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Buying Guides

9 Types of Bed Sheets: Which Material Is Best for You?

    Last Updated
    March 12, 2024
    min read
    The most common types of sheets include cotton, linen, bamboo, Tencel™, silk, satin, polyester, microfiber, and flannel. In addition to material, it’s important to consider factors such as weave, thread count, and feel.

    While your mattress is the primary factor that affects the quality of your rest, bedding also plays a vital role. Knowing how to choose bed sheets that keep you comfortable begins by assessing all of your options and determining your preferences.

    Before selecting your new sheets, learn the differentiating features between each option. From cotton to silk, there’s a myriad of options that each contain a unique set of pros and cons.

    Sheets That Keep You Cool and Comfortable

    Designed for breathability and adaptability, Purple bed sheets keep you cool and comfortable all night long.

    While there are certain quality standards for each type, there is no universal bed sheet material that is perfect for everyone. What you choose will depend on your preferences for factors like temperature, texture, softness, cost, and care requirements. In this guide, we cover nine different types of bed sheets with information on material, weave, and thread count, as well as what to look for when considering which type is ideal for you.

    A graphic depicting 9 types of bed sheets.

    Regardless of the type of bed linen you prefer, the quality, feel, and price will vary depending on the manufacturer. This necessitates the importance of either opting for a brand you trust or comparing similar options between different brands. 

    Sheet Type





    Crisp or soft

    Durable, breathable, softens over time

    Prone to wrinkling


    Soft, smooth

    Durable, breathable, naturally cooling

    May be more expensive


    Crisp, cool

    Breathable, softens after use

    May be more expensive, may feel scratchy at first


    Soft, silky

    Naturally cooling, less likely to wrinkle

    May be more expensive


    Smooth, cool

    Best for skin and hair

    May be more expensive, requires more care


    Smooth, cool

    Cooling, good for skin and hair

    May be more expensive, requires more care


    Smooth, lightweight

    Affordable, wrinkle-resistant

    Synthetic, less breathable, sleeps hot


    Soft, warm

    Less likely to wrinkle, keeps you warm

    Prone to pilling, not ideal for hot sleepers


    Soft, warm

    Affordable, easy to care for

    Synthetic, prone to pilling, sleeps hot

    1. Cotton

    Cotton is the most common material used for bedding. This natural fiber is versatile, durable, and easy to clean. Cotton bed sheets are usually affordable and last a long time, making them a practical choice for most sleepers.

    You can also choose from different kinds of cotton, which range in feel, quality, and price. Cotton sheets may feel stiff at first but tend to soften over time the more you wash them.

    Organic Cotton

    Ethically sourced and sustainably farmed, organic cotton is a great choice for environmentally conscious sleepers who want the smooth, breathable feel of cotton sheets. Organic cotton sheets are made from cotton grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, making them an eco-friendly option.

    Egyptian Cotton

    Egyptian cotton is the highest-quality cotton available. Sheets made from Egyptian cotton are known to be thin and smooth with incredible durability. Because of their high quality, Egyptian cotton sheets are typically more expensive than other cotton options. Be aware that some manufacturers blend Egyptian cotton with other types of cotton to create more affordable sheets. Be sure to check the label to confirm the percentage of Egyptian cotton used.

    Cotton Blends

    Sheets made with a cotton blend combine cotton with other materials to improve durability and reduce costs. Common cotton blends feature polyester, linen, or wool.

    Pima Cotton

    Pima is a long-staple cotton known for its softness and durability. Pima sheets are less likely to wrinkle, making them a great low-maintenance option. Many hotels use Pima sheets because they are comfortable, long-lasting, and less prone to pilling than other cotton sheets.

    Supima Cotton

    Like Pima, Supima is known for its strong, extra-long cotton fibers that provide superior durability and softness. However, Supima specifically refers to this type of cotton grown only in the United States, accounting for under 1% of the global cotton market. Sheets made with Supima cotton are known to be exceptionally soft and durable.

    If you’re looking for the softest bed sheets, most sources will point you to Supima, Pima, and Egyptian cotton options, but Purple’s bestselling SoftStretch® Sheets feature a silky soft feel with added stretch that allows you to feel the full comfort of your mattress. 

    American Upland Cotton

    American upland cotton is the most commonly used cotton in the United States. Consisting of shorter fibers, American upland is a little coarser than Egyptian or Pima cotton, but sheets made with this type of cotton are much more affordable.

