What makes the best bed sheets? We go through the difference: tencel vs cotton vs Airism vs polyester and microfiber sheets – and how to choose the best.
We get a lot of questions on the differences in materials and how to construct the most comfortable sleep and the differences in materials. The ideal bed is usually made out of 6 parts, but we will be focusing on the most important – the part that comes into contact with your skin – the bed sheet, and what makes the best, most comfortable sheet.
When we founded Kapas Living, we did a study on many different types of bed sheets and it always boils down to individual preferences. Quick disclaimer, we obviously went with high-end 100% 400 thread count extra-long staple cotton, and we will stick by that conclusion!
We interviewed almost 100 people to discover what they valued, and this is what we found:
- A smooth touch – its got to be soft! In this hot weather, less people preferred the crisp feeling of perceale, preferring a soft sateen feel.
- Most people didn’t care about embroideries, or patterns. A clean simple look seemed to be the most preferred
- Cooling bed sheets were a huge factor
Types of materials
To discover the best materials, we focused on the main types:
|Price||Very high||Very high||Medium||Low||Low|
|Smoothness||Super soft||Super soft||Soft (depending on grade)||Soft||Soft|
Silk and Tencel
I’ve put silk and tencel into the same category as they both have similar traits. Before we dive into the actual experience, let’s talk about what Tencel / silk is.
Contrary to popular belief, Tencel is actually a brand of Lyocell fibers by an Austrian company. It’s source is Eucalytus trees, but its a semi-synthetic material based on the process it undergoes, where its made of small nanofibers which makes it super smooth. There’s quite a lot of information on the website, claiming sustaibility, superiority on normal cotton and various other things, but we couldn’t find any actual research on it, just the marketing stuff, so we’ll take it with a pinch of salt.
The best part of this material? Its soft. So soft that it feels like you’re sinking in butter. We splurged and bought ourselves a set, calling it product research, and on the first night, just getting into bed was a joy. There was just one problem (aside from the crazy price). It was hot compared to our cotton bed sheets. We sleep in an airconditioned room, and we just found it didn’t absorb as much moisture, and despite all the great things we read, it just didn’t measure up.
If you want that silky soft feeling, opt for silk or tencel bed sheets. Its just a little bit hotter than regular cotton, but if you’re the type of person who likes sleeping warm, then by all means, these bed sheets may be for you!
Cotton bed sheets
We love cotton bed sheets. There’s a reason its the most sold type of sheets in the world. Within the cotton realm, there are a huge range of types, so let’s dive into the basics.
Types of cotton: You’ve heard about Egyptian cotton and Supima cotton – but here’s what we found out: it’s all marketing. Egypt and the US has spent a lot of money marketing their cotton, to give them the edge over other cotton. However, at 2x the price (raw material), it doesn’t make any sense. What really matters was the length of the cotton staple:
- Short staple cotton fibres = 29mm
- Long-staple cotton = 32mm
- Extra-long staple cotton = >34mm
As the staples get longer, the bed sheets also get softer, more durable and gives that soft silky smooth feeling.
Of course, there are other things that matter too, like thread count – but only to a certain extent. After long chats with our manufacturer, we realised that its not even possible to make single-ply cotton bed sheets for more than 400 thread count! Anything more than 400 thread count is likely marketing. We wrote an article about thread count here.
Other things to consider are the weave and design. We like to think our sheets have been thought of in great detail, and encompasses all the great things about cotton sheets..
Polyester / polyblend
Polyester bed sheets are a great alternative if you’re working on a tight budget. Usually priced much lower than cotton sheets, they are durable and don’t really need to be ironed. However, they aren’t as comfortable as cotton sheets or as breathable.
Most hotels end up using a blend of cotton and polyester due to its durability in commercial laundry, even the 5* hotel beds. Check out the Westin beds information here if you don’t believe me: Their duvet cover is 100% polyester and others are 80% cotton / 20% polyester.
Truth is, most people won’t notice the difference in hotel rooms as the air conditioning is set to really cold, and for a couple of nights – you won’t really care. But after a week or two, or if your air conditioning isn’t set at 18 degrees, you’ll definitely be able to tell the difference.
We recently also saw Airism launching their bed sheets and were curious of their makeup. After much research, Airism sheets seem to be made of 80% polyester and 20% cupro (similar to tencel). Although the tencel makes it feel soft, the polyblend nature of Tencel bed sheets means that it will never give you the same comfort level as 100% cotton sheets.
When we first started our Airbnb, we used microfiber bed sheets because they were so, so so….. cheap. If you’ve ever used microfiber sheets, you’ll notice that they’re soft, very thin usually, and cost so little. Its a great option if you’re buying bed sheets for a rental for sure.
The negatives? It doesn’t last long. The materials tore when we started using commercial laundry, so its basically gentle wash only. It also sleeps hot thanks to its non-natural fibers.
In summary, we obviously think cotton bed sheets rule them all, though it does boil down to personal preferences and budget constraints. Our 100% 400 thread count extra-long staple bed sheets provide a great balance between price and comfort, and high-end cotton bed sheets are so silky smooth it makes the difference between silk and cotton minimal. After solid testing over the last 2 years, the durability of our sheets are also unparalleled.
A quick note is to also think of the design! It’s about functionality, great labels and an obsession for the details that make our bed sheets great as well.
Good luck with picking your sheets!