Microfiber and cotton sheets are both excellent bedding choices with many benefits. They are very different materials, however, and the best one for you depends on several factors. These two types of bedding material each have a different feel and level of breathability. They also differ in cost, durability and drying time. You'll want to take all these factors into account when choosing the right bedding for you and your family.
For many, the feel of their sheets is the most important selection factor. Microfiber sheets are perfect for those who like a sleek, silky feel. If you move around a lot at night, microfiber sheets will let you slip and slide to your heart's content without creating a tangled mess. Microfiber sheets won't give you the crisp feel of cotton, however. If you like crawling into sheets that are soft but crisp like hotel linens, cotton is the choice for you. Cotton is also available in a jersey-knit that feels just like slipping on your favorite T-shirt.
Microfiber holds heat and is an excellent choice for those who get cold easily. If you are prone to night sweats or kick the blankets off frequently, cotton is a better option for you. As a natural fiber, cotton is much more breathable than microfiber and keeps you cooler. Cotton also wicks moisture better than microfiber, so it will pull the moisture away from you if you do sweat during the night. Microfiber, however, is better at resisting stains, which means sweat stains on your sheets could be a thing of the past. Be aware, however, that although microfiber resists stains better than cotton, it's almost impossible to get them out of microfiber once they find their way in.
Low-quality cotton sheets are subject to pilling, while low-end microfiber sheets likely to tear. High-end cottons and microfibers are both quite durable, however. Over time, the only difference you will notice between the two is color. Cottons do not hold dye as well as microfiber and so tend to fade over time. Microfibers are much more likely to stay vibrant after repeated washings. Cotton wears over time, pilling and thinning before failing. Microfibers tend to fail all at once, tearing or ripping the moment their useful life has ended. Both fabrics will eventually deteriorate, but cotton may give you more of a warning that its life is coming to an end.
When it comes to cost, quality matters. Cotton sheets with higher thread counts cost more than those with lower counts. The same is true of microfiber sheets. Microfiber sheets are rated in denier points. These points denote the thickness of the fibers used to make the sheets. A high denier count means thicker fibers and a higher quality product. Denier ratings affect the price of microfiber sheets in the same ways thread counts affect cotton, with higher numbers increasing the price. When compared to each other, however, cotton sheets cost more than microfiber. This is because microfiber is man-made and produced on demand. Cotton sheets, however, require time for the cotton to be grown, picked, processed and shipped before the process of