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POLYESTER VS COTTON sheets on a purple background

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Polyester vs cotton sheets: what’s the differences?

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When shopping for a good night's rest, no detail is too small to leave out. Sleep is an essential component of health and wellness. We would be zombies every day without it!

However, there are so many materials that bedding can be made of nowadays.

Understanding which fabrics, materials, and beddings can provide for the best and longest sleep can be a challenge. You might wonder about the difference between polyester vs cotton bed sheets. There are benefits and cons of each material. 

What is polyester?

A bed made of polyester sheets including a bedside table next to it

Definition

Polyester is a synthetic fabric, which means it was manufactured by people rather than being grown as a plant, like cotton. Although it feels very soft, it is actually made from a type of plastic.

Polyester is also typically combined with a blend of other fabrics woven together as microfibers. There can be hundreds of microfibers in a polyester sheet.

There are a few benefits to using polyester sheets. Firstly, they are often less expensive to purchase than cotton or naturally-grown sheets. This makes polyester an affordable option.

Polyester can actually be quite comfortable and very durable, too. Polyester is very smooth and lightweight. This prevents the fabric from ripping or tearing easily.

Such durability also makes polyester low maintenance and easy to use. This synthetic fabric can be put in the washing machine numerous times without the potential for damage to the sheets. It is a wrinkle-resistant fabric, so it will lay smoothly on a bed. It is also less likely to shrink or fade in color after being washed than other fabrics.

For someone who prefers natural or environmentally friendly fabric, it is not the best option. Polyester is synthetically made, so it utilizes an adapted mix of air, water, petroleum, and plastic to come together as a comfortable fabric.

Another con of polyester’s synthetic nature is that it is less breathable than cotton and can be stifling or lead to overheating for a person who gets hot during their sleep. It is more prone to static due to this heat-trapping.

Polyester is not known to soak up moisture easily, so it might not absorb sweat either.

What is cotton?

Definition

Cotton is a well-known plant that is used in many fabrics, from clothing to bed sheets.

For generations, cotton has been used to create soft fabrics, but it is not the only option on the market anymore. Furthermore, cotton comes in all different shapes and sizes nowadays.

There are 100% organic cotton sheets or cotton blend sheets, which combine cotton with another fabric, often to reduce the price.

Egyptian cotton is a luxurious, expensive cotton that has an incredibly soft feel. Pima, or Supima cotton is more available on the market and soft, too.

Top view of happy woman in bed hugging her quilt made of cotton

The main benefit to cotton sheets is that they are completely natural. This means they are hypoallergenic, so if you have any allergies or sensitive skin, using a hypoallergenic sheet (less likely to cause allergic reactions) is a great option for you.

While it is not common for people to be allergic to other types of fabric, cotton is usually a safe bet for anyone with sensitivities.

Cotton is also known to be extremely soft and gets softer every time it goes in the washing machine. Cotton fibers can often hold up in strength to many washes, though some pilling or color fading may occur.

Finally, cotton is very breathable, which allows a person to feel cooler at night. The way cotton is woven together allows for heat to escape out into your bedroom, rather than get trapped in the bed with you.

This might be optimal for bed sheets, since you want sheets to feel light and airy, rather than heavy. Most likely, if you are looking for heavier and warmer blankets, you will purchase an additional comforter or blankets.

Cotton also naturally wicks, or repels, moisture due to its weaving, so if you spill or sweat onto your sheets, you can rest assured that the moisture will evaporate rather than stay trapped for hours.

As discussed above, cotton can fade in color over time, more so than other fabrics. Because it is natural, it does not always hold the dye for as many years as other bedsheets.

Furthermore, over time, cotton will wrinkle more often and become less durable, possibly pilling, than other fabrics. This is again because cotton is a natural, woven fiber from plants, and there is only so long it can last.

Another drawback of cotton sheets is that they are typically more expensive than other fabrics. Because it is desirable to many people and takes a lot of time and effort to grow, harvest, and weave together into final products, cotton is often costly.

The higher the thread count, the higher the cost, as well. And if you opt for Egyptian cotton, rather than Pima cotton, you are likely to pay more for your sheets too.

Duvet, blanket, comforter: see the differences

A stack of books, coffee cup and glasses lying on a bed of cotton sheets

Polyester vs cotton sheets: what’s the difference?

Determining whether polyester vs cotton sheets are best for you can be quite easy if you weigh the pros and cons of each, and think critically about which fabric would be more ideal for your nightly sleep.

Either sheet can have a high thread count, so if you care most about this factor, look at the thread counts listed on the sheet’s packaging. Cotton can have a very high and luxurious thread count.

Both sheets are comfortable, but cotton is more well-known for comfort.

Cotton will cool you down and keep you cool easier than polyester will.

Polyester should be more durable than cotton, even with many washes. It will not wrinkle or tear as easily. However, cotton can stay pretty durable, too.

If you are highly allergic to products or have sensitive skin, you are likely better off with cotton sheets since they are hypoallergenic and natural.

If this is your priority, cotton sheets are the clear winner for you, since they are natural and made from plants.

Polyester is much more affordable than cotton, and this will usually win out price-wise every time. Some types of cotton are more affordable than others.

Both sheets are extremely easy to clean. Polyester might not lose its color as easily as cotton, but cotton should not get damaged in the washing machine.

What's better: polyester or cotton sheets?

Based on what you’ve learned today, what do you like better? You, hopefully, do not need to consider polyester vs cotton sheets anymore, and should be ready to make your pick. The fact of the matter is that what is “better” is different for everyone.

And until you get out there and try new sheets, you will never know which one is better for you! 

Polysleep answers some of your questions

A smiling young woman is sitting on her bed wearing her headphones

Are polyester sheets warmer than cotton sheets?

Here at Polysleep, we are always looking for the best ways to get a full night’s sleep. Typically, polyester sheets can be warmer and more moisture-trapping than cotton sheets.

If you prefer a cool night’s sleep over a warm night’s sleep, it is likely that cotton sheets are better for you. However, you can also consider getting polyester bed sheets but supplementing them with a PolyCool mattress topper. The PolyCool product line works specifically to ensure that you do not overheat or feel night sweats when you sleep.

Are polyester sheets good quality?

Polyester sheets can absolutely be good quality. They last for a very long time and are known to be smooth and soft. Every person will have their preference, whether that is polyester or cotton. However, both fabrics have unique pros to offer. If you are looking for more quality bedding, check out an array of Polysleep’s mattresses. By picking the right mattress, sheets, blankets, and pillows, you can optimize your sleep.

There are benefits and drawbacks to any bedding product that you will buy. When you are considering which fabric or material is right for you, remember this list of pros and cons. Or, if you would like to, you can try both polyester and cotton sheets and determine your favorite pick from there.

Baby girl holding her hat and sitting on a bed made up of cotton sheets

Here are more bed sheet comparison items articles

Both comfortable sheet texture and environment temperature are important factors in how well you sleep. So if you want to feel completely catered to, try a PolyCool product today. Without fail, Polysleep, and PolyCool, can help you stay cool or warm all year long.

See our Polycool mattress topper!

Polycool certified antimicrobial mattress topper


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