Satin vs Cotton: Which Fabric Should You Bundle Yourself Up In?

Choosing the bed sheet you will be sleeping with used to be a simple exercise composed of a few questions:

  • Are they soft?
  • How long before we have to wash them?
  • Are they durable?
  • Are they attractive?
  • Do they match the vibe of my room?
Satin [ˈsæt̬.ən] noun, informal
A type of fabric often confused for silk.

But my oh my, times have changed. There are many different kinds of sheets to choose from now. Color choice is not the only significant decision that you have to make. And fabric choice is arguably more important than color.

Some of the most enthusiastic arguments involve choosing between satin vs. cotton as a lot of people – whether it’s married couples, college sweethearts, etc. – just can’t seem to decide which sheet to use. And with each type of sheet having its own advantages and drawbacks, we totally understand the challenges of determining which fabric type is just right.

And if you’re spending more time tossing and turning as opposed to soundly sleeping, look no further! The sheets you’re sleeping on just might be the culprit! Satin and cotton sheets are great options to choose from with satin sheets offering a silky feel and an ability to keep you cool while traditional cotton sheets are highly durable and aesthetically pleasing.

If you’re stuck debating which type of sheets to buy, you’ve come to the right place! This guide will help break it down by looking at what satin and cotton fabrics are and the pros and cons of both satin and cotton sheets.

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Table of Contents

Don’t want to read through our whole guide? You can use our table of content to jump to the part most relevant to you!

  1. What is Satin?
  2. The Story of Cotton
  3. Satin vs. Cotton Sheets
  4. Top Rated Satin Bed Sheets
  5. Top Rated Cotton Bed Sheets

What is Satin?

what is satin?

Satin Definition

So, what is Satin? Let’s get this common misconception corrected right off the bat: Satin is not a raw material. Satin is a sleek and glossy fabric created with a particular type of textile weave, during the process woven material is run through hot cylinders. Having fewer interlaces results in the smooth and lustrous surface we all know and just love to caress.

How is Satin Made?

To be considered genuine satin, a fabric must be woven in a very specific manner. Satin is made of low-twist yarn by using the process of twill weaving. The weft threads, which are four horizontal yarns, are covered by a single lengthwise yarn, which leads to fewer interlacing, thus giving satin its softness.

The threads on top are called warp strands, which run vertically, while the one on the bottom is called a weft strand, which runs horizontally. This process is called floating, and lets large portions of thread reflect light, which makes the fabric shiny and glossy on one side.

And no, you should not confuse sateen with satin as sateen is a fabric made when a satin weave is applied to cotton.

Origin of Satin Fabric

Did you know that the word “satin” is actually derived from “Zaitun,” which is the Arabic name for the Chinese port Quanzhou, where this weave was first created more than 2,000 years ago?

During that time, the cultivation of silk was prevalent, so even peasant women used silk to master the craft of satin weaving. Silk clothing was not limited to upper classes and it was only a matter of time before one of China’s safely-guarded secrets eventually exploded all across Asia and to the western hemisphere.

When the 12th century came around, Italy became the first western country to manufacture satin, and by the 14th century, it became accessible to people all over Europe. However during that time, using silk made the fabric expensive so it was primarily reserved for aristocrats and the affluent.

What is Satin Used For?

Satin was such a preferred fabric for upholstery that Louis XV — the second-longest ruler of France who is best known for contributing to the decline of royal authority that led to the French Revolution in 1789 — used it to cover his ornate furniture in the Palace of Versailles.

It was not commonly used for dressmaking until the 1800s, but soon became sought after for its use in one of the lavish excesses of that time — a one time only evening gown amongst women of upper and working classes.

The 19th century also witnessed satin embellish the nude bodies of fashionable Parisian women in the form of sexy lingerie. Once ascribed to prostitutes in the French capital, satin soon became accepted through journalism and advertising, which endorsed the notion that luxurious underwear is vital.

