Bamboo vs Cotton Sheets: Which is Best for You? (2020)

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If you want the best sleep that you can possibly get, then like it or not, you need to surround yourself with the right pieces of equipment.  Your bed, pillows, and even your topper is a big deal in deciding if you sleep well- or poorly. 

Sheets, of course, are also a big factor, and that’s what we are going to be diving into today.  In our guide, we are going to keep it fairly simple and succinct.  Which are better?  Bamboo sheets or cotton?  Two of the most popular bed sheet options out there, these two material types are rather easy to find.  But what are the differences and what are the similarities?  Join us as we help you determine what these answers are and which is the best for you! 

Defining Bamboo & Cotton Sheets

What Are Bamboo Sheets?

First of all, let’s look at what bamboo and cotton are.  To some, this may be obvious, but for others it may not be so much so.  Even if you are aware of it, it’s good to note, as these can help each stand out.  Bamboo, of course, is made out of bamboo fiber.  It’s a strong type of tree that has been shown to produce excellent results for sheets and a number of other things through the years. 

What are Cotton Sheets?

Then, you have cotton.  Cotton comes from a plant, and it is one of the most readily types of clothing available in the world.  Cotton can run the gambit on varieties, so one kind of cotton is not necessarily equal to another.  Bamboo also has differing processes that can make it stand out as well, so don’t put all of the ‘bamboo’ or ‘cotton’ eggs into one uniform basket. 

Types of Bamboo

We will do our best to keep this section small, but it’s nice to know what you are dealing with in regards to bamboo.  With bamboo, there are three main types to be aware of. 

Rayon

Rayon is the most widespread of bamboo sheets and is developed from cellusoic fibers.  This process is not the best in terms of being friendly to our environment, but you do not see any exposure to chemicals from it. 

Tencel

Next up is what is called tencel– or lyocell- bamboo.  This is the more modern type, and it leaves no traces of chemicals and is done so in a very environmentally friendly way.  They are also very comfy, so that’s a bonus. 

Bamboo Linen

Lastly, you have what is referred to as bamboo linen.  If you want to feel more substantial and have a crispness, but not a ton of softness, then this is the way to go. 

Types of Cotton

Like bamboo, cotton also has a few types of sheets that can be produced as a result of its material.  The first one up to the plate, so to speak, is Egyptian cotton.  We are sure that you have heard of it before, but you may not know what it truly is. 

Egyptian Cotton

Egyptian cotton is a type that is only produced in parts of the world, and it is known as the most premium type of cotton.  It’s both very soft and durable.  It does take extra work to care for, and it’s typically more expensive than other types. 

Supima Cotton

Then, you have the second best, which is Pima, or Supima, cotton.  Supima is the same thing as Pima, only it’s the name given if it comes from the United States.  They are also very soft, but they are less so than Egyptian cotton.  They also cost more than regular types, but they are still less expensive than the Egyptian counterpart. 

Standard Grade Cotton

Lastly, you have what we’ll dub as ‘regular’ cotton.  Regular cotton is not all bad, but it’s very clear that it’s not up to the same standard as the other two.  This type is much more coarse usually, and it’s often going to have less durability.  With that said, it’ll last plenty long for most people, it will be easy to take care of relatively speaking, and it will be much more affordable to purchase. 

Comfort Comparison

When you talk about comfort, you have to be a little careful not to make assumptions.  Comfort is very, very subjective, and the beauty is in the eye of the beholder in regards to it.  With that said, if comfort is the main thing you are looking for, then it’s more of a sure fire thing, generally, to turn toward bamboo over cotton. 

Cotton can have extremely comfortable offerings, no doubt, but not all of them are able to hold up like bamboo does.  The majority of bamboo sheets are going to stand out with their level of comfort, which is not something that cotton is able to do, particularly at the lower price points.  Again, this is all up to you and your individual tastes, but bamboo just about edges it here for us in terms of simplicity’s sake. 

Bamboo & Cotton Sheets Thread Count

This is one area that is tricky to talk about.  Thread count, honestly, is one of the more overrated qualities that you can look at with sheets.  With that said, we know that people frequently use it, whether it’s to make their ultimate decision or just to get an idea of what they are dealing with.  Thread count is only useful when you are examining cotton. 

For bamboo, or any other type of sheets quite honestly, you are not going to get a lot of help from it.  These numbers can be contrived, even in cotton, but they are especially likely to be made up when composed of something other than cotton in order to try and trick you.  With all of that said, generally you will see a higher thread count associated with cotton sheets that are softer and of a higher quality.  There can be games played to fool you, sure, but this is typically how it goes. 

