A Comprehensive Guide for Bedding Materials

W e spend nearly one-third of our lives asleep, and sound sleep is important for physical and mental wellbeing. So, it makes sense that your bedding should not just look beautiful but is also comfortable. 

For the best night's sleep, you need bed sheets made out of comfy and easy-to-care material. With so many different types of bedding materials available, it can be an overwhelming decision-making process. 

We've created this list of the most common types of bedding materials and their properties to make things easier. So read on to make an informed purchase decision:

NATURAL BEDDING MATERIALS

1. Cotton

Cotton bedding is popular due to many factors. This natural fiber is greatly versatile and soft. You can select between different types of cotton, such as crisp yet soft long-staple cotton or warm Flannel. Most of the cotton bed sheets are highly breathable, durable, and easy to clean. Many are reasonably priced, while some grades of cotton fabrics can be pricey.

The basic difference among types of cotton lies in their staple length. The staple length refers to the fibers' length used for weaving the cotton into the bedding. There are three different staple lengths:

  • Short staple: 1-1/8 inch
  • Long staple: 1-1/4 inch
  • Extra-long staple: 1-3/8 to 2 inches 

The longer the staple, the fewer fabric ends will be exposed in the woven cotton fabrics, a synonym to better quality, softer and more durable beddings.

Different Types of Cotton, classified by staple length, are:

Upland Cotton

Upland cotton is the most common short-staple cotton. The American classic comprises 95% of the cotton planted in the US. It's ideal for everyday products, including bed sheets.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Durable 
  • Low maintenance

Cons:

  • Rougher and less soft than long staple cotton bedding varieties

Pima Cotton

Pima belongs to the family of medium- to extra-long staple fibers. Beddings made from Pima cotton are luxuriously smooth with a natural sheen. Traditionally grown in Peru, Pima cotton is now widely planted in southwest America.

Pros:

  • Extra strong staple
  • Highly breathable
  • Moisture absorbent
  • Longevity 
  • Resistant to tearing, wrinkling, fading, and pilling

Cons: 

  • Prices for Pima bed sheets are relatively high but still accessible. 

Egyptian Cotton

Widely considered the most luxurious variety, Egyptian cotton is an extra-long staple variety. Like Pima cotton, Egyptian cotton also tends to be soft, vibrant, and high in performance. It’s a good choice for those who want super-soft bed sheets at any cost.

Pros:

  • Softest and smoothest fabric
  • Crisp and breathable 

Cons:

  • Can be quite pricey
  • Many beddings sold as "Egyptian" aren't real. They may even be blends.

Both Pima and Egyptian cotton share similar characteristics. The difference lies in their origin – Pima is primarily planted in the USA, while Egyptian cotton thrives in the warm and dry atmosphere of the Nile River Valley.

Flannel Cotton

Flannel cotton is soft, medium staple cotton with a nappe or fuzzy finish. The napped finish comes from brushing or loosely spun weave, and the result is a soft fabric with snuggly-warm qualities. It's often woven with tartan and plaid patterns, making it a favorite fabric for bedding in the winter.

Pros:

  • Soft and cozy; so, it keeps you warm all winter long.
  • Heavy-weight and thicker
  • Breathable - uncomfortable and sweaty nights
  • Easy to clean & care for
  • Affordable because it's measured in weight, not thread count

Cons:

  • It starts piling up over time, creating little fabric balls on the surface.
  • May shrink slightly when washed for the first time.

2. Silk Bedding

If you can splurge because you want something luxurious, silk bedding can be a great choice. Soothing, comfy and luxurious, silk sheets are made from woven cocoons of silkworms with long, delicate yet durable threads. One of many fascinating things about silk is that it remains cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Pros:

  • Cool and sensuous with an unbeatable lavish feel
  • Hypoallergenic 
  • Helps prevent bed head and tangled hair in the morning

Cons:

  • High-quality and authentic silk sheets come with a hefty price tag.
  • Extremely delicate, which means silk bedding needs huge care and maintenance
  • Not as durable as cotton 

It’s worth educating yourself with common varieties of silk:

  • Mulberry Silk: This highest quality silk is most preferred for bedding. It is sourced from a domesticated silkworm - Bombyx mori, fed on a very special and strict diet of mulberry leaves. It makes Mulberry silk superior, finer, smoother, and most luxurious to other types. In addition, it's strong and long-lasting, making it a great choice for those looking for luxury and outstanding value. 
  • Wild Silk: Producing wild silk is relatively a difficult process. Most wild silks are cultivated once the silkworms have emerged from their cocoons. Processing them into long, soft strands is a time-consuming process. Besides, wild silk is not uniform. So, it affects the texture, appearance, and feel of the material. 
  • Duppoini Silk: Dupion silk is cultivated from two silkworms that spin a cocoon together. It results in a strong and lustrous double-thread fabric. It features irregularity in thinness and rough yarn. This is less desirable for bedding compared to other varieties of silk.

3. Flax/Hemp Linen

Many celebrities, 5-star hotels, and countless everyday people prefer linen bedding for many good reasons.Linen is an ancient fabric that has been loved for generations due to its aesthetic and practicality.

