Bamboo vs. Cotton Sheets: What’s the Difference?

So many types of sheets on the market can leave one wondering which one to choose? Finding the right set of sheets is part of setting yourself up for a…

Last Updated On September 23rd, 2022
Bamboo vs. Cotton Sheets: What’s the Difference?

So many types of sheets on the market can leave one wondering which one to choose? Finding the right set of sheets is part of setting yourself up for a good night’s sleep. Sleepers looking for something soft and comfortable might come across bamboo and cotton sheets.

The crisp and smooth feel of bamboo sheets is not what you would expect from traditional products, making it a desirable upgrade. However, the luxurious softness found in some cotton sheets might be the perfect choice for sleepers on a budget.

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Let’s look at bamboo and cotton sheets to help you find the perfect sheets.

What Are Bamboo Sheets?

Bamboo sheets are usually made of rayon, lyocell, and modal materials. These fabrics are cultivated from bamboo fibers, which make them an eco-friendly alternative to cotton sheets. What’s great about bamboo plants is they grow pretty fast on their own and do not require irrigation, pesticides, or fertilizers.

Along with being sustainable, bamboo sheets provide several health benefits since they are both antifungal and antibacterial. Using these hypoallergenic sheets will be easy to keep mold, mildew, and other bacteria from damaging your mattress. Bamboo sheets will also be good for allergy sufferers since bamboo is hypoallergenic.

These sheets also have an irresistibly soft feel, a nice change from coarse cotton sheets. This is especially good for sensitive skin sleepers who may enjoy the material’s plush feel. Since bamboo is so soft, it’s likely that it won’t irritate your skin.

Types of Bamboo Sheets

Bamboo sheets come in varying styles, so you’ll have a couple of options. Next, we’ll examine the different types of bamboo sheets.

Percale

Percale sheets are usually made of extra-long-staple (ELS) or long-staple cotton. Percale cotton is lightweight and provides a lot of breathability for sleepers. Bamboo is already known for its moisture-wicking abilities, so combining it with this sheet style will provide you with a cooler sleep environment.

Sateen

Sateen bamboo weaves have a silky texture, as opposed to a matte finish. Buying sateen sheets can be a great way to switch up your bedroom aesthetic, giving it a more glamorous look.

Santeen is a bit more expensive to purchase but can be a good purchase in the long run since they are durable and resistant to wrinkles. However, it’s worth mentioning sateen sheets are more likely to retain heat, which can be a problem if you are a hot sleeper.

Twill

Twill is a textile weave with a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs. When you first touch it, this material has a rough feel, but its ribbed texture makes it a very durable option. Twill ​​is a lightweight fabric, and the coarse fibers will keep your sleeping surface cooler.

Pros

  • Sustainably made
  • Very breathable
  • Moisture-wicking material
  • Hypoallergenic

Cons

  • Requires more care in laundering
  • Often involves chemical processing
  • Shrinkage potential
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What Are Cotton Sheets?

High-quality cotton sheets are made with long-staple fibers. These fibers are what make your sheets feel smooth and soft. Not to mention, they are very strong and will extend the lifetime of your product. Sheets made with short-staple fibers tend to feel too coarse or scratchy. They also have a lower thread count than long-staple fabrics, which can cause your sheets to wear down faster.

In this next section, we’ll examine some of the best types of cotton sheets. We’ll also provide you with some tips to help you steer clear of cheap products while you’re shopping.

Egyptian

Egyptian cotton sheets are one of the most high-quality products out there. They are made of extra-long-staple cotton and are produced in Egypt. This type of fabric is incredibly porous due to its soft fibers and thinner compounds.

Its smooth finish and noteworthy durability make it a luxurious upgrade for most shoppers. However, this upgrade will come with a pretty high price tag, with some items even costing upwards of $300.

Some see this as a better long-term investment since Egyptian cotton will last longer than most materials. Plus, they do not require additional maintenance, so sleepers won’t have to shell out additional money to clean or replace them.

Other sleepers will turn to cheaper Egyptian cotton sheets, which is not always the best idea. A lot of time, manufacturers will claim their products are made with Egyptian cotton when they are not. These products are often blended with other synthetic materials and will not be as durable as the ‘real’ thing.

Pima

American Pima cotton is another high-quality cotton material that resembles Egyptian cotton. Pima is planted in the Southwestern part of the U.S. and is known for its soft long-staple fibers. Pima cotton is a lot more affordable than Egyptian cotton, and you may be able to find sheets for around $125. That being said, this gives you more reason to steer clear of low-quality replicas.

Upland

Upland cotton is commonly found in most households. Suppose you’ve ever seen labels that say “made with 100% cotton” they are more than likely made with Upland.

This material is made with short staples, making it less desirable than Pima and Egyptian cotton. It’s also not as soft as these materials. However, the price point for Upland cotton products might be more reasonable for the average person.

