Bamboo vs. Cotton Sheets: Which One is the Better Option?

Stack of white clean sheets

Fresh, new, clean sheets are the best feeling in the world. But did you know that the type of material can make a huge difference in terms of sleep quality and comfort?

While cotton sheets are usually the default choice, bamboo sheets have been on the rise in terms of popularity. However, if you’ve never heard of the latter before, you might be thinking, “What are bamboo sheets?”, “Are bamboo sheets good?” or “Are bamboo sheets worth it?”

Since there are various factors to consider when buying new sheets, it can feel a bit overwhelming. But don’t you worry! In this article, we’ll talk about some of the main differences between bamboo vs. cotton sheets as well as their pros and cons. Let’s begin!

The Difference Between Bamboo and Cotton Sheets

What’s the difference between bamboo vs. cotton sheets? Well, there are actually many contrasting characteristics between the two bedding varieties, such as plant material, fabric types, durability, and cooling regulation. Let’s take a closer look at each of these in more detail.

1. Plant Material

What are bamboo sheets made of? Bamboo sheets (like the ones from our Bamboo Bed Sheets and Pillowcases Set) are essentially made from natural bamboo fiber. Bamboo plants are often considered sustainable because they don’t require a lot of water and grow quickly in a variety of soils and environmental conditions. The manufacturing of bamboo bedding products is also eco-friendly since it leaves a smaller carbon footprint and requires little to no use of pesticides, fertilizers, and other agricultural chemicals.

So, how are bamboo sheets made? Basically, after the bamboo is harvested, the woody parts are mechanically crushed. Then, the walls of the bamboo are ret and washed using natural enzymes to extract fibers. Once the fibers are collected, they’re spun into yarn and woven into fabric.

Cotton sheets are made from the cotton plant, which is the most widely used crop in the world. Unlike bamboo, cotton is not as environmentally friendly since it requires more water and uses a lot of pesticides and harmful chemicals during the growing process. However, organic cotton is always a better option when choosing bedding material since it’s grown with fewer chemicals. Just make sure to look for organic certifications like the ones from Organic Content Standards (OCS) and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).

During the cotton manufacturing process, raw cotton bales are cleaned, carded, blended, and spun to produce cotton fibers. These fibers are then woven into fabric which can then be used to produce the sheets you sleep on!

2. Fabric Types

There are generally four types of bamboo sheets with different manufacturing processes and environmental impacts.

  • Bamboo Viscose/Rayon: Viscose sheets are naturally soft, hypoallergenic, odor-resistant, and thermoregulating. Viscose itself isn’t toxic or polluting, but its manufacturing process uses chemicals like carbon disulfide that are harmful to the environment. If you decide that rayon sheets are for you, look for manufacturers with proper waste treatment guidelines and products treated without bleach and zinc sulphate.
  • Bamboo Lyocell/Tencel: Bamboo lyocell is one of the best options since it’s the most sustainable and non-toxic material. It produces non-hazardous waste, requires less energy and water during production, and is stronger and softer than bamboo viscose.
  • Bamboo Modal: Like viscose, bamboo modal uses chemicals during its manufacturing, except there’s an extra process used to stretch the fibers and make them finer, lighter, stronger, and much softer.
  • Bamboo Linen: Bamboo linen is mechanically produced without the use of chemicals and has a similar manufacturing process to that of regular linen. However, this fabric type is slightly coarse and easily wrinkles, so you’ll want to iron it after washing.

There are also fabrics that are blended with bamboo and cotton, so make sure you read packaging labels clearly if you want 100% bamboo sheets.

Bamboo fabrics also have several weaving styles that result in different textures: percale, sateen, and twill. Percale weaves allow for more breathability while twill weaves make sheets more durable. If you want the feeling of luxury and softness, then sateen weaves are more suitable for you.

On the other hand, cotton sheets come in a wide variety of different fabrics. In general, however, there are three types that you’ll often come across.

  • Egyptian Cotton: This type of cotton is considered the best because it has a soft, gentle, and cooling feel. However, Egyptian cotton requires extra care when it comes to cleaning.
  • Pima Cotton: Pima cotton is the second best type of material and is pretty soft. Compared to Egyptian cotton, however, Pima cotton is a little rougher.
  • American Upland Cotton: Sheets that are labeled as “100% cotton” are usually of this type. Compared to Egyptian and Pima cotton, American upland cotton is rougher.