Fast-forward to the 21st century and satin is a widely accessible fabric that’s used mainly for apparel, upholstery and bedding. Through the years though, it has retained its identity as a luxurious fabric synonymous with comfort and extravagance.

Satin is used to realize a lot of products, in particular elegant dresses, bridal and wedding wear, lingerie and bedding.
Check the best satin sheets deals here!

Why Should You Get Satin Sheets?

When it comes to beddings, few can match the luxury that satin sheets offer. From its elegant shine to the classy look of the material to the soft feeling it offers to your skin, satin sheets truly bring luxury to your bedroom, transforming its look and facilitating your comfort and rest. Using a satin sheet is a surefire way to boost your room’s ambiance and maximize its comfort potential.

Satin sheets give you a unique tactile sensation with a mix of softness and coolness. If you’re living in a tropical region, satin can be your sheet of choice. Why? This is because satin can refresh your skin and does not cling to it when it comes overly warm or damp. Instead, it smoothly glides over your skin and provides just the right amount of covering without adding heat.

If you have dry or itchy skin, you can find cool relief in between a satin sheet. Satin bedding is known for being the most plush against bare skin. And because the satin sheets make it possible to move effortlessly in bed without getting tangled up, you don’t have to worry about friction or heat possibly causing skin irritation.

And if you’re looking to add some zest into your marriage or relationship, satin sheets just might the answer you’re looking for. Satin sheets have been known to play the role of aphrodisiac as it provides unmatched comfort and softness that helps set the mood for a love-filled evening.

Are There Any Disadvantages to Getting Satin Sheets?

Before you get carried away with thoughts of an all-nighter in between satin sheets, give pause and be aware of these things before getting satin bedding:

Satin sheets may seem silkier and cooler to the touch than cotton sheets, but unfortunately, that softness you feel often doesn’t last, as satin bed sheets are notoriously tough to maintain, fray easily, and are prone to snagging.

Additionally, the slipperiness of satin sheets can be a curse as it can result in your comforters and pillows sliding off the bed, not to mention generating static electricity. (Who here thinks hair sticking straight up in the air adds to the romantic vibe? Yeah, we thought so!) Satin sheets may feel cool, they’re often less breathable as well.

Technically, satin is just a fabric weave that can be made with any of a wide range of raw materials. Most of the sheets you see labeled as “satin” are a combination of synthetic materials including rayon and polyester, sometimes mixed with a little bit of cotton. Polyester satin sheets don’t breathe all that well, trapping heat and moisture while you sleep. And because polyester is water resistant, good luck getting out the stains. Also, polyester or polyester blend satin sheets are a lot less durable and more prone to pilling and fading.

Doesn’t sound very romantic, does it?

Satin is often ranged against another popular fabric: cotton. If you’d like to learn more about cotton, its origins and how it stacks up against satin, continue reading below.

The Story of Cotton

what is cotton
Pop quiz: what fabric is the most used in the world today?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave naked all these years, you would know that the answer to this question is none other than cotton.

Cotton is derived from cultivated plants from the genus Gossypium. They have been nurtured since olden times for their fibres, which are used as textiles.

You might have taken it for granted but think about it. Cotton is as much a part of our daily lives as air. From the time we dry our faces with a soft cotton towel in the morning until we slide in between fresh cotton sheets at night.

Cotton literally is used for hundreds of reasons, from bed sheets to blue jeans to shoe strings. Clothing and household items are the largest uses, but industrial products also use up many thousands of bales. And if you didn’t know, cotton has other, more peculiar uses ranging from medicines to seed oil and would you believe, even sausage skins!

What is the History of Cotton?

The oldest cotton fibres were dated from roughly 5000 B.C. and were uncovered in good ‘ol Mexico. The Pharaohs of Egypt and the Maharajas of India have sported cotton for more than 5,000 years. Native Americans cultivated cotton as early as 1500. It was in the late 1700s that Englishman Samuel Slater, built the very first American cotton mill. These mills converted cotton fibres into yarn and cloth.

