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Is Tencel a Better Fabric than Cotton for Sheets?

When you’re looking for sheets for your bed, you might be astounded at the choices. You’ll see a lot of fabric options and wonder which is best. If you’re looking for good quality sheets that will be comfortable year-round, it might come down to Tencel vs. cotton.


But what is Tencel sheets, and what are the differences between them and cotton sheets? 


All About Tencel

Tencel isn’t the name of the fabric, it’s the brand name for fibres known as lyocell and modal. Basically, it feels like rayon, like a combination of cotton and silk. Lyocell and modal are derived from wood pulp plant material, usually Eucalyptus wood.  


Unlike cotton, which has been used extensively throughout the world for thousands of years, Tencel is a newer fabric. It was first developed in the late 1900s, so it’s much newer than cotton. 


It’s become quite popular in the past four decades, though, since then because of how comfortable it is. The popularity is also because it’s made from quickly renewable Eucalyptus trees and the fact the production of Tencel requires a low usage of natural resources. With today’s trend of supporting sustainable products that have a low environmental impact, Tencel cotton sheets have had no problem earning sales in the bedding industry. 


But it’s not just its sustainability that draws people to Tencel - if a sheet isn’t comfortable, people won’t buy it. Tencel fabric sheets are breathable, which makes them suitable for summer or winter use.


They also wick moisture from your skin, are soft, resistant to shrinking, and they are easy to care for in the washing machine and dryer because of their durability. Plus, as an added bonus for summer sleeping, these sheets are cool to the touch. 


Tencel fiber sheets are hypoallergenic, so they are great for those who have sensitive skin, like eczema and allergies to dust mites. With eczema, you want softer sheets instead of rough, stiff ones that can further irritate your troubled skin. Since Tencel is remarkably soft, they are a good pick for eczema sufferers.


If you want Tencel sheets, however, get ready to pay more for them. They’re more expensive than some other bedding options, but they will last a long time, which may help you justify the cost. 

 

A Closer Look at Cotton

Few fabrics have had as an illustrious history and record of endurance as cotton. It was used in ancient times and continues to be one of the top fabric choices today for sheets and clothing. 


People have turned to cotton for a good night’s sleep for such a long time, it’s become an automatic choice for many consumers. 


Cotton is grown in warmer climates where it’s planted in the fall and has a late-spring harvest. It’s also a sustainable choice, but does require more water and energy to make than Tencel does. 


Cotton has high breathability, softness, and durability. Plus, it’s pretty low maintenance, which is nice for consumers who don’t relish the idea of hand washing and line drying their sheets.  


If you tend to sweat at night, cotton can be a good pick for sheets because it absorbs moisture, leading to a drier night of sleep for you. 


But cotton does have some drawbacks, even though it’s a fabric of choice for many. It is prone to wrinkling, so if you like the look of a crisp, clean bed, you may have to iron your sheets. Also, to get the softest cotton sheets, you’ll have to pay more money for a higher thread count. 

 

 

A Direct Comparison of Cotton and Tencel

You can’t go wrong with either of these sheet choices - both will likely help you sleep well. But let’s look at which might be better under certain circumstances.


    • Durability: Both types of material are durable, but Tencel seems to have a slight edge in this department.
    • Appearance: Tencel is less wrinkly, but if you don’t mind ironing sheets, cotton looks just as nice. Your preference on this may come down to finding a sheet colour or design that you love in either fabric. However, Tencel does hold dye better over time, with less fading.
    • Sensitive skin: Tencel is tops when it comes to sensitive skin. It is more allergy- and eczema-friendly. 
    • Cooling: Summer sleeping is notoriously tricky if you don’t have air conditioning to keep you comfortable. Both fabrics are fine for summer, but Tencel feels cooler to the touch because of the Eucalyptus trees that are used in its production. If you enjoy sleeping with a weighted blanket year-round, you should strongly consider cooling Tencel sheets for summer.
    • Comfort: This depends on your idea of comfort. Some people like the feel of crisp cotton sheets, while others like Tencel’s superior softness. It’s a matter of preference -- you can’t go wrong either way. 
    • Price: You’ll pay more for Tencel sheets than you will for cotton. But, over time, that cost may even out because Tencel is a hardier fabric, so it may last longer. 
    • Hygiene: For hygienic purposes, Tencel wins because of its better absorbency of moisture. 
    • Environmental impact: The winner here is clearly Tencel. Although both choices are sustainable, cotton uses more water and energy to produce than Tencel does. 

If you can afford Tencel sheets, they are the better option in many ways. But if you can’t or you have tried Tencel and don’t like it, cotton is still a good choice for getting great sleep every night. 

 

Make a Sound Investment in Your Sleep

Sleep should come naturally since it’s a basic human need, but, unfortunately, some people struggle to get enough shut-eye. To help get comfortable in their beds, people have turned to cotton historically, and more recently, to the newer fabric, Tencel.


No matter which fabric you decide upon for your sheets, try to practise good sleep habits so you can rest enough to feel ready to take on the world the next day. Your body and your mind will thank you for your efforts.