If you want a good night’s rest, your bedsheets can make or break your sleep. There are loads of different bed sheet options available on the market. You might want sheets that feel soft, but there are other factors you should consider before you buy.
There are two types of bed sheets that are readily available. Cotton sheets have always been a popular classic; known for their long life span and freshness. Bamboo sheets are an alternative to cotton that is fairly recent to the market. Bamboo has gained popularity as its lightweight and durable.
Bamboo and cotton have many advantages that make it difficult to choose between them. To make it easier for you to choose your bed sheets, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of bamboo and cotton in this article.
What are bamboo sheets?
Bamboo sheets tend to be made from lyocell, rayon, or modal fabric. These fabrics are extracted from bamboo fibers. Like cotton, these sheets are soft, lightweight, and strong.
Bamboo sheets are thought to be sustainable, as the plant grows without pesticides or fertilizers. This makes the raw plant environmentally friendly, however, rayon, lyocell, and modal are made using the viscose process. The viscose process needs chemicals to break down bamboo pulp. Cellulose is extracted, which is then spun into fibers.
On the other hand, bamboo linen, or bast bamboo fiber, is created using a chemical-free process. This may be eco-friendly, but the fabric can be thick, coarse, and creases easily.
What are the types of bamboo sheets?
Other than different materials, bamboo sheets also come in different weaves. These have different advantages depending on which one you choose. Here are three popular weaves used in bamboo sheets.
Sateen: Sateen weaves have a soft, silky finish with a subtle shine. It doesn’t crease easily but retains heat easier. Sateen is also prone to rips and piling.
Twill: Like denim, twill weaves use parallel diagonal ribs. Twill sheets aren’t smooth, as the ribs add texture, but they can be strong and resistant to tears.
Percale: Percale sheets are breathable, light, and have a matte finish. This makes them a good choice if you get hot at night, but they do wrinkle easily.
What are cotton sheets?
Cotton uses fibers from the cotton plant. Cotton is strong, soft, and low maintenance, making it a common choice for bed sheets.
Cotton sheets can contain one type of cotton, or a blend of different kinds of cotton. Regular cotton is affordable but has a shorter life span. Known as a luxurious choice, Egyptian cotton is very soft and strong, but has a high price. Pima cotton offers similar advantages to Egyptian cotton at a lower price.
Generally speaking, the higher the price, the better quality cotton you get. If you’re considering paying more for Egyptian cotton, do note that less expensive options likely contain blends of cotton.
What are the types of cotton sheets?
Cotton sheets also come in different weaves and fabrics. Here are some common weaves for cotton sheets.
Sateen: Sateen weaves don’t crease easily, but can tear or pill. It looks silky and has a nice sheen to it. Cotton sateen sheets can retain heat easier, making them less breathable than other weaves.
Percale: Like bamboo percale, cotton percale is good for people that get hot at night. Cotton percale is light but strong. It's known to get softer after every wash.
Twill: Like bamboo twill, cotton twill uses parallel diagonal ribbing. The ribbing means cotton twill sheets are durable and can last for a long time. However, cotton twill isn’t as soft or lightweight as other options.
Jersey: Cotton jersey is also used to make t-shirts. Technically, jersey is a knit instead of a weave. Sleeping on jersey sheets can be very comfortable, as it’s cozy and soft.
What is better: bamboo or cotton?
Bamboo and cotton are similar materials. They use the same weaves and are both natural materials. To decide between the two, here are a few things you should think about before buying your sheets.
If you want to know if your bedsheets are good quality or not, look at the thread count. Generally, the higher the thread count, the softer your fabric should feel. This rings true for cotton more than bamboo, as bamboo is soft regardless.
Many believe that bamboo fibers are more comfortable than cotton. This can be true, but not always. For the most part, bamboo sheets will be softer than normal cotton.
However, higher-end, more expensive cotton will have a high thread count, making these cotton sheets softer than regular bamboo ones.
The comfort of bamboo sheets depends on the material and chosen weave, but tends to be smooth, soft, and lightweight.
Cotton sheets come in a variety of finishes, so there are many different options for your needs. Less expensive, low-thread count sheets might not be the best choice. You might find these too dry and rough for your bed. Higher count cotton sheets could be soft and depending on the weave, breathable to sleep on. Most cotton options are soft, but percale can feel rigid on first use.
Strength and care
Normally, bamboo is stronger than cotton. Despite this, you’ll always have to use a gentle cleaning cycle when cleaning bamboo. Cotton can be washed at higher temperatures. You can tumble dry bamboo on low heat, and both materials can be air-dried.
No matter what fabric you choose, always follow the manufacturer's guidelines when washing and drying your sheets.
Cotton needs pesticides to grow the plant, meaning it isn’t as eco-friendly as bamboo. Bamboo is easily renewable as it grows quickly. Compared to cotton, manufacturing bamboo sheets produces a smaller carbon footprint.
Bamboo retains less heat than cotton, as bamboo sheets are naturally cool and lightweight. You can purchase high thread count cotton that is more breathable than regular cotton, but these are a lot more expensive.
The bottom line
Bamboo and cotton are very similar materials, but there are some crucial differences.
If you get hot overnight and sweat while you sleep, you might prefer cotton sheets with a percale weave. It’s easier to find an affordable set of cotton sheets compared to bamboo ones.
However, if you’re eco-conscious, you might want to buy bamboo sheets instead. Cotton gets softer with every wash, but if you don’t want to wait, bamboo feels soft from the first touch. Because of this, compared to regular cotton, bamboo might be a better choice for sensitive skin.