October 03, 2023 7 min read

When you shop for new bed sheets, you might feel overwhelmed by all of the choices available. One such dilemma is deciding between cotton vs microfiber sheets. While both of these materials are quite popular and affordable, there’s a distinct difference between the two. Both microfiber and cotton are viable choices, but it’s important to know the truth about key factors like softness, the possible health implications of using microfiber sheets, and the pros and cons of each. Our guide will explore the difference between these two materials, so you can decide whether cotton or microfiber sheets will provide you with the utmost comfort for better sleep. Read on to learn more about microfiber vs cotton sheets: discovering the sheets that let you breathe easy.

What's Better: Microfiber or Cotton Sheets?

When debating between microfiber or cotton sheets, there are a few key characteristics of each one that you should keep in mind. Let’s compare and contrast the performance, features, and perks of both of these bedding materials.

Microfiber vs. Cotton Sheets Microfiber compared to cotton
  • Microfiber: Microfiber bed sheets are soft, lightweight, and durable. The flat, tightly woven fibers make them a standout choice if you’re looking for a set of sheets that will last. Not only that, but these sheets are also extremely low maintenance, which means cleaning them is a breeze. They’re also quite wrinkle resistant, while cotton and linen tend to get naturally wrinkled, even after you take them directly from the dryer. This gives microfiber sheets a nice, crisp look with little effort. This unique material is no thicker than a human hair per fiber, which makes it extremely thin, yet surprisingly durable when woven together to make bedding and other products.
  • Cotton: This material is made from natural fibers, so it’s an eco-friendly choice, especially if you choose organic cotton. Choose cotton bed sheets to experience a restful sleep thanks to their breathable, moisture-resistant properties that are also naturally hypoallergenic. Cotton sheets are also very low maintenance, so they’re easy to keep clean, just like microfiber. Sheets made of long staple cotton fibers such as Egyptian cotton are supremely soft, highly durable, and long-lasting. Quality cotton sheets will provide you with a comfortable night of sleep without worrying about overheating.

Are Microfiber or Cotton Sheets Softer?

Is cotton better than microfiber Are microfiber or cotton softer?

Perhaps one of the biggest debates between cotton vs microfiber sheets is which one is softer. Microfiber is a thin material that is often made of synthetic materials, making these sheets less prone to wrinkling. Most microfiber is made of a blend of materials including polyester, wood pulp, and nylon polymers. The lightweight nature of microfiber gives it a slightly smooth and slippery feel, which adds to its overall softness. However, because it’s made of synthetic fibers, some people can tell the difference between microfiber and cotton in terms of natural softness against the skin. These sheets are typically found in either a percale or sateen weave.

Cotton sheets are made from cotton plants, so they’re automatically soft by nature. These sheets come in a wide variety of styles, blends, and weaves depending on what type of cotton is used and how they’re manufactured. One perk to this material is that cotton sheets tend to get softer with frequent washing. Pima cotton is one of the softest choices, while upland cotton is a more affordable choice if you’re on a budget, and it’s the most common type found in mass-produced cotton sheets. While microfiber sheets tend to have a more slippery feel, cotton fibers are much softer and more pliable.

Microfiber bedding not breathable

Are Microfiber Sheets Healthy to Sleep On?

Many conscious consumers are curious about the health implications of using microfiber fabric sheets. Certain materials may not only affect your health but also your sleep quality as a whole. People with sensitive skin may find that the synthetic fabric of microfiber can cause symptoms to become worse over time. Most microfiber sheets tend to trap heat, so hot sleepers or people dealing with night sweats may find them unpleasant when compared to more breathable materials like cotton fabric.

Cotton is naturally breathable and also has moisture wicking properties that draw sweat away from the body to keep you comfortable and cool during the night. And since the cotton plant produces a natural fiber, there are fewer chemicals and additives used to make cotton bedding. Organic cotton sheets are free of any extra chemicals you probably can’t pronounce, so they’re much safer for people with allergies and sensitive skin. They also don’t trap body heat like microfiber tends to do. This makes them a better choice for not just more comfortable sleep but for better quality sleep overall.

