cotton vs microfiber sheets
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Cotton vs. Microfiber Sheets: What's The Difference & Which Is Best For You?

    Last Updated
    December 1, 2022
    min read

    Cotton bed sheets and microfiber sheet sets are two of the most popular choices for bedding. Choosing between them can be rather tricky because each type has its own strengths and weaknesses. So, how exactly do these two options measure up against each other?

    The main difference between cotton sheets and microfiber sheets is breathability – cotton sheets are often preferred in warmer climates because they’re cooler and breezier. But that’s not the only distinction between them. 

    In this article, we break down the debate between microfiber vs. cotton sheets and dive deeper into the differences between both sheet types. We’ll also explore how both versatile materials suit different kinds of sleepers so you can make an informed decision.

    What Are Cotton Sheets?

    Cotton sheets are thin yet comfortable layers of cloth made from natural fiber. This type of sheet is fashioned from breathable (sometimes organic) materials that are perfect for people with allergies or sensitive skin. This is possible because the weaving process is usually free from harmful chemicals like bleach and pesticides. 

    Moreover, people who experience night sweats might also benefit from high-quality cotton sheets because of their natural moisture-wicking properties and body heat dissipation.


    • Breathable: Cotton plants produce breathable material that doesn't trap body heat. So, this may be the perfect option for you if you live in a warmer climate and struggle with night sweats.
    • Hypoallergenic: Whether you're purchasing luxurious Egyptian cotton sheets or cheap cotton sheets, you can expect natural materials in your product. That means you'll have reliable hypoallergenic sheets, perfect for people with skin sensitivities. 
    • Sturdy: While thread count is a good predictor of a durable sheet, most types of cotton bedding are usually stronger than their alternatives. Weave type plays a significant role in its durability, and you’ll get at least three years’ comfort from this bed sheet type.


    • Wide range of cost: Even though organic cotton sheets can come with low price tags, thread count and the type of cotton used can quickly inflate costs. For example, Egyptian cotton sheets can cost over $500 for a complete set, which can be prohibitively expensive for some.
    • Shrinkable: Low-quality sheets can shrink when washed in very hot water, rendering most blankets and bedding virtually useless. This is more likely to happen when other organic materials are pulled into a tight weave with regular cotton, so pure cotton sheets may not have this issue.

    What Are Microfiber Sheets?

    Microfiber sheets are composed of synthetic fibers like nylon polymers, polyester, and even wood pulp-based threads, microfiber sheets are made from a tighter weave than natural alternatives. Despite being made from synthetic material, microfiber bedding has a unique soft texture that’s great for sensitive skin.


    • Wicks moisture: Despite being made from synthetic materials, microfiber fabric has natural moisture-wicking properties, similar to high-quality cotton sheets. That's partially why microfiber towels are so popular, too.
    • Stronger than natural cotton sheets: The best thing about synthetic fabrics is that they're relatively low-maintenance. Even if you toss your microfiber blankets into the washing machine for a rigorous cycle, they'll come out feeling new, fresh, and undamaged.


    • Static electricity: A typical waffle-patterned microfiber sheet tends to hold positive charges quite well, meaning you’re quite likely to experience weak static shocks while using them.
    • Less breathable: Even high-end microfiber sheets can’t reach a level of breathability comparable to natural cotton sheets. That said, this can be a desirable trait for folks living in cooler climates.

    Difference Between Microfiber And Cotton Sheets

    Understanding the difference between two types of sheets can be pretty daunting, but it’s much easier when their specific attributes are laid out. Here are the two main ways microfiber and cotton sheets differ.

    Feel And Comfort

    Cotton is one of the most popular fabrics used in sheets. This is partially because there are so many types of cotton sheets on the market, all with different feelings and comfort levels. The thread count of cotton sheets is one of the most significant determining factors for comfort levels, with high thread count sheets delivering a softer and luxurious feeling. In contrast, low thread count options may be scratchy and rough.

    On the other hand, microfiber sheets are pretty uniform across the board. Their super-thin fibers come together in velvety soft fabric, resembling the feeling of luxurious silk sheets. However, this smooth feeling also comes with silk’s greatest weakness: a lack of breathable comfort.


    The benefits of breathability cannot be understated, especially if you live in a warmer climate. However, highly breathable sheets may not always be the right choice for your situation. So, how do cotton and microfiber measure up?

