness and appearance of your sheet but also the longevity.

Low Maintenance

Microfiber sheets are low maintenance, as they can be washed and dried without special instructions or detergent. They are durable enough to be washed on a normal cycle in your washing machine, and will maintain their shape and size even after the use of a dryer.

Ensure that you fold your microfiber sheets once they have completed their drying cycle to avoid creases and wrinkles forming in the set.


Microfiber sheets are durable in their own right. While cotton sheets currently hold the title for one of the top long-lasting sheet types, microfiber can also withstand multiple washings and prolonged use.

If the sheets are of lower quality, however, and are not composed of a high thread count, rips and tears are possible after only a few months. Sheets need to be considered an investment, so sometimes it is more financially viable to purchase expensive sheet sets from the beginning. Failure to do so will result in a repeated expense and potentially leave you with no sheets on your bed or a set that has annoying rips and tears.

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You may want to read: Are Microfiber Sheets Hot?

Cotton vs Microfiber Sheet Specs

Cotton Sheet Microfiber Sheet
Soothing to the skin Soft to the touch
Natural moisture-wicking properties Low maintenance
Durable while maintaining softness Durable



Now that you have a bit more knowledge in regards to different types of sheets that are available on today’s market, maybe you might want to change things up and select a different type for your bed! After all, when a person spends almost a third of their life snoozing and sleeping, shouldn’t it be done in comfort and style?

If you have any existing skin conditions or sleep-related health issues; than speak to your pharmacist or trusted healthcare professional about what type of bed sheets could benefit or hinder your ailments. Certain types of fabric and interwoven materials can irritate skin, whereas other types can improve or alleviate some of your symptoms. For example, silk sheets may soothe irritated skin or flannel sheets are too warm for someone who suffers from night sweats.

If this article was helpful to you in any way or you think it would benefit someone else looking at different types of sheets, please feel free to share and forward it! If you use a particular type of sheet or would like to know more, please comment below. Here’s to comfy sleeping!

Photo credit: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock; World_of_Textiles/Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions

Which sheets are more likely to pill after washing, cotton or microfiber?

Those little balls of fuzz on your sheets are known as pilling, and no one likes to see or feel them. Pilling can happen on cotton sheets and occurs when cotton fibers break down and get tangled, usually as a result of some form of friction. Often, pilling can happen on fitted sheets near the foot of the bed, but pilling can also occur in the middle of a sheet from friction due to the stubble from shaved body hair. Some materials such as silk, linen and bamboo have longer fibers that are less likely to pill, as do some long fiber versions of cotton. Microfiber sheets on the other hand, are unlikely to pill because they are made of such fine threads. However, microfiber sheets are more likely to tear than pill as they wear out.

Which sheets are easier to wash, cotton or microfiber?

Of course, it depends on the actual blend of synthetic fibers but generally speaking, microfiber sheets are easy to wash, are low maintenance and can be washed and dried without fabric softeners or any special instructions. In fact, it’s not a good idea to use fabric softeners with microfiber sheets since it can clog the open spaces in the microfiber. In addition, these sheets generally do not shrink after a wash and although some may be wrinkle free, many of the synthetic materials that commonly make up microfiber sheets are prone to wrinkling, bunching, and static. Cotton sheets, on the other hand, are not as easy and carefree to wash, and require special attention when washing to maintain their shape and quality. Since cotton sheets are derived from natural fibers, hot water will cause the sheets to shrink and fade over time, as will putting them in the drier on a high heat. The heat can also deteriorate the high-quality cotton fibers. The best way to wash your cotton sheets for optimum results is to follow the care instructions on the label.

Which sheets are better for babies, cotton or microfiber?

Cotton has been the standard for crib and baby sheets because it is lightweight, breathable, and hypoallergenic, with cotton flannel a good choice in the winter. However, microfiber has been gaining in popularity because it is more affordable and more durable than less expensive cotton sheets that can wear down and tear. In terms of your baby’s comfort level, polyester and other microfiber crib sheets are not breathable, and your baby may overheat while sleeping, causing him or her to wake up more often and sleep poorly at night.