What Are The Different Types Of Bed Sheets?

Written by
Purple Staff
Last Updated
January 31, 2023
min read

There are many different types of bed sheets, such as cotton, linen, bamboo, and silk. But there’s more to choosing bed sheets than their materials – from size to weave to thread count, there are other factors that differentiate one sheet from another.

We want you to have a good night's sleep with the right bed sheets. In this guide, you’ll learn the different kinds of bed sheets, and what to look for when considering which type is ideal for you.

Understanding Sheet Material Types

While there are certainly quality standards for each type, there’s no one “best” bed sheet material that will be perfect for everyone. Each type has its pros and cons for different types of sleepers. For example, a hot sleeper might not want bed sheets that retain a lot of warmth, while the same bed sheets can be a godsend for cold sleepers.

Common Bed Sheet Materials

types of bed sheets

Here are some of the common bed sheet materials:

Cotton Sheets

Cotton is the most common material used for bedding and bed sheets. In fact, 81% of consumers prefer this material! 

It’s a natural fiber that’s very versatile, durable, and easy to clean. Cotton bed sheets are usually more affordable and last a long time, making them a practical choice. There are also different kinds of cotton that you can choose from, which range in quality and price. Keep in mind allergies when shopping for sheets.

Egyptian Cotton

The highest-quality cotton you can get is Egyptian cotton. As its name implies, this kind of cotton is grown in Egypt, where the climate allows for the cotton fibers to grow very long, creating extra-long staples. This kind of cotton makes for thin and smooth sheets with incredible durability.

Because of its high quality, Egyptian cotton sheets also come with a high price tag. There are manufacturers who will blend Egyptian cotton with other types of cotton to create more affordable sheets, but the quality will not be the same. If you want cotton sheets, check the label for the percentage of Egyptian cotton actually used – some sheets may have as low as 1% cotton material.

Pima Cotton

Pima, also known as Supima, is a long-staple cotton sourced from the Southwestern United States. It’s soft, durable, and isn’t prone to wrinkles after washing, making it a great low-maintenance option.

American Upland Cotton

If a bed sheet’s labels say “100% cotton” or don’t specify the type of cotton it is, it’s most probably American Upland. The most commonly used cotton in the United States, it’s made with much shorter fibers. This makes the fabric a little coarser than Egyptian and Pima, but it’s much more affordable.

Flannel Sheets

While cotton is usually known to keep you cool, this is not the case for flannel bed sheets. Flannel is a loosely woven fabric that’s brushed to create a soft and fuzzy texture. This makes for very cozy sheets and blankets – perfect for colder climates and sleepers.

Tencel Sheets

Tencel is a brand name for fabrics that are made out of wood pulp, usually sourced from eucalyptus trees. Bed sheets made out of Tencel fabric are breathable and moisture-wicking, making them a great choice for hot sleepers.

While Tencel sheets are wrinkle-resistant, they do require a bit more care than regular cotton sheets. They need to be separated from other laundry and should only be washed using gentle cycle settings. 

Hang-drying these sheets will help them last longer, but it’s possible to tumble-dry them on a low setting. Tencel dries quickly though, so you don’t need to worry about long drying times.

Linen Sheets

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. Linen also has a distinct look and feel, giving your bedroom a cozy countryside vibe. It’s the preferred fabric of 1% of consumers.

Unfortunately, this type of sheet usually starts out as quite stiff. However, it is very durable and can withstand a lot of washing. Linen will also get softer and smoother over time.

Bamboo Sheets

For those who want an eco-friendly option, go for bamboo pulp bed sheets. Bamboo grows very quickly and it needs very little resources to thrive, making it a sustainable source for all sorts of materials, from bed sheets to furniture to other household items.

Bamboo sheets are also known to have cooling and antibacterial properties, making them a great option for those with sensitive skin.

Silk Sheets

Silk is made from silkworm cocoons that are spun into fibers and woven into fabric. Making silk is an incredibly labor-intensive process, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the pricer fabrics out there. Silk is often associated with luxury, especially as it has an incredibly smooth finish, is lightweight, and has a stunning sheen to it.

Silk’s smoothness causes less friction than other fabrics, so using silk bed sheets can help prevent frizzy and tangled hair, especially for those who tend to move a lot during sleep. However, keep in mind that silk needs a lot more care than other fabrics – this may be why only 3% of consumers prefer this fabric.

Satin Sheets

If you want the luxurious feel of silk without the labor-intensive care process and steep price tag, go with satin sheets instead. Satin also has a similar texture and sheen to silk but comes at a much lower price, so it’s no wonder that it’s the choice of 2% of consumers.

Polyester Sheets

If you’re looking for bed sheets that require the least amount of care, polyester sheets may be the way to go. Polyester is a synthetic fiber that is long-lasting, quite affordable, and very easy to care for. While pure polyester fabrics tend to be quite rough, they can be combined with other materials such as cotton to create polyester blends, which are much softer and make for comfier sheets.

Cotton-Polyester Blends

Blending polyester with cotton will give you the best of both worlds – you get cottony soft sheets but sturdy and easy to care for.

Bed Sheet Sizes

As mattresses come in different sizes, so do bed sheets. If you’re buying pre-made bed sheets, the sizes should be printed on the label. However, should you want to double-check or have custom sheets made. 

Read our guide on bed sheet sizes.

What To Look For When Choosing Bed Sheets

When choosing bed sheets, there are a couple of things that need to be considered. Here are some of them:

  • Mattress size: You need to make sure that your sheets fit your mattress, or else you’ll end up with sheets that are too loose or too small to fit over the corners. All common mattress sizes have a corresponding bed sheet size, but you can also have custom sheets made if you own a unique size. Keep in mind any mattress accessories that add height to your mattress, such as a mattress topper.
  • Fabric: Different kinds of bed sheets offer different benefits, and what’s ideal for one person may not be great for another. Choose a bed sheet that will give you the feel you want and fits the type of sleeper you are. For example, hot sleepers may prefer light and airy linen, but cold sleepers may prefer warm and cozy flannel.
  • Thread count: Thread count refers to how many threads there are in a square inch of fabric. 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 (e.g. silk, flannel, microfiber, etc).

You may enjoy reading our guide on how to choose bed sheets.

Purple’s Bed Sheets

If the usual bed sheets don’t quite make the cut for you, check out Purple’s various sheet sets. Purple has designed its bed sheets to work best with Purple mattresses, but they’re soft and comfortable no matter what mattress you use. 

Purple’s Complete Comfort sheet set is made out of a breathable cotton-Spandex blend for added stretch. Meanwhile, the SoftStretch sheets are made out of a silky-smooth bamboo blend that helps keep you cool and dry at night.

Key Takeaways

Different bed sheet materials result in different sleep experiences, so you should definitely take the time to choose one that fits you the best. Whether you’re looking for softness, durability, or suitability for allergies, we hope this quick guide has made it easier for you to find the perfect bed sheets for an optimal sleep experience!

Types Of Bed Sheets FAQs

How many types of bed sheets are there?

There are many types of bed sheets, differentiated by the type of material. Natural fibers such as cotton as well as synthetic fibers such as polyester are both popular choices for bedding. 

What is the best type of bed sheet to have?

The best type of bed sheet will differ from person to person. Factors such as temperature, sensitivities, allergies, and preference will all impact your decision.

What is a thick bed sheet called?

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.