April 23, 2024 6 min read

When you go to sleep, your body is in direct contact with your sheets, making the material you use an extremely important part of a good night’s sleep. Both rayon and cotton are some of the most popular choices when it comes to bedding in the marketplace today. But what’s the difference when it comes to rayon vs cotton, and what are the properties of these fabrics? We’re here to compare and contrast the many different qualities of both rayon and cotton for bed sheets, so you can make the right decision to suit your unique needs.

Understanding Rayon

Before we do a deep dive on rayon vs cotton which one is good for bed sheets, let’s define rayon and what this fabric is. Is rayon a natural fiber and what are the advantages of rayon? Read on to learn more.

Definition and production process of Rayon

What is rayon fabric? Rayon is a silky, ultra soft fabric that may also be referred to as viscose rayon, Tencel, modal, or acetate. This material is denser than cotton and linen in most cases, but it largely depends on how the material is spun and woven. One easy way to remember what rayon fabric is is that it’s a general term used to describe any textile made from cellulose. Those cellulose fibers are the building blocks of many plants, so rayon can come from things like straw, cotton waste, and other natural materials. However, rayon usually comes from the wood pulp of the pine, eucalyptus, or beech tree.

So, is rayon natural? While rayon fabric does contain some natural fibers, it’s not quite as eco-friendly as organic cotton or linen. According to one statistic, out of the 6.5 million metric tons of rayon produced each year, nearly half comes from endangered or ancient forests. This is one of the disadvantages of rayon which is especially important if you’re looking for something sustainable that’s better for the environment.

Characteristics of Rayon bed sheets

When you’re looking for new sheets, you’ll probably want to know: is rayon soft? When you compare rayon vs silk, the two materials are quite similar in feel. That’s because rayon was first invented as a substitute for silk during the 1800s, and it still has a smooth, soft feel today. Some people consider rayon to be a semi-synthetic fiber because it comes from chemically processed pulp during production. While the material starts in its natural form, chemical processes are used to treat the cellulose fiber, which gives the fabric its silky-smooth feel. Overall, either rayon or cotton can work well as sheets because they both make a very comfortable and soft fabric. So, is rayon breathable? Rayon sheets tend to absorb moisture much more than cotton, so it may cause you to overheat because it’s not quite as breathable as cotton sheets.

Pros and cons of using Rayon for bed sheets

Let’s dive into some of the pros and cons of using rayon for bed sheets.


  • When you look at rayon fabric vs cotton in terms of price, rayon is usually more affordable especially when compared to organic cotton
  • Rayon fiber has a nice silky finish that drapes beautifully to prevent wrinkles
  • If you want the look and feel of luxurious fabric on a budget, rayon sheets are a good choice
  • Rayon resists pilling


  • Since chemicals are used to produce rayon, it can be harmful to the environment
  • The fabric isn’t as easy to clean as cotton and may need to be dry-cleaned
  • Rayon becomes weaker when wet, so it doesn’t last as long as cotton
  • Because it’s absorbent, rayon traps sweat and body oils and may lead to overheating
Sand Linen sheets Linen bedding

Exploring Cotton

Navy Blue Linen bed Sheets Light Grey Linen bed Sheets

Now, let’s examine the definition and cultivation process of cotton, its qualities, and more, so you can compare the two materials.

Definition and Cultivation Process of Cotton

Cotton is a natural fabric that is cultivated from the cotton plant, which is grown all over the world. Unfortunately, conventional cotton is grown using pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and other chemicals that don’t make this type of cotton fabric very eco-friendly. However, organic cotton is made without these chemicals and follows a strict set of guidelines throughout the growing, cultivation, and manufacturing process to ensure you’re getting a safe, environmentally friendly product that’s also good for your health. Cotton is highly breathable so when you compare rayon vs cotton in summer, cotton is by far the better choice.