Linen is made of fibers from the stems of flax plants or hemp fibers obtained from the stalk of the Cannabis sativa plant. Hemp fibre bundles are stronger and more resistant to ultraviolet light than flax bundles. Besides, hemp linen bedding demands relatively less maintenance.

Pros:

  • Soft and gets softer after washes
  • Breathable - Keeps you warm in cold months and cool in the summer.
  • Antimicrobial and antibacterial 
  • Carries a distinct, luxurious texture and delightful softness.
  • Boasts unique filtering, moisture absorbing, and ventilating capabilities.
  • Twice as durable as cotton and lasts for decades when cared for well.
  • Environmentally friendly fabric

Cons:

  • Fewer colour and pattern options
  • Wrinkles easily
  • Needs a high level of care and maintenance 

4. Bamboo

Bamboo is an eco-friendly and the fastest-growing plant on the planet. It naturally repels insects and pests (thus no pesticides are used), and consumes far less water to grow. Bamboo bed sheets are gaining popularity in recent years due to their exceptionally soft and airy texture. They are made from regenerated cellulose from bamboo commonly known as rayon. 

The cooling feature of bamboo bedding is mainly due to the plant’s hollow morphological structure, which allows the fabric to absorb excess moisture, keeping the surface cool.

Pros:

  • Soft and Airy
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Temperature-regulating
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Deodorizing properties
  • Mildew-resistant and anti-bacterial

Cons:

  • Wrinkles Easily
  • Pricier than cotton
  • Gentle care needed

5. Tencel:

Tencel is a branded bedding material made from the wood pulp of the eucalyptus tree. The environmentally friendly material uses less water, chemicals, and energy to produce soft and comfy bed sheets.

Pros:

  • Silky soft
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Cooling property
  • Offer better airflow than other materials 

Cons:

  • Not as breathable as cotton 
  • Expensive 
  • Requires delicate care

SYNTHETIC BEDDING MATERIALS

1. Polyester

Polyester is a man-made synthetic bedding material that is often blended with cotton. Polyester bed sheets are cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing. But the material is not breathable and may even cause allergies.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Wrinkle-resistant 
  • Easy to launder and dries quickly

Cons:

  • Stiff and scratchy
  • More prone to pilling 
  • Can easily soak up oils and grease
  • Not as breathable as a natural fabric

2. Microfiber

Microfiber is a tightly woven polyester to form a lightweight but comfy bed sheet. This man-made fabric is commonly polyesters and polyamides (nylon), as well as wood pulp. Since microfiber beddings tend to be durable and stain-resistant, these make a good choice for a kid's room.

Pros:

  • Soft
  • Affordable
  • Less prone to wrinkling and shrinking compared to linen and cotton

Cons:

  • Not very breathable
  • Can overheat
  • Not recommended for sensitive skin

3. Nylon

Characterized by a soft and silky texture, nylon makes strong and durable bed sheets that don't wrinkle easily. But the material may begin to pil up after a few washings. It can't hold up well under high heat, like clothing irons, dryers, and even excessive sun heat.

Pros:

  • Strong and durable
  • Versatile
  • Very stretchy
  • Highly moisture absorbent
  • Stain-resistant

Cons:

  • Synthetic bedding material
  • Can melt and burn
  • Not as breathable as natural materials

WEAVES FOR BEDDING

The weaving process involves combining warp (lengthwise yarns) and weft (crosswise threads) components to generate a woven structure. Here are some of the kinds: 

Percale Weaves

One of the most well-known and recognized weaves for bed sheets is Percale Weaves. The weaves are presented in a crisscross form on multiple sides.

Each of the sides has an equivalent quantity of surface thread. Besides, it provides a matte finish with durable, lighter, and breathable quality.

Twill Weaves

This weave renders a twill style that seems like diagonal lines on the sheet surface, as the name signifies. It has a similar appearance to that of denim. They are easy to drape, sturdy, and durable. 

Sateen Weaves

Bedsheets that are woven in sateen style are considered as Sateen Weaves. The surface of this sheet feels more fibrous, smooth, and luxurious. It also renders an elegant shine in outlook.

Jersey Knits

Bed sheets that are made with Jersey knits are more subtly knitted than woven. It is soft, stretchy, and elastic. The style is classic for sheets that demand a casual appearance. Jersey is produced with synthetic fibres, cotton, and cotton blends.

Patterned Weaves

Patterned Weaves are of two types viz, brocade and damask. They render a vintage and upscale look to the sheets. Besides, this kind of weave is much heavier in weight. Due to the prominent patterns, the prices are on the costlier side. 

Dobby Weaves

Dobby Weaves are designs that are woven into fabric. It is made with naive entities like dots or stripes. 

Does Thread Count Matter?

If the thread count increases, the sheet seems softer. Good sheets have approximately 200 to 800 thread counts.

Sometimes, the number can be 1000. However, instead of thread count, fabric plays a significant role. Therefore, if you have a suitable fabric/material, the thread count does not matter.

So, that’s all about bedding materials. We hope it helps you to find the appropriate bedding material for yourself.