October 04, 2021 6 min read

If you’ve ever shopped for bedding, you know the options are limitless. From silk, to linen, to cotton, you can find it all. Even just the cotton varieties go on and on! Sateen bedding has gained popularity over the last few years, but what exactly is sateen, how does it compare to other bedding and is it the right option for you?

What Is Cotton Sateen?

Sateen bedding is traditionally made using cotton fibers. However, sateen itself isn’t a material, rather it’s a type of weaving pattern. Sateen weave follows a strict one-yarn- under, three-yarn-over weft pattern to expose the maximum surface area of each thread. This pattern is unique to sateen and gives the fabric a wave-like look up close.

Grey Sateen Duvet Cover Grey Sateen flat sheet

Once woven, these long-staple cotton fibers undergo a process called mercerization. This means that the fabric gets soaked in lye, then acid to essentially lock the threads in. Treating the yarns creates a smoother texture and a natural sheen. Typically, these luxurious sheets are made from 100% extra-long-staple cotton. The long yarns are ideal for forming the sateen weave, which exposes a great deal of each thread’s surface area. Sateen also follows a satin weave, meaning that there are either warp (vertical) or weft (horizontal) threads on the surface of each side of the material.

The best sateen sheets have a thread count of between 300 and 600 yarns per inch. However, the finest quality cotton sateen consists of combed cotton. Combing removes all shorter staple threads, resulting in an overall smoother surface. Plus, this primarily natural fabric is hypoallergenic and has a fairly tight weave, preventing dust and dust mites. Cotton sateen is safe for all sleepers — even the most sensitive people.

What are Sateen Sheets Made Of?

White Sateen Duvet Cover White Sateen Beddings

Although cotton is the most common type of fabric used to make sateen sheets, it certainly isn’t the only option. Here are the most common materials you may find sateen sheets made of:

  • Organic cotton. With organic cotton sateen, you can enjoy all the classic perks of sateen, but with a cleaner, safer approach. Organic cotton meets rigorous standards, ensuring it is free from harmful levels of toxic substances, making it safer for you and the environment.
  • Cotton blend. Sometimes cotton is mixed with other materials to make it more durable, affordable, or to reap the benefits of different textiles. Be careful — some companies will also use this blend of cotton to artificially make their linens’ thread counts seem higher than they indeed are.
  • Polyester. Sateen can be made from polyester to create adurable, affordable textile. However, being a synthetic material, polyester is much less breathable and environmentally friendly than cotton.
  • Rayon. Much like cotton,rayon is a natural material that embodies similar properties. Plus, it’s lightweight and sourced from ecologically friendly cellulose fibers.
Cream Sateen Sheets

Sateen vs. Satin: What’s the Difference?

Satin and sateen may sound and look alike, but you can’t use the two terms interchangeably. These are two entirely different fabrics! Both materials are glossy, smooth, and luxuriously silky. On top of that, they’re also durable and wrinkle resistant. However, some significant distinctions separate the two.

Sateen is often made of cotton (or other short-staple materials, but we’ll get to that later), which makes it hypoallergenic, relatively breathable, and inexpensive. On the other hand, the best satin is made of silk, while polyester, nylon, or other filament fibers are more durable, cost-effective options.

While cotton sateen fabric follows a weft (horizontal) pattern, satin follows a warp (vertical) pattern. As a result, satin has a more lustrous, slippery texture that drapes gracefully but readily snags and can be hard to work with.

Pros and Cons of Sateen Sheets

Like all fabrics, sateen bedding as its own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s what you’ll love about sateen and what you might not be too keen on.

Pros of Sateen Sheets

  • Wrinkle-resistant. Don’t worry about heating up the iron or steamer—these sheets are naturally wrinkle-resistant. If you love the look of a crisp finish but don’t want to spend the extra time flattening your sheets out, sateen is perfect for you. From the moment you make your bed to the time you throw them in the washing machine, sateen sheet sets will remain effortlessly gorgeous.
  • Easy to care for. Although sateen looks and feels luxurious,it doesn’t require tedious care. It’s easy to toss your bedding in the washing machine, then let it air or machine dry. No dry cleaning or extra steps are needed!
  • Luxurious feel. Sateen is famous for its buttery-soft texture, smooth surface, and slippery feeling. Let’s be honest: it’s nothing short of luxurious. You’ll feel like royalty every time you crawl into bed — and you definitely won’t want to leave.
  • Affordable options. Just because is a luxury material doesn’t mean it has an expensive price tag. Our sateen sheet sets are some of the most affordable on the market!
  • Naturally hygienic. Since sateen has a tighter weave than many other fabrics, it comes with unique perks. This textile naturally resists both dust and dust mites, making it more hygienic than most bed sheets. If you choose organic cotton materials, you can also enjoy the benefits of cleaner, safer linens.

Cons of Sateen Sheets

  • Traps warmth. One of the biggest questions you’re probably asking is, “Are sateen sheets hot?” The answer is yes, sateen bedding does trap heat. This can be a disadvantage for warmer sleepers with night sweats, hot summer months, or those who live in warmer climates. However, it’s ideal for cool sleepers, colder months, or places with chilly nighttime temperatures.
  • Wears with time. While sateen has a relatively tight weave, other weaves, like percale, offer superior durability. Because sateen’s weave exposes more of each thread’s surface area than other fabrics, it may wear out faster. Try choosing high-quality luxury bedding sets to combat this issue.
  • Slippery finish may be uncomfortable. Sleep preferences are highly personal, so while cotton sateen fabric may make soft sheets, the slippery finish isn’t for everyone. Some may not find the texture as cozy as they’d like. If you’d prefer a matte finish, try percale sheets.
  • Prone to snagging and pilling. Time for the million-dollar question: do sateen sheets pill? Unfortunately, yes. One of the best qualities of sateen — its smooth, silky texture — comes at a cost. Due to the weave structure, some threads sit closer to the surface. These yarns are naturally prone to snagging, pilling, and tearing. Combat this by reducing friction: wash your sateen sheets without anything else in the machine.

How to Wash Sateen Sheets

There’s nothing complicated about caring for sateen sheets. Though this is a luxe material, the maintenance is easy! Keep in mind that every textile has specific care instructions that you can find on the garment label. However, here are some general guidelines for how to wash sateen sheets:

Machine Wash

Yes, sateen sheets are machine washable and machine dryable! For best results, start by turning your bedding inside out and closing any zippers, if needed (typically for duvet covers). This step helps reduce any pilling and snagging in the wash. Then, add a mild detergent and set your washing machine to the gentle cycle

Immediately remove your linens from the wash to prevent mildew, and toss them in the dryer on the coolest setting possible.

Hand Wash

Friction in the washing machine has the potential to cause pilling, so if you’re worried about this, opt for handwashing. Just like with machine washing, you’ll want to use a mild detergent.

You can skip the dryer, too, by laying your sheets over a rack or clothesline to air dry. However, as long as you use the low setting, machine drying is safe too!

Grey Sateen Sheet set

Are Cotton Sateen Sheets Right for You?

Sateen is an ultra-soft, incredibly smooth luxury bedding material with a signature sheen. These sheets are naturally hygienic, wrinkle-resistant, and slightly silky, making you feel like a million bucks. But if you’re a warm sleeper or worried about snagging and pilling, cotton percale sheets may be a better option. At Or & Zon, our collection of organic bedding includes both percale and sateen weaves. We carry sheet sets, duvet covers and bed bundles, all with free shipping and a 365 day guarantee! So, what are you waiting for? Shop our incredible collection of organic cotton bedding now!