In 1793, Eli Whitney worked on the cotton gin, which mechanically detaches the seed from the lint fiber. Whitney called his machine a “gin,” short for the word “engine” that could do the work 10 times faster than by hand. Since then, technology has improved by many leaps and bounds, making cotton growth and production much more efficient and fast.

Cotton is grown and cultivated in a many countries, the most prominent of which are the United States, China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Greece and Australia.

How Does Cotton Grow?

Would you like to know where cotton grows best? Cotton is ideally grown on fertile, well-drained soils. There are different species of cotton, but the most prevalent ones are Upland Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) followed by Pima Cotton (Gossypium barbadense). Over in Southeast Asia, the Asiatic Cotton (Gossypium herbaceum and Gossypium arboreum) is grown in some regions.

Cotton is often planted in Spring when temperatures are over 16 degrees Celsius (60.8 degrees Fahrenheit). The cotton seeds germinate in 7-10 days. The bud, which is also known as a “square,” appears about 5-7 weeks after planting which forms flowers. The white blossoms become pollinated, turn pink and then wither producing green bolls (a boll is the rounded seed capsule of plants such as cotton or flax). The green bolls mature into cotton bolls with the white fluffy fibres. Plants are irrigated, fertilised and weeded, as needed, during the growing cycle.

Cotton is defoliated, a procedure wherein the leaves are taken away and then cotton harvested and compressed into truckload sized “modules” and transported to the cotton gin. The gin splits the cotton fibres from the seeds. Gins separate the seed and the lint is packed into 500 pound (227 kg) bales that are sent out to textile mills to make yarn. A standard bale of cotton is 55″ tall, 28″ wide and 21″ thick.

The cotton is carded or combed, making all of the fibers run parallel, and then spun into thread. The cottonseed at the gin is used as animal feed and garden fertilizer while the oil extracted from cottonseed is used in firearm and pharmaceutical industries.

What is Cotton Used For?

Cotton is an incredibly versatile and popular fiber, widely known for its performance and natural comfort. It’s used to make all kinds of clothes and homewares like bed sheets as well as for industrial purposes such as tarpaulins, tents, hotel sheets and army uniforms.

Cotton fiber can be woven or knitted into other fabrics such as velvet, corduroy, chambray, velour, jersey and flannel. In addition to textile products such as underwear, socks and t-shirts, cotton is also being utilized in fishnets, coffee filters, book binding and archival paper.

Cotton is considered to be both a food and a fiber crop. Cottonseed is fed to cattle and crushed to make oil. This cottonseed oil is used for cooking and in products like soap, margarine, emulsifiers, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, rubber and plastics.

Linters are the very short fibers that remain on the cottonseed after ginning. They are used to produce goods such as bandages, swabs, bank notes, cotton buds and x-rays.

Is Cotton Environmentally Sound?

Absolutely! If you’re worried about the environmental footprint of making cotton fabric… don’t be. Cotton is sustainable, renewable, and biodegradable, making it an excellent choice as an environmentally-friendly fiber throughout its entire product life cycle.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture indicated that only about 1.2 pounds of insecticides and 2.1 pounds of herbicides are applied to each acre of cotton. The average acre in the U.S. generates about 800 pounds of cotton. That works out to around 0.09 ounces of total pesticides applied per pound of cotton produced.

And with the advent of new technology, the number of pesticide applications has significantly diminished in the U.S. Farmers who live and work on their land have every personal and economic incentive to use less chemicals in production, not more! On a global scale, only 8.5% of all pesticides applied to crops are used to grow cotton.

As previously mentioned above, cotton is regulated as a food crop by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Cotton is grown just like other major food crops, meaning that there are stringent regulations that need to be followed. Research done all over the world consistently show no pesticide residue on the raw fiber or the textile products made from the fiber.

And if you are particularly concerned about how much water is being used to cultivate cotton, don’t you worry your pretty little head about it. Cotton is very drought and heat-tolerant. Cotton does not require excessive amounts of water. As a matter of fact, cotton uses less water than many other major crops produced in this country. Only 35% of U.S. cotton acreage needs some form of irrigation while the rest of the cotton land is supplied by natural rainfall.