Flannel

Flannel cotton is a soft, medium-weight fabric crafted from loosely woven fibers. They go through a process called ‘napping,’ which gives the material a slightly fuzzy texture. Flannel sheets are often made with cotton but can also be made from wool, fiber blends, or synthetic fibers like polyester.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Odor-resistant
  • ​​Durable

Cons

  • The material tends to wrinkle
  • Pesticide use in cultivation
  • Potential shrinkage
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Which is Better: Bamboo or Cotton?

Now that we’ve looked at the qualities of both bamboo and cotton sheets, it’s time to decide which type of sheet you should buy. Let’s take a look at how cotton sheets compare to bamboo ones.

Durability

Bamboo and cotton sheets are both made with long-staple fibers, which means they are both very durable. With the proper care, both can last for a long time. Cotton even gets better with age, getting softer and softer with each wash.

However, most sleepers do not use high-quality cotton products like Pima or Egyptian cotton. Products made with Upland cotton will not last as long, so it might be better to invest in other options.

Comfort

Sleepers love both kinds of sheets for their soft and cozy feel. Even though cotton sheets might feel rough at first, they soften up after a couple of washings and can feel like luxurious hotel sheets.

Again, the feel of your sheets will ultimately depend on the type of sheets you intend to purchase. So, decide whether you want a crisp or smooth feel. Bamboo sheets will give sleepers more of the crispness they’re looking for, while cotton sheets will be much softer.

Temperature Neutrality

Cotton sheets tend to be better for breathability than bamboo. Though bamboo is fairly breathable, many sleepers believe cotton sheets provide a cooler environment.

Others may prefer another material entirely, like those comparing the benefits of Tencel to cotton sheets.

Care

Another great thing about bamboo and cotton sheets is they require little maintenance.

Most manufacturer instructions call for machine washing and drying bamboo sheets. If cared for properly, they should withstand routine washing. However, you may notice some wrinkling when you take them out of the dryer. Cotton sheets can also be thrown in the washing machine with no issue.

Cost

Bamboo cotton sheets are more expensive and might be out of your budget. You can expect to pay around $150 to $350 for quality bamboo sheets. There are usually more budget-friendly alternatives you can look at that provide similar benefits to bamboo sheets.

You’ll be able to find cotton sheets for less than $100. Some cotton sheets made with Upland cotton might not be as durable, but some products will hold up for a short period. You’ll also have the option to purchase higher-quality items made with Egyptian cotton or Pima, but these might cost just as much, if not more, than bamboo sheets.

More Types of Sheets to Consider

Shoppers aren’t limited to bamboo or cotton sheets when looking to dress their bed, as there is a wide range of fabrics to consider. We have buyer’s guides comparing some of the more popular options:

FAQs

What are the best cotton sheets to buy?

Egyptian cotton sheets are the best types of sheets to buy. These sheets are made from extra-long staple fibers and are incredibly durable and resistant to pilling. The downside is that Egyptian cotton can be expensive. Plus, some retailers may label products as Egyptian cotton when they are dupes. So, keep an eye out for this while you’re shopping.

If Egyptian cotton is too expensive, you can always choose alternatives, like sheets made with Pima cotton fibers. These sheets are made with long-staple cotton as well. Though the fibers are not as long as Egyptian cotton, they are still pretty durable.

Are cotton sheets warm?

Cotton sheets will keep sleepers warm and cozy, especially when they are made with flannel material. Flannel has a fuzzy-like texture which is great for sleepers who sleep in cooler environments. However, if you are someone who sleeps hot, you won’t want to use them, as they can contribute to overheating and worsen night’s sweets.

What is a good thread count for sheets?

For the most part, high-quality sheets should have a thread count between 200 to 400. Any more than that will cost you more money in the long run.

Sheets with higher thread counts tend to be more expensive, but they do not change your bed’s softness or overall feel. It’s best to stay within the recommended range to avoid overextending your budget.

Are bamboo sheets long-lasting?

Bamboo sheets are made with strong, natural materials and have a longer lifespan than traditional cotton sheets. Their long fibers contribute to their durability, and their lightweight qualities keep sleepers feeling nice and cool throughout the night.

What type of sheets are best for the summertime?

Though bamboo sheets are very good at temperature regulation, most sleepers don’t think they are as breathable as cotton. For this reason, we recommend purchasing lightweight cotton sheets during the summer months. They will be efficient at wicking away moisture and prevent you from waking up feeling sweaty or clammy.

Conclusion

Finding the perfect sheets will help you achieve a good night’s sleep. Quality sheets should be durable, so be careful if you are planning to purchase cheaper items. Though you can find quality cotton sheets for as low as $50, investing in items that include long-staple materials might be beneficial.

Bamboo sheets might be a good choice if you are looking for a luxurious upgrade. Bamboo sheets usually come with a higher price tag, but they are proven to be long-lasting and will keep sleepers cozy for years.


About the author

Mitchell Tollsen is a graduate student and a freelance writer who’s contributed to the Early Bird blog for three years. Mitchell’s always been fascinated by the science of sleep and the restorative processes our bodies undergo when at rest. The self-titled “Sleep Expert” is always looking for ways to improve his shut-eye, and throughout the years has implemented numerous lifestyle changes and tried dozens of sleep-promoting gadgets to determine the best ways to truly get better rest.

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