May 09, 2024 7 min read

If you want to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep, choosing the right fabric for your sheets is crucial. And, while there are plenty of different fabrics available to choose from, one of the most common questions we get is which is better when it comes to Tencel vs cotton. Both cotton and Tencel fabric have their unique qualities, so it’s important to understand the differences and similarities between the two. Once you’re armed with this information, you’ll be able to determine which one is the best. Our goal is to help you make an informed decision, so you can decide between these two popular fabric choices for bed sheets.

What is Tencel?

What is Tencel fabric made of, and what is Tencel sheets, exactly? Let’s take a closer look at this popular bedding material.

Definition and origin of Tencel fabric

Is Tencel cotton and if not, what is it made of? This material is made from different types of wood pulp, although it’s most often sourced from eucalyptus wood. Once the wood is harvested, it is chemically processed and turned into a semi-synthetic cellulose fiber. While it’s not 100 percent organic, Tencel is more sustainable than traditional cotton production because it requires less water and fewer pesticides. Sometimes Tencel is blended with other materials like polyester or cotton, and it comes in two major options: lyocell or modal.

When you compare Tencel lyocell vs cotton, lyocell uses a safe, nontoxic solvent that is recaptured so 99 percent of it is re-used. This makes Tencel lyocell more sustainable than standard cotton, and it’s most commonly made with eucalyptus wood pulp. As for the modal version of Tencel fabric vs cotton, modal is similar to rayon because it has more strength when it gets wet. Tencel modal fabric is usually made from beech wood and requires the use of harsher chemicals during processing.

Properties of Tencel sheets

Tencel sheets are soft with a very smooth surface. They’re also hypoallergenic, making them a great option for people with allergies or sensitive skin. It’s also a very durable fabric and does a good job of resisting pilling to keep your sheets looking fresh and new for longer. The material also has moisture-wicking properties, so it works well as sheets, especially for hot sleepers. Is Tencel fabric stretchy? This material isn’t very stretchy unless it has elastane in the blend.

Overall, lyocell breathability is better than modal, which means that Tencel lyocell sheets are a good choice for a good night’s rest. However, cotton bed sheets are also very breathable, so they’re both winners in that department. Does Tencel shrink? The answer is maybe. Certain Tencel sheets can shrink under high heat in the washer and/or dryer, so make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

Pros and cons of Tencel sheets

When you think about Tencel vs cotton sheets which fabric is right for you, what are the disadvantages of Tencel? What about the advantages? Here are some pros and cons of choosing Tencel sheets for your bedroom.


  • Tencel fabric is so soft and smooth that it makes a great luxury bedding product and most have a silky sateen weave.
  • Tencel and cotton are both very breathable, so these sheets keep you cool and comfortable throughout the night.
  • Unlike traditional cotton, Tencel uses far less chemicals and water so it’s more sustainable.


  • Some Tencel bedding is expensive and may cost as much as Egyptian cotton sheets, while standard cotton sheets tend to be cheaper.
  • Certain Tencel lyocell sheets are dry-clean only, so they’re much more complicated to clean.
  • Specific Tencel bed sheets may be blended with rayon, which is chemically processed.

Sustainability and eco-friendliness of Tencel production

When it comes to Tencel being environmentally friendly, there are some important things to know. Make sure you purchase products made of Tencel fibers that come from eucalyptus trees for the most sustainable choice. If you’re buying Tencel sheets made of blended fabrics, check to ensure that they include organic cotton fibers or other organic materials. Overall, Tencel sheets are made using less pesticides and water than a lot of other materials in the bedding industry.

Sand Linen sheets Linen bedding

Understanding Cotton Sheets

Navy Blue Linen bed Sheets Light Grey Linen bed Sheets

Now, let’s take a look at cotton fabrics and cotton sheets.

Definition and origin of cotton fabric

Cotton fabric comes from the natural fibers of the cotton plant and is the most widely used material in the textile industry today, whether it’s used to make clothing, sheets, or other products. The material is produced using a machine called the cotton gin which removes the seeds from the cotton plants. The raw cotton fibers are turned into long strands, then spun into yarn and put through various chemical treatments. However, organic cotton does not use chemicals, pesticides, or fertilizers, making it a much more sustainable option and the best quality cottons available.

Properties of cotton sheets

Both Tencel and cotton sheets are extremely soft and durable. Cotton is also very breathable, making it a good choice for those who tend to get warm during the night. It’s important to note that not all cotton fabric is the same. For example, extra-long-staple cotton is more sustainable, lighter, and softer overall than “regular” cotton. Sheets with a higher thread count, like Egyptian and Pima cotton, tend to be higher in quality overall. Choosing organic cotton sheets is the best option if sustainability and quality are important to you.