    Purple Complete Comfort Sheets

    Enjoy crisp, breathable sheets made with 100% cotton with the Complete Comfort sheet set from Purple.

    2. Bamboo

    Bamboo bed sheets are a natural option with cooling, hypoallergenic, and antimicrobial properties, making them a great choice for sensitive skin. Bamboo grows quickly and needs few resources to thrive, making it a more sustainable material for a variety of products, including bed sheets and furniture. 

    The most common type of bamboo bedding is bamboo viscose or rayon, which refers to the process of extracting cellulose from bamboo stalks and turning the pulp into fabric. Sheets made from a bamboo blend contain both bamboo and other materials, such as cotton or polyester, making them less soft but more affordable.

    Purple SoftStretch® Sheets

    Stay cool and comfortable with Purple SoftStretch® sheets, made from a bamboo blend for a silky-soft feel.

    3. Linen

    Light and airy, linen is often used for summer or hot weather clothing. This makes linen bed sheets a great option for hot sleepers and warmer climates. This type of sheet usually feels stiff at first and will get softer and smoother over time. Linen sheets are also durable and can withstand ample washing.

    4. Tencel™ 

    Tencel is a brand name for lyocell, which refers to fabrics made out of wood pulp from eucalyptus trees. The process of creating lyocell fabrics entails recycling and repurposing any waste generated, making Tencel™ sheets another eco-friendly option.

    Bed sheets made out of Tencel fabric are smooth and moisture-wicking, making them a great choice for hot sleepers. Tencel sheets are also less likely to wrinkle.

    5. Silk

    Silk is a natural fiber produced from silkworms. Spinning this fiber and weaving it into fabric is a labor-intensive process, making it one of the most expensive fabrics on the market. Often associated with luxury, silk is lightweight and smooth with a stunning sheen.

    Silk sheets are cooling and naturally hypoallergenic, and their smoothness causes less friction than other fabrics, which can prevent frizzy and tangled hair. Often, sleepers will use silk pillowcases rather than a complete silk sheet set.

    Because of how delicate the material is, silk sheets require much more care than other fabrics. Paired with the high price tag, few consumers prefer silk sheets for those reasons. 

    6. Satin

    If you want the luxurious feel of silk without the labor-intensive care process and steep price tag, opt for satin sheets instead. Satin has a similar texture and sheen to silk but comes at a lower price. If you can’t get comfortable in bed because you’re too warm or your sheets cling to you as you shift, satin sheets may be an option worth trying.

    Graphic depicting best use cases for different types of sheets.

    7. Polyester

    Polyester is a synthetic fiber that is long-lasting and affordable. While pure polyester sheets tend to be quite rough, they can be combined with other materials to create much softer polyester blends.

    One of the most common polyester blends contains cotton. Cotton-polyester blends make for softer sheets that are sturdy, inexpensive, and easy to wash.

    8. Flannel

    Flannel is a loosely woven fabric, typically cotton or wool, that’s brushed to create a soft and fuzzy texture. This makes for cozy sheets and blankets — perfect for colder weather.

    Like plaid flannel shirts, flannel sheets come in different patterns as well as solid colors. Generally, flannel sheets are easy to care for and tend to retain their softness over time.

    9. Microfiber

    Microfiber fabrics consist of tightly woven synthetic fibers, often a combination of polyester and nylon. While microfiber sheets may be more affordable than other options, they tend to be lower quality and are prone to pilling.

    If you’re deciding between microfiber and cotton sheets, microfiber sheets are cheaper and easier to wash. However, you’ll have less variety with microfiber options, and they tend to be less breathable than cotton sheets.

    Illustrations of different types of sheet weaves, including percale, sateen, jersey, dobby, and twill.

    Understanding Sheet Weaves

    The materials used in your sheets impact their feel, but how those materials are woven together also affects softness, thickness, and durability. Depending on the weave, your sheets may feel crisp, smooth, soft, or textured. The most common weaves for sheets include percale and sateen, but there are a few other weaves to consider.




    A balanced cotton weave with a crisp, breathable feel allowing the most air flow


    An over-under cotton weave with a silky smooth texture


    Knitted (not woven) cotton with a soft, warm feel


    Woven on a dobby loom, featuring small geometric patterns for texture


    A thicker weave with a diagonal pattern for a heavier, sturdier sheet

    Thread Count Meaning

    Thread count refers to how many threads there are in a square inch of fabric. What’s the best thread count for sheets? It’s often said that the higher the thread count, the softer the sheets. But this isn’t always the case, especially with fabrics that are measured in a different way, such as silk, flannel, and microfiber. Manufacturers may not list thread counts because this measurement doesn’t always correlate with quality. 