    Simply put, cotton fibers are designed for hot sleepers who require sheets that quickly dissipate the additional heat coming from their bodies. As a result, these sheets tend to be much cooler and breezier. 

    In contrast, microfiber sheets tend to be quite densely woven, meaning less air passes through. This can also trap body heat, which can be helpful during winter.

    How To Choose Between Cotton And Microfiber


    Cotton sheets

    Microfiber sheets


    Highly breathable

    Not very breathable

    Feel and comfort

    Ranges from scratchy to smooth

    Silky and smooth


    3-5 years

    5+ years


    Moderately easy

    Very easy





    Large variety

    Moderate variety


    Why Should You Buy Microfiber Sheets?

    • Low maintenance: While most kinds of bed sheets are machine washable, many of them can get damaged in rough cycles. Microfiber sheets are highly sturdy and will survive even the most thorough wash cycles, making them significantly more low maintenance than cotton.
    • Crease-free: Microfiber sheets remain crease and wrinkle-free even after a wash. That means you won’t need to iron or steam your sheets before use. Your bedding and pillows will feel fresh and clean without much effort.
    • No lint: Microfiber fabrics are very lint-resistant, making them the most “plug and play” experience of all bedsheets.

    Why Should You Buy Cotton Sheets?

    • Cool and comfortable: Cotton sheets are the number one choice for folks who need a cool and comfortable sleeping experience. Even the most densely woven cotton sheets have lots of space for air and body heat to pass through, which is essential if you have a cushy mattress protector.
    • Large variety of options: Cotton sheets can range from scratchy and thin to smooth and soft – all it takes is a few dollars for the upgraded experience. Great for sensitive skin: If you struggle with psoriasis, eczema, or any other kind of skin condition, then cotton is unbeatable. It’s hypoallergenic and incredibly soft, so it won’t irritate or exacerbate any skin sensitivities or issues.

    More Types Of Sheets To Consider

    • Flannel: Flannel sheets can be a warm yet inexpensive choice that suits folks in icy climates. However, its ability to trap body heat means it’s highly dense and not very breathable. Some people may also find them scratchy.
    • Silk: Silk is often synonymous with luxury, and for good reason. Silk sheets are extremely smooth and soft and naturally hypoallergenic. Some people even say silk pillowcases minimize facial wrinkles while you sleep. However, this material is very high maintenance and requires delicate care to stay smooth and comfortable.
    • Bamboo: Bamboo sheets are a soft and comfortable option that’s also very sustainable compared to the alternatives.
    • Linen: Linen sheets may start out stiff and scratchy, but they get more comfortable over time. However, this isn’t because you’re wearing the fibers down – these sheets are durable and can last much longer than other fabrics.
    • Polyester: Polyester sheets are known for being inexpensive yet effective. They’re wrinkle and stain-resistant, but that also means they don’t absorb moisture and sweat very well. Polyester fabric also tends to be quite unbreathable, making it too warm for tropical climates.

    Which Sheets Are Best For You?

    No one “best” option for bed sheets or bedding applies to every buyer. Instead, the right choice is based on your specific needs. 

    For example, if you’re a person who lives in a colder climate, then maybe you’re better off with a denser material like microfiber. But, on the other hand, cotton might be the right choice if you live in a warmer area. 

    No matter your needs, choosing high-quality sheets is a must, especially if you want to be comfortable all night long. 

    Cotton vs Microfiber Sheets FAQs

    Is it better to sleep on cotton or microfiber sheets?

    There’s no single answer to whether it’s better to sleep on cotton on microfiber sheets. Instead, we recommend identifying your specific sleep needs and matching them to a sheet type’s strengths.

    Are microfiber sheets hotter than cotton?

    Yes, microfiber sheets are generally hotter than cotton. 

    What material is best for cool bed sheets?

    Cotton sheets are great if you want cool bed sheets. 


    About the authors

    Cecilia Gillen

    Cecilia brings over five years of writing experience primarily centered around lifestyle and health topics. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Journalism from the University of South Dakota. She’s both an advocate for sleep and a night owl at heart.

    Tasha Martin
    Manager, Product & Merchandising (Bedding)

    Tasha Martin specializes in bedding products. With over half a decade of product management experience,  Tasha finds joy in delivering products that improve the lives of others.