Pros and cons of cotton sheets

Both Tencel and cotton sheets have pros and cons, so let’s examine the good and bad of cotton sheets.


  • Cotton sheets tend to get softer with every wash, making their smooth surface even more enjoyable to use the longer you have them.
  • Most cotton sheets are very breathable, so they’re perfect for those who want something breathable and moisture-wicking.
  • In terms of maintenance, when it comes to Tencel vs cotton, cotton sheet sets are the clear winner since they’re much easier to wash and dry.


  • Cotton bedsheets can shrink during washing if you don’t follow the care instructions carefully.
  • Some cotton products may fade in color over time, and they’re also not as wrinkle-resistant as Tencel sheets.
  • Your cotton sheet set may absorb sweat and stains, and it can also be vulnerable to mold growth.

Sustainability aspects of cotton production

While cotton sheets are made of natural materials, traditional cotton production uses a lot of water, and most plants are grown, harvested, and produced using a variety of dangerous and potentially toxic chemicals. When it comes to choosing quality cottons, make sure the product is 100 percent certified organic. When compared to most other fabrics, including Tencel, organic cotton is one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly products you can buy.

Linen bed sheets

Tencel vs Cotton

Let’s dive deeper into Tencel fabric vs cotton to help you decide which is the better fabric.

Fabric quality and feel

Tencel is much softer and smoother than most cotton fabrics. In terms of Tencel lyocell vs cotton for the fabric feel, lyocell is the winner. It has a smooth, silky surface that’s especially appealing to people with sensitive skin. However, high-quality cotton sheets are also very soft and smooth. Look for Supima cotton products if you want something extremely luxurious and smooth.

Breathability and moisture-wicking capabilities

Tencel lyocell sheets are naturally able to reduce the growth of bacteria without any chemicals. They’re also moisture-wicking to prevent sweat and wetness from causing mold to form. Cotton is also non-irritating and breathable, so they’re both good options for bed sheets. Always avoid sheets made of synthetic fibers which can harbor thousands of times more bacteria and dust mites than both Tencel lyocell and cotton.

Durability and longevity

Quality sheets made from Tencel fabric should last a fairly long time with proper care. However, cotton is even more durable than Tencel, making it a better long-term investment. When taken care of properly, your cotton bed sheets can last for up to 50 years!

Environmental impact and sustainability

Most Tencel fabric is generally sustainable, especially when it’s made from the wood pulp of renewable eucalyptus trees. However, many Tencel blends contain other materials that could include synthetic fabrics. Traditional cotton is less sustainable than Tencel. But, if you choose real organic cotton sheets, it’s the best option available when it comes to sustainability and environmental impact.

Cost Comparison

Cotton sheets with a higher thread count, like Egyptian cotton, tend to cost more than most Tencel sheets. Organic cotton sheets are also costlier, but they’re well worth the investment. Overall, the material content of your sheets as well as the brand and how the sheets are produced will determine the price. Traditional cotton sheets are much less expensive than Tencel sheets.

Choosing the Right Sheets for You

Is Tencel good for bed sheets? What about cotton? Here are some things to consider so you can choose the right sheets for you.

Factors to consider when choosing between Tencel and cotton sheets

  • Looking at Tencel vs cotton mostly comes down to your personal preference. For example, if you want something extremely lightweight and smooth, Tencel might be best, while cotton could be better if you need sheets that are easy to clean.
  • Those concerned about their climate should choose sheets that are breathable and moisture-wicking to keep them cool. If you live in a cold climate, cotton sheets tend to keep you warmer than Tencel.
  • You may need a new bed sheet set based on your budget. If so, opt for Tencel sheets or traditional cotton, although some Tencel blends cost just as much as higher-end cotton sheets.

Additional Tips

Remember to consider the care instructions for your new Tencel or cotton sheets. Look for sheets you can toss in the washing machine and dryer rather than having to drag them to the dry cleaners. Some Tencel products must be dry-cleaned, so keep that in mind. It’s also important to know where to buy high-quality Tencel and cotton sheets. Choose a reputable retailer and look at customer reviews to help you choose the best sheets possible. Things like the thread count and weave type of the sheets can also impact your decision.

Stonewashed linen sheet set

Final Thoughts on Tencel vs. Cotton Sheets

When it comes to choosing Tencel vs cotton sheets, it’s ultimately up to your individual needs and preferences. Both of these fabrics have plenty of benefits as well as some cons. Whichever option you choose, it’s most important to invest in high-quality sheets to ensure that you have a good night’s sleep.