Durability & Longevity Comparison

There are all kinds of factors as it relates to durability and longevity of bedding, but we are still going to try to deliver some good, solid answers to you here.  Durability is determined by things like the materials used, the craftsmanship used to do it, and also is going to depend on how well you take care of your sheets as well. 

The thing we like to point out is that even the supposedly best materials, even those that cost you a premium, may not always hold up like you would assume that they would.  This is sometimes due to flaws in their manufacturing process.  There are ‘duds’ out there, which are going to be pieces that don’t get made as well.  Then, there are going to be others that are produced with a haphazard process. 

You could have the best materials but have poor workers, or machinery, or whatever variable, than affects and causes the sheets to come out less than ideal.  With all of that aside, when you put the two- bamboo and cotton- side by side, generally you are going to see that bamboo comes out on top.  Again, you can certainly find cases where cotton sheets can hold up longer than bamboo ones. 

But by and large, you’re going to see bamboo do a better job if you just take a random set of sheets from each of the two subsets and put them to the test. 

Bed Sheet Maintenance Comparison

A large part of giving you the proper amount of durability from your sheets is going to come from the material that makes up the sheets.  However, you also play a big role in this as well, therefore it’s well worth talking about maintenance of your sheets.  The first thing you must do in regards to maintenance is to make sure to read over instructions. 

Believe it or not, sheets are not all the same, and they are not capable of being treated in the same manner.  If you take certain high priced luxury sheets and throw them in the dryer on high heat, they will come out just fine.  But with others, you will find that this causes them massive amounts of damage.  This is, obviously, to be avoided, and you can only do so by being attentive and not doing anything to jeopardize your sheets.  We did mention how bamboo does generally last longer, but we also have to point out that cotton is going to be easier to take care of. 

Some cotton, such as Egyptian and Pima, and those with a blend of materials, will need more care, but they are usually still easier to care for than bamboo sheets.  Bamboo sheets have to be dealt with gently, whereas cotton doesn’t have to be treated with kid gloves nearly as much. 

Bamboo & Cotton Fabric Breathability

We have found over the years that one of the main issues with people not being able to sleep well is that they are unable to get proper airflow to themselves.  Breathability is the ability for air to move around.  If you are sweating at night, it’s likely due to the fact that some part of your bedding is not breathable enough for you. 

While both cotton and bamboo can be answers to helping you sleep better and cooler, it must be said that bamboo is much more of a sure fire thing than cotton.  Cotton sheets are by and large breathable, though the ones that are more expensive are going to be even more so, but bamboo sheets are always very breathable, as it’s one of the main qualities that have caused them to surge in popularity. 

Plus, with bamboo, you don’t pay more for this added quality, unlike what you experience with cotton in some instances. 

Environment and Health Impact of Bamboo & Cotton Sheets

We have touched on it slightly before as we looked at each type of sheet and where they came from.  One comes from a tree and another from a plant, but the two are not equal in their environmental impact. 

Bamboo is the much better in terms of this, so if this is a chief concern of yours, then this is your answer.  Bamboo trees grow at a rate that makes them one of the fastest in the entire world.  They also leave a smaller carbon footprint than most substances.  On top of that, they are excellent due to the lack of chemicals used. 

On the opposite side of the spectrum is cotton.  Cotton does utilize chemicals, unless it is 100% organic cotton that is, and those can affect your sleep, whether you believe it or realize it or not.  Environmentally, cotton is also on the losing end against bamboo, as it does take a lot of pesticides to help produce the crop. 

Cotton & Bamboo Bed Sheet Price Comparison

Lastly, we shall compare the price of the two materials.  Sheets made from bamboo, unfortunately, are going to usually cost you more than ones made from cotton.  This is due to the fact that the process is different and that they are usually all going to be of a high quality. 

Of course, with that said, there are all kinds of price points for you to pick from as well.  You can find entry prices for cotton and for bamboo, so just about anyone can find a price they are happy with.  Provided that you don’t mind sacrificing some durability, that is.  You’re rarely going to get a super low price with an extremely large amount of durability, so keep that in mind and don’t expect too much from your sheets! 

Conclusion & Final Recommendation

Finding the exact perfect set of bedding be tough to do.  You might just want to find any old thing and slap them on, but even if that’s you, it’s not likely to be that easy, especially if you are searching online.  There is an abundance of options that will pop up on the web, and that is only going to serve to confuse some folks. 

Even those of us that know what we want can have a rough time.  Thankfully, for you, you are now armed with much more (and better) information on bamboo and cotton sheets following our guide today.  We’ve touched on the differences (and how they are alike) and now you can go out and make a good, informed decision that will actually help you achieve better sleep.  Who can complain about that!? 

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