Finding the right material for your sheets is easier than it seems. For years, debate has raged about challenges to cotton’s prime position in the bed sheet market. Bamboo sheets represent a relatively new entry to the market, with benefits and advantages unique to this particular fabric.
Bamboo and cotton sheets are two of the most popular options right now for very good reason. Both fabrics can feel soft and luxurious on the skin while boasting great durability and breathability.
This article aims to compare the benefits and features of each type of sheet so you can make an informed decision about whether bamboo or cotton sheets are right for you.
Bamboo Bed Sheets
As the name implies, bamboo sheets are typically made from the fibers from bamboo plants, or from some combination of rayon, lyocell, or modal fabric derived from bamboo fibers. These fibers are woven together to produce bamboo fabric.
Most people are familiar with cotton sheets already, and when compared to cotton sheets bamboo sheets tend to feel very similar to cotton in terms of softness and lightness.
Many people prefer bamboo because the bamboo plant is more sustainable and eco-friendly than some cotton farming practices. However, the viscose process used to refine bamboo and create bamboo rayon or lyocell for turning into sheets require the use of chemicals.
Bamboo linen blends are made using a chemical-free mechanical process, although this fabric tends to be coarser.
Typically, bamboo sheets are made using percale, sateen, or twill weaves. Each weave has different properties: percale is the most breathable, but twill tends to be more durable, and sateen has a lustrous finish.
Cotton Bed Sheets
Cotton may be the most popular material for bed sheets. The cotton plant naturally yields incredibly soft, durable fibers that are remarkably easy to care for.
Cotton sheets vary considerably in terms of price, with higher prices reflecting higher quality sheets. The most luxurious cotton sheets command prices ahead of entry level sheets, with higher-quality cotton and increased thread counts.
Often, you’ll see different types of traditional cotton sheets advertised. The most popular cotton materials are:
- Percale: this one over, one under weave pattern offers supreme breathability and moisture wicking capabilities. We highly recommend Bemboka’s cotton percale sheets for those in warmer climates.
- Egyptian cotton: Egyptian cotton is renowned for its remarkable softness and breathability, thanks to its extra-long staples. Egyptian cotton sheets are the most luxurious type, and command the highest prices. Egyptian cotton blends are commonly sold as “Egyptian cotton.”
- Pima cotton: similar to Egyptian cotton, with similarly long staples, but does not command the high prices of true Egyptian.
- Sateen: with this weave, three or four threads go over for each thread that goes under, giving the fabric a silky, lustrous appearance and feel. Sateen sheets retain more heat than percale.
- Twill: the “ribbing” pattern of twill is not dissimilar in appearance to denim. While twill sheets are nowhere near as soft as percale, they tend to be highly durable.
- Jersey: technically a knit, rather than a weave, of the sort typically used in making high-quality tee shirts. Jersey sheets can feel like a soft, well-loved tee.
Cotton vs Bamboo Sheets: Key Differences
|Loose weaves such as percale can be very breathable.
|As with bamboo, looser weaves tend to breathe better.
|Softness typically depends on the weave. Bamboo will not get softer over time.
|The softness of cotton sheets depends on the weave. Cotton tends to be a soft material that gets softer as it ages.
|Bamboo is highly durable. However, some bamboo fabrics like bamboo viscose weaken when wet, and will suffer from repeated washing.
|Cotton is highly durable, and will soften as it ages. This is because cotton gets stronger with exposure to water.
|Bamboo viscose is partially synthetic.
|No insecticides used to grow bamboo, but some chemicals are used in bamboo fabric production.
|Insecticides used to grow cotton plants.
Bamboo Sheets Pros and Cons
Bamboo Sheets Pros
- Bamboo is extremely breathable & moisture-wicking, perfect for a cool, comfortable sleep on a hot summer’s night
- Some bamboo weaves are very soft
- Because most bamboo is forest-grown, bamboo tends to be eco-friendly
Bamboo Sheets Cons
- Chemical processing
- Can wrinkle and pill depending on weave
- Will not endure harsh, frequent washing and drying
Cotton Sheets Pros and Cons
Cotton Sheets Pros
- Naturally soft, breathable fabric perfect for sleeping
- Low maintenance: easy to wash and take care of
- Typically very affordable
Cotton Sheets Cons
- Softness means absorbency: may require more frequent washing as cotton absorbs sweat during sleep
- Not as breathable as bamboo, depending on weave
- Tendency to wrinkle after washing if not folded carefully
Which is Best for Bed Sheets, Cotton or Bamboo Sheets?
Of course, both cotton and bamboo sheets have their own advantages. It’s hard to decide which is better until you know what you’re looking for from your bedsheets. The impact of climate is a frequent consideration on choice of bedsheets, for example when deciding between linen vs cotton sheets.
At the higher end, the most luxurious cotton sheets tend to be finer quality than most other fabrics. Compared to bamboo, cotton sheets are definitely lower-maintenance, thanks to cotton’s increased durability.
However, if you live somewhere that gets extremely hot in summer, such as the tropical top end of Australia, even cotton sheets can feel too sticky for those warm summer nights. Bamboo tends to breathe better, and will make for a more comfortable night’s sleep in the hotter months.
Cotton, however, will remain softer for longer, so if you aren’t a hot sleeper, then high-quality cotton sheets might be the way to go.
Whichever way you decide to go, it’s hard to argue against comfortable, breathable, durable bed sheets. While cotton sheets have long set the standard for comfort and luxury, it’s no secret that bamboo sheets have their own benefits and advantages, especially for those living in hotter climates.
Cotton tends to be softer and more affordable than bamboo, but it also covers a broader price range. While it’s easy to find simple cotton sheets, expertly crafted Egyptian cotton sheets often command a higher price tag.
Jersey Italian Cashmere Throws, Wraps & Shawls
Designed in Australia and made in Portugal.
Chunky Box Angora & Merino Wool Throws
Designed in Australia and made in New Zealand.
Reversible Rib Cotton Throws
Designed in Australia and made in New Zealand.