What Are the Disadvantages of Microfiber Sheets?

Before you choose microfiber sheets, it’s important to know about some of the disadvantages of this material:

  • Microfiber feels smooth and silky soft with a unique velvety texture, but it’s still not quite as soft or as warm as cotton.
  • The closely woven fibers of microfiber make them less breathable, which may cause overheating during the night. Sheets with a GSM over 100 are not recommended if you’re looking for something that will breathe as you sleep.
  • Microfiber does not have nearly the same moisture wicking capabilities as cotton, linen, or bamboo.
  • Since it’s a synthetic material, microfiber sheets are not eco-friendly or organic.
  • While microfiber is easy to clean, it’s more vulnerable to staining because the material is more absorbent.
Are cotton sheets better than microfiber?

What Sheets Breathe the Best?

Breathable sheets promote better comfort and a good night’s sleep. Organic cotton sheets are naturally breathable, and therefore are much better at regulating your body temperature than microfiber. Stonewashed linen is another exceptionally comfortable and breathable choice. Not only is linen eco-friendly, but it’s also extremely long-lasting. If you tend to get hot during the night, it’s recommended that you choose sheets that are not just soft to the touch, but also as breathable as possible to help you stay cool. Look for sheets with a lower thread count, as those with higher thread counts per square inch won’t allow for good airflow.

If you have your heart set on buying microfiber sheets, choose a set designed with a loose weave. Some microfiber sheet sets are mixed with other breathable fibers to help promote better breathability. Make sure you select microfiber sheets based on the weave. Instead of thread count, this material is measured in grams per square meter, or GSM, to determine its thickness. It’s also important to take your nighttime body temperature and your personal preferences into account to help you stay as comfortable as possible. Natural materials (like organic cotton, linen, etc.) always tend to breathe better than synthetic ones, so it’s important to keep that in mind as you decide which material is the right one for you.

Do Microfiber Sheets Tear Easily?

Buying new sheets is an important investment not just in your home, but also for your lifestyle, which is why durability is so important. Cotton and microfiber sheets are both generally durable, and both tend to last about two to three years with proper care. However, the thin fibers of most microfiber materials make them more susceptible to tearing over time. These fibers are thinner than silk, so these sheets should be treated with the utmost care. On the other hand, the tight weave of microfiber can help make it last a bit longer a bit than cotton as long as you follow the correct care instructions. It can withstand frequent washing fairly well, which gives it a good lifespan.

Here are some tips to help you maintain and prolong the lifespan of your microfiber sheets:

  • Use a gentle, bleach-free laundry detergent to help prevent the fibers from breaking down and causing premature wear and tear.
  • Avoid using hot water when you wash your sheets, and never put them on the high heat cycle in the dryer as high temperatures can cause permanent damage and weaken the fibers, resulting in tearing.
  • Treat all stains immediately to prevent them from becoming permanent since microfiber is more absorbent and may leave stains behind after washing.
  • Never use fabric softener on microfiber sheets, as it may leave a residue behind that can stick in between the spaces of the weave, making it less breathable. You can safely use dryer balls to soften your sheets and speed up the drying process.
  • Wash your microfiber sheets alone so they don’t pick up excess lint from other items such as towels or clothing.
  • Rotate your sheets to help them last longer. Switch between sheet sets in between laundry days so you can extend their lifespan.
  • Make sure you choose fitted sheets that fit your bed size so that they don’t get stretched out too far, which could result in tearing.

Final thoughts on Microfiber vs. Cotton Sheets

Microfiber and cotton sheets are both good choices for your bed, but cotton wins the day in terms of sustainability, softness, and healthy sleep quality. Think about various factors including choosing sheets with a higher thread count for more durability, or some with lower thread counts if you’re more concerned about airflow. Always remember to consider your personal preferences in terms of comfort, care and maintenance, and the potential health concerns associated with certain materials when you’re selecting a new set of sheets. Both microfiber and cotton have their fair share of perks, but the high-quality bedding products at Or & Zon are made from 100 percent organic materials that will not only keep you healthy but will also keep the planet healthy, too. Explore our current collection of bedding to find the ultimate option for your sleeping space today.