    Silk is measured in momme, which accounts for how much silk by weight is present in a space of 100 yards by 45 inches, with 17-22 momme being ideal for silk sheets. Other materials, including flannel, microfiber, and jersey, are measured by weight, using grams per square meter (GSM) to assess quality. 

    In addition to thread count and similar measurements, you can also consider the ply of your sheets, which is how many fibers are used to form a single thread. Single-ply sheets, for example, use only a single fiber to create a thread. In most cases, double- or triple-ply sheets are actually rougher than one-play sheets because they combine cheaper materials.

    Sheet Type

    Thread Count/Grams Per Square Meter



    Egyptian cotton


    Percale weave


    Sateen weave













    170+ GSM


    150 GSM


    90-120 GSM

    What Sheet Material Is Right for You?

    Before you choose from different types of bed sheets, it’s important to consider your preferences. Here are a few things to ask yourself when choosing new bed sheets:

    • What textures do you prefer? Some sleepers like smooth, soft sheets while others prefer thicker, warmer options.
    • Are you a hot or cold sleeper? Flannel and jersey sheets will keep you warm, while cotton blends, bamboo, and TencelTM sheets are great for keeping cool.
    • Do you have allergies? If so, you may want to choose hypoallergenic sheets to prevent flare-ups.
    • Do you move around while you sleep? If you toss and turn, you’ll probably want smooth sheets rather than sheets that cling to you.
    • What size do you need? Account for mattress thickness as well as the length and width of your bed.
    • Which matters more: durability or comfort? You can find sheets that offer a combination of comfort and durability depending on your preferences.
    • How do you want to wash and dry them? Some sheets have special care instructions, so be sure to check what’s best for the sheets you choose.
    • Do you care about thread count or weave? Generally, a higher thread count means softer sheets, and the weave can affect how your bedding feels.
    • How much do you want to spend on bedding? Materials like satin will be more costly than other fabrics like cotton or polyester.

    Check out our flowchart for a full guide on buying bed sheets that meet your sleep needs.

    Sleep Better With Purple

    If you’re looking for breathable sheets that keep you comfortable and cool, Purple’s sheet sets are designed for temperature regulation and durability. We offer two types of bed sheets to suit your preferences: bamboo viscose and 100% cotton. 

    Our bed sheets work best with Purple mattresses, but they’re soft and comfortable no matter what mattress you use. Choose from Purple SoftStretch® sheets, made out of a silky-smooth bamboo blend that keeps you cool and dry at night, and our Complete Comfort sheet set, which features a breathable cotton-Spandex blend for added stretch.


    Types of Sheets FAQ

    The best type of bed sheet will vary from person to person. Factors such as temperature, sensitivities, allergies, the size of your mattress, texture preferences, and budget will all impact your decision.

    Hot sleepers may prefer smooth, cool sheets made from materials like silk or bamboo. Choosing a breathable, moisture-wicking fabric like cotton can also keep you cool all year long.

    Thick, warm sheets like flannel or polyester may be ideal in the winter, especially if you get cold easily and prefer a cozy bed.

    If you tend to overheat, you may prefer a more breathable option like cotton or linen. Hot sleepers may not even need to swap out their summer sheets in the winter

    Bed sheets typically include fitted and flat sheets as well as pillowcases. You’ll need to know what these sheets look like and how they fit before making your bed.

    Your fitted sheet is the bottom layer, fitting around your entire mattress and mattress topper, if you have one. The flat or top sheet comes next, lying atop the fitted sheet and getting tucked in at the bottom and along the sides. Finally, your pillowcases slip over your pillows to protect them from discoloration and damage over time.

    There is no one name for thick bed sheets, as these can be made out of different materials and weaves. For a thicker bed sheet, look for flannel sheets or a sateen weave, which uses a pattern of four threads over and one thread under.

    About the authors

    Sydney Fuhrman

    Sydney brings more than five years of experience writing about a range of topics including health, lifestyle, and technology. They have a B.A. in Creative Writing and Literature from Lebanon Valley College. They’re a big fan of sharing dreams and discussing symbolism for fun. Sydney is always searching for tips to improve their sleep quality and hopes to help others get the best sleep possible with their writing. 

    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.