Qualities of Cotton Bed Sheets

When you look at rayon sheets vs cotton sheets, cotton is by far a better choice. This soft material is extremely easy to clean and can be washed in the washer and dryer for simple maintenance and care. Cotton fibers are also lightweight and create a breathable fabric to keep you cool in the summer yet toasty warm in the winter. Overall, cotton sheets are much more versatile than rayon sheets when you look at the big picture. Unlike most synthetic fabrics, cotton doesn’t release microplastics into the environment when it’s washed. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, cotton is also naturally hypoallergenic and non-irritating.

Advantages and disadvantages of choosing Cotton for bed sheets

Here are some of the pros and cons of choosing cotton for your bed sheets.


  • Cotton is natural, moisture-wicking, and breathable, and organic cotton is hypoallergenic and odor-free
  • If you’re looking for a low-maintenance sheet set, cotton is a good choice since it’s easy to clean
  • When comparing rayon vs cotton for breathability, cotton is a much better option
  • Cotton is a very durable fabric so it’s great for long-term use


  • Cotton fabrics may fade over time and the color may bleed easily when you wash it
  • This material is not wrinkle-resistant
  • Cotton can shrink if it’s washed in hot water
  • Traditional or conventional cotton products including sheets and t-shirts tend to contain a variety of chemicals
Linen bed sheets

Comparison Between Rayon and Cotton for Bed Sheets

Now, let’s compare rayon sheets vs cotton sheets in a more detailed way.

Material properties:

Softness and comfort: Cotton sheets compared to rayon sheets are very soft, however, rayon has a much silkier, smoother feel. Rayon almost feels like artificial silk in terms of how it feels to the touch.

Breathability and moisture absorption: When you look at rayon fabric vs cotton in terms of breathability, cotton is the clear winner. The same goes for moisture absorption, since cotton is much more breathable, while rayon threads tend to absorb moisture that could make you sweat during the night.

Durability and longevity: As far as rayon sheets vs cotton sheets in the durability department, both will last a long time. However, these two materials are not quite as durable as some other alternatives, like linen, which is a much more durable material.

Maintenance and care requirements

Environmental impact and sustainability considerations: Cotton plants require a lot of water to grow, but overall, this material is much more eco-friendly and more sustainable. That’s particularly true if you’re purchasing organic cotton sheets. Unlike cotton, rayon contributes to deforestation and almost always uses a mixture of chemicals during the production process.

Cost comparison: High-quality cotton sheets usually cost more than rayon sheets. However, lower-quality cotton products cost less than rayon. If you’re opting for 100% organic cotton sheets, you’ll pay more but it’s totally worth the investment.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Rayon and Cotton Bed Sheets

Here are some factors to consider when choosing rayon sheets vs cotton sheets.

Personal preferences for texture and feel

If you love a silky, smooth feel, then rayon is probably the better choice. However, if it’s the softness you’re after, we recommend purchasing Egyptian cotton, Pima cotton, or organic cotton sheets.

Climate and Sleep Environment

For those who tend to sleep hot at night, cotton is by far a better choice. This breathable fabric wicks moisture away from the body, while rayon sheets tend to trap body heat as well as many other synthetic fabrics.

Allergies and sensitivities

Avoid buying anything that has been chemically dyed or treated if you have sensitive skin or allergies. Organically grown natural fabrics are always the best option here, which includes certified organic cotton.

Budget constraints

When you compare rayon to cotton in terms of price, it all comes down to the brand and the quality. Overall, rayon is cheaper than cotton, but some lower-quality cotton products might cost less.

Stonewashed linen sheet set

Final Thoughts on rayon vs cotton

So, is rayon or cotton right for you? While rayon is silky and smooth to the touch, it’s not as versatile, breathable, or eco-friendly as cotton. Overall, the type of fabric you choose for your bed sheets comes down to personal preferences and your individual needs. If you like soft and breathable sheets that are easy to clean, cotton is the one for you. However, if it’s a silky and wrinkle-free sheet you’re after, rayon is a better choice. No matter what you choose, it’s crucial to invest in high-quality bed sheets to ensure that you’re getting the healthiest and best quality sleep possible.