Now that you’ve a fairly-wide view of the cotton and fabric, it’s time to dig deep and find out which suits you best when it comes to bed sheets: satin or cotton?
Check the best cotton sheets deals here!

Satin vs. Cotton Sheets: Which is for You?

satin vs cotton

Size

Don’t you just hate it when your newly-bought sheet doesn’t even fit your bed size?

When buying new sheets, you should take note of your bed size in deciding between cotton or satin sheets.

If you have a mattress that is unusually large in size such as a twin XL or California king, you’ll have a much easier time outfitting your bed with cotton sheets.

Satin sheets do come in specialty sizes but they’re often times more difficult to find and pricey to boot! But if you’re the type that likes having extra wiggle room while getting your beauty sleep and budget is not an issue, you surely won’t be having a difficult time finding a satin sheet to fit your mattress with.

Sheet sizes vary slightly among manufacturers, so before heading out the the store, measure your mattress or check the label if it’s still affixed, and write down the size. You also can measure your mattress and consult bed linen dimensions to buy fabric to make your own sheets.
Check the best satin vs cotton sheets deals here!

Temperature

One of the differences between satin and cotton sheets is the way they feel during various seasons. Satin is made from synthetic materials and holds heat more than cotton, making it an ideal winter fabric. Cotton is natural and is often very light and airy, making it more preferable for the summer season.

If you’re residing in places that boast of cool climates all year round such as Oregon or Colorado, satin can definitely work for you. But if you love the sunshine and live in hot spots such as Arizona or Florida, then cotton is the choice for you!

Cost

Usually, satin sheets cost more than cotton. However, some expensive weaves of cotton, such as Egyptian cotton, can also be very pricey. As a matter of fact, we found out that the most expensive cotton sheet in the world — Frette’s Glass Beads Ricamo — costs a whopping $2,740!

It is up to each individual buyer whether or not the silky feel of satin is worth the extra price. Cheaper forms of cotton, however, can have a stiff, uncomfortable feel, which should also be taken into account before deciding on a type of sheet to purchase.

Material

Satin is usually made from acetate or polyester. Both of these materials are synthetic, which is how the fabric can attain such a silky and smooth feel. Cotton sheets are made from cotton fibers, although at times, a blend of polyester and cotton or cotton and bamboo fibers are also used. The best cotton sheets are made from 100 percent cotton. Polyester satin is usually silkier than acetate satin.

Considerations

There are other factors to consider when weighing satin versus cotton sheets.

Weight plays a large role in sheet choice. Lighter-weight fabrics, such as satin, contour to the body. This means that the sheet will drape over almost every line of the body. This can get uncomfortable for some people who like more freedom at night.

Heavyweight cotton sheets usually produce a tent-like feel, which does not stick to the body as much but generally will work if you like that bundled-up feeling. But there are some cotton sheets that are of a lighter weight.

Benefits

There are benefits to both kinds of sheets.

There is an old wives’ tale that says that sleeping on satin is good for your skin and hair. Satin can soothe dry or irritated skin because it feels cool and glides right over the skin, which can work for those that have sensitive skin.

On the other hand, cotton sheets will not pill, which creates a bumpy, uncomfortable sleeping surface. Cotton is also durable and easy to maintain.
Those said, if you’d like to know which satin and cotton sheets we found to be the best, keep on reading below.

Top Rated and Recommended Satin Bed Sheets

recommended-satin-sheets

1. Natural Life Home 4-Piece Satin Sheet Set

  • 100% Polyester
  • Comes in multiple colors

Price & Reviews

Made of premium silky and soft fabric in solid colors, these super comfortable yet affordable sheets are the perfect companion for those longing for a nice, peaceful slumber after a long, hard day at work.

One of the most beloved in the market today, these 100% polyester satin sheets are often described by satisfied customers as cool and comfortable, and nice and soft to the touch.

