Bed Sheet Materials: Cotton, Wool, Silk, and Bamboo

Understanding what you need to know about different types of bed sheet materials. Comparing thread count, fibers and weaves.

Bed Sheet Materials: Cotton, wool, silk, and bamboo

Bed sheets can make all the difference when trying to get a comfortable night’s sleep, and everybody has their own preferences when it comes to determining the best material for the most comfortable night's sleep. Some of the most commonly available bed sheet materials are cotton, wool, silk, and bamboo. Each has its own benefits and properties: read on to learn about these fabrics, and to get a better idea of which bed sheets might be right for you.

Cotton Bed Sheets

Cotton bed sheets are by far the most common bed sheets on the market. They are also one of the most affordable materials for bed sheets. Cotton bed sheets can come in a variety of styles, including Egyptian cotton, flannel, jersey, and Pima cotton. Depending on the level of softness you prefer, as well as the price point you’re willing to spend, you might find yourself purchasing any number of cotton bed sheets.

Egyptian cotton, for starters, is the softest cotton available. Made from extra-long fibers that grow in drier climates, like North Africa, Egyptian cotton is the luxurious choice when it comes to cotton bed sheets. Flannel sheets, meanwhile, are a top pick for the cooler seasons, as this cotton material has been combed to create fluffier, softer fabric that helps maintain body heat. Jersey sheets are made from knit cotton, rather than woven, so they're as soft as a T-shirt. And Pima cotton is made from medium to extra-long fibers that come from the southwest region of the U.S. and similar climates.

Cotton is light, breathable, and easy to clean, making it ideal for bed sheets.

Wool Bed Sheets

Wool is much more rare when it comes to bed sheets. While wool duvets and wool blankets are a popular pick for colder climates, sheets made of wool are more of an anomaly. However, that being said, some flannel sheets are made out of wool rather than cotton.

Wool is a durable material, and for this reason, it can withstand frequent use, making it a material worth investing in. Wool is also insulating. The material’s fibers contain small air pockets that trap in heat and keep sleepers warm even when the temperature drops.

Finally, wool actually wicks moisture away from your skin, helping to keep you dry during a night sweat. This feature of the material helps facilitate evaporation, ultimately leading to a comfortable and regulated body temperature.

Silk Sheets

Silk sheets are often thought of as the epitome of luxury bedding. Made by silkworms, silk sheets are a higher cost and require delicate care; however, the payoff is worth it. As the name implies, this material feels silky, cool, and smooth on the body. Silk is also naturally hypoallergenic, so if you have sensitive skin, silk sheets are a smart choice.

High-quality silk bedding isn’t treated with chemicals because it is naturally smooth (unlike cotton sheets, which do undergo some chemical treatment to remain wrinkle-free). It is also naturally fire- and wrinkle-resistant, making it one of the most organic choices when it comes to bedding. Silk is also said to soothe sore skin because of its gentle quality.

Bamboo Sheets

Bamboo sheets can be compared to high-end Egyptian cotton because they have a similar feel of silky softness. While bamboo sheets are not as affordable as cotton, they offer further benefits when it comes to health and cleanliness. Bamboo sheets contain antibacterial and deodorizing properties that many shoppers are often attracted to. They are also hypoallergenic, durable, and lightweight.

Made from an organic and sustainable plant, bamboo sheets are thermo-regulating, meaning that they help your body to maintain a comfortable temperature no matter if it's a warm night or a chilly one. The material is moisture wicking, so as with wool sheets, bamboo sheets pull moisture away from the body, keeping you comfortable and dry while you sleep throughout the night.

When it comes to care, bamboo sheets should be dealt with more carefully. While a gentle rinse cycle and low tumble dry will do the trick, you’ll want to remember to retrieve them from the dryer as soon as they’re ready, as bamboo sheets are prone to wrinkles.

Now that you’ve got the facts, take some time to consider what type of bed sheet material may be best for your own bedding needs. Sheets are not something you want to skimp on, and making sure you choose a material that will work well with your needs is just as crucial as picking out a new mattress, pillow, or duvet set.

Resources— The Spruce, Orvis, Cozy Earth, Mattress Clarity