Just like bamboo fabrics, cotton fabrics also have different weave patterns: percale, sateen, twill, and flannel. Sateen cotton is the softest among these while twill cotton typically isn’t as soft as the other options. In addition, percale cotton has a smooth, crisp feel and flannel cotton has a cozy and fuzzy appeal.

3. Durability

Compared to cotton, bamboo fibers are highly durable because they’re naturally long, making them less susceptible to tearing and separating. However, it’s still a good idea to wash bamboo sheets on a gentle cycle in cold water and air or tumble dry them on low heat. If not cared for properly, bamboo sheets can pill. But with the right care, bamboo sheets can last for five years or even longer!

Cotton is stronger when wet which means it can withstand many cycles in the wash. However, it can still tear under stress, so it’s best to use cold water and a bleach-free mild detergent when washing sheets made of this material. Depending on how often they’re used, cotton sheets can last anywhere from two to ten years.

4. Cooling Regulation

Do bamboo sheets make you sweat? No! One of the benefits of bamboo sheets is that you won’t feel as if you’re overheating at night. Since bamboo material is naturally light and moisture-wicking, sheets made from this type of fiber are light, breathable, and won’t stick to your skin (even in the hottest temperatures). So if you’re wondering “Do bamboo sheets keep you cool?”, the answer is yes.

Cotton sheets generally retain more heat than bamboo ones because they tend to have a higher thread count. You can still find high-thread cotton sheets with more breathability, but they can be a little more expensive.

If you’re looking for other sheets to keep you cool at night, feel free to check out our Cooling Microfiber Fitted Bed Sheets!

Stack of clean bed linens in bedroom

Bamboo Sheets vs. Cotton: Common Questions

Now that you know some of the main differences between bamboo vs. cotton sheets, let’s take a look at some common questions that might make your decision a bit easier.

Which is Softer: Bamboo or Cotton?

Softness depends on something called thread count (which we briefly mentioned before). Thread count refers to the total number of fiber strands woven into a sheet (counting length and width). Generally speaking, a higher thread count indicates softer material.

Compared to cotton ones, bamboo sheets are typically softer despite their lower thread count (250 to 350) because bamboo fibers are naturally softer than cotton. So, how soft are bamboo sheets? Very. Think about a smooth, velvety type of soft.

However, cotton sheets, especially those with a high thread count, are incredibly soft as well. If you want the feeling of pure luxury, choose cotton sheets that have a minimum thread count of 400.

Are Bamboo Sheets Healthy?

Yes! Bamboo bed sets (like our Bamboo Bed Sheets and Pillowcases Set) are great for your skin and overall health, especially if you have asthma or other respiratory problems. With their hypoallergenic and natural antibacterial properties, bamboo sheets are resistant to dust mites, pathogens, and bed bugs!

Cotton doesn’t have any specific health benefits but it’s still gentle to the skin.

Bamboo vs. Cotton Sheets: Pros and Cons

To summarize the differences between bamboo and cotton sheets, here are each of their pros and cons.

Pros and Cons of Bamboo Sheets

Pros

Cons

 Generally environmentally friendly

 Can be more expensive

 Durable

 May require more care when cleaning

 Soft and comfortable

 Sometimes uses chemical processing

 Breathable

 Can wrinkle (depending on the weave)

 Hypoallergenic

 Keeps you cool at night


Stack of gray bamboo sheets

Pros and Cons of Cotton Sheets

Pros

Cons

 Soft and comfortable

 Not eco-friendly

 Low maintenance & easy to clean

 Retains more heat

 Typically not expensive

 Can tear under stress

 Durable

 May shrink when washing

 Can wrinkle (depending on the wave)


Stack of white cotton sheets

Bamboo vs. Cotton Sheets: The Final Verdict

Now that you know what to look for in bamboo sheets as well as cotton sheets, it’s time to make a decision. But the important thing to remember is that there’s no one-size-fits-all variety of sheets. Whichever option appeals to you and your needs is not necessarily going to for others. So when it comes to choosing between bamboo sheets vs. cotton sheets, pick the one that you’re most comfortable with!


Contributing Writer: Rebecca Lee