The sheet sets come in King, Cal King, Queen, Full and Twin sizes and 11 different colors to choose from to match your bedroom. The set includes: flat sheet, fitted sheet and 2 pillowcase (twin only 1 pillowcase)

recommended-satin-sheets (4)-min

2. Celestial Silk Sheet Set

  • 100% Mulberry Silk
  • Made with a charmeuse weave

Price & Reviews

Though it tends to be more on the expensive side, you will absolutely adore this 19mm mulberry silk sheet set’s delicate, yet substantial feel. Mulberry silk is the highest quality silk available for purchase and will give you the most luxurious sleeping experience possible.
Made with a charmeuse weave — a silk fabric made with a particular way of weaving, allowing for extra luster and shine on the front side in exchange for a dull finish at the back — resulting in a supple, luxurious caress that you hope to find in silk sheets.
The natural proteins found in silk will also offer you a number of benefits such as temperature regulation and skin and hair moisture retention. The fabric is also hypoallergenic and antimicrobial.

It’s easy to see why it is preferred by many in spite of its price as the material insulates the sleeper, without weighing them down with layers.
The spectrum of 10 different available colours lets you get as bold or as subtle as you’d like with your bedding.

recommended polyester sheet

3. Madison Park Essentials Satin Sheet Set

  • 100% satin-weave polyester
  • Features silky high luster satin

Price & Reviews

While satin may not have the “luxe” quality of silk sheets, this material does have the key benefit of being vegan-friendly.
Because it’s so identical to silk in texture, satin also aids in reducing creases on your face and in your hair as you get that much-needed sleep. It also doesn’t cling onto your clothing, so you don’t have to make adjustments as often in the night.
You will definitely love the gentle weight and feel of this affordable satin sheet set, enjoying the “slippery” feeling that cotton just doesn’t have.

Top Rated and Recommended Cotton Bed Sheets

recommended cotton sheets

1. Brooklinen Luxe Core Sheet Set

  • 100% long-staple cotton
  • 480 thread count

Price & Reviews

Woven with a 480 thread count and made with the highest quality cotton on earth for soft, smooth, breathable luxury.
Good luck finding a site or review that doesn’t cite these as one of the most premium you will ever find.
The four-piece set is made from a 480-thread count in a soft sateen weave for an ultra deluxe feel. The ultra high quality sheets are also slightly heavier than their original models since they’re made of long form cotton.

The brand was also recently awarded by Men’s Health Magazine with the Best Bedding Award for 2018, getting recognition for using long-staple cotton fibers for its sheets—which reduces itchiness and pilling—and less-dense yarns, resulting in a lighter, crisper, and more comfortable bedspread
In addition, they’re Oeko-Tex certified free of harmful chemicals, so while you get your sleep, you won’t have to worry about a thing.

recommended cotton sheets

2. Mellanni 100% Cotton Bed Sheet Set

  • 100% Cotton
  • Woven with a 300 thread count and made of Percale

Price & Reviews

This is a reliable option that works well for different needs, whether it’s for your children’s use or for the occasion house guest.
By nature, the Mellanni brand makes high-quality linens that are soft and reliable for daily use.
In this case, the set offers luxurious comfort at a 300 thread-count.

Plus there are a plethora of other benefits such as: durability, breathability and fade resistance. You can also wash these without worrying as they’ll come out just as good as they did before they went in!

recommended cotton sheets

3. AmazonBasics 400 Thread Count Sheet Set

  • Expertly woven to produce a lustrous sateen finish
  • Wrinkle-resistant fabric for a consistently luxurious look

Price & Reviews

Just like you and me, finding an affordable option is usually at the top of my priorities. Therefore, you should take a look at the AmazonBasics 400 Thread Count Sheet Set as a staple to add to your linen closet, or on your bed.
Made of 100% cotton, the 400-thread-count sheet set provides breathability, reliable strength, and a wrinkle-free appearance.
Plus, the finish adds the touch of luxe your room definitely needs. The neutral color palette coordinates with current bedroom decor, while the decorative hem offers that extra oomph.

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