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Polyester vs. Cotton Sheets: Which are Better?

Are you looking to upgrade your current sheet set? There is little doubt that the right set of bed linens can improve your quality of sleep substantially. Sheets that aren’t breathable and trap body heat or those that feel scratchy or too heavy can lead to poor sleep or no sleep at all. 

This article outlines the major differences between polyester sheets and cotton sheets, including which type of sheet is best for those with sensitive skin, which works best for people on a budget, which sleeps cooler and more. Discover which set of sheets is the best option for you.

Quick Summary: Polyester vs. Cotton Sheets

Polyester sheets are more affordable than cotton sheets, but they are made with synthetic materials and are not naturally breathable so you may sleep hot in these sheets. Cotton sheets are more breathable and get softer with each wash, but they can be more expensive and less durable.

Polyester Sheets

Polyester sheets can make a great addition to your bed. These sheets tend to be durable, smooth, and lightweight, as well as affordable. Read on for all you need to know about polyester sheets. 

Types of Polyester Bed Sheets

Polyester sheets are made of man-made, synthetic fibers. This bedding can be made of 100% polyester or consist of a polyester blend, such cotton/polyester. Polyester sheets may also be labeled microfiber, which can be purely polyester or a blend of materials.

Polyester sheets are a great option for those on a budget, as they are typically quite affordable. Polyester fabric is also less prone to wrinkling, shrinking, or fading than cotton, making them relatively low maintenance and durable.

Read More: Best Budget Sheets

This material is not naturally breathable, so it is a risky option for people who sleep hot. Polyester sheets also have the tendency to pill and cause static electricity.

When considering thread count, remember that a higher number isn’t always better. In general, a higher thread count means softer sheets. Yet when thread counts go as high as 1,000, it does not necessarily mean the sheets are softer or more comfortable. Look for thread counts between 200 to 800 to find a high-quality sheet set. 

AffordableMade of synthetic material
DurableNot breathable, may sleep hot
Wrinkle-resistantProne to pilling
Less likely to fade or shrink

Cotton Sheets

Cotton sheets can be a cool, luxurious addition to your mattress. The price and feel of the sheets depends a lot on the type of cotton you choose. 

Types of Cotton Bed Sheets

Cotton is a natural fabric derived from the cotton plant. Naturally hypoallergenic and breathable, cotton sheets are moisture-wicking and get softer with each washing.

Related: Bamboo vs Cotton Sheets

Cotton can be made with an extra-long, long, or short staple. The longer the staple, the more high quality the cotton. Egyptian cotton is made with an extra-long staple and has a soft, luxurious feel. Supima cotton, the trademark name for Pima cotton, is made with a long staple. It is soft and slightly more affordable than Egyptian cotton. 

When it comes to thread count, great sheets can be found in the 200 to 800 range depending on finishing. As mentioned above, a particularly high thread count isn’t always better. Aim to find sheets in the 300 to 400 thread count range for a superb night of sleep.

HypoallergenicGenerally more expensive
Breathable, sleeps coolMore likely to wrinkle
Moisture wickingLess durable
Gets softer with each wash

Polyester vs Cotton Sheets—Which Is Better?

Before purchasing new sheets, consider your particular needs. Polyester sheets are a durable, affordable option, and ideal for people on a budget. Cotton sheets are made from natural fibers, making them a good choice for people with allergies. They are also well-suited to hot sleepers thanks to their breathability. 

If you sleep hot or want a more natural product, go with cotton sheets. If you want the most affordable, low-maintenance option, choose polyester sheets as your new bedding.


Are polyester sheets bad?

Polyester sheets are made using a synthetic material and are safe to sleep on. They also tend to be a more long-lasting and wrinkle-resistant option, so if those are important factors to you when buying sheets, polyester may be the way to go!

If you prefer more breathable bedding or bedding made from natural materials, we recommend cotton sheets. Cotton sheets can be made using standard (non-organic) or organic cotton.

Are polyester sheets hot?

Polyester sheets are typically hotter than cotton sheets. Due to their more breathable cool fabric, cotton sheets help disperse body heat.

Are polyester or cotton sheets better?

It depends on your preference. Polyester sheets are a great option if you’re looking for something durable, budget-friendly and less prone to wrinkles. In contrast, cotton sheets are made of naturally derived fibers and tend to sleep cooler.

Loren Bullock

Loren Bullock

Lead Product Tester

About Author

Loren is the Lead Reviewer at Sleep Advisor. She has prioritized sleeping for as long as she can remember, rarely deviating from seven to nine hours each night.

Combination Sleeper

Education & Credentials

  • Certified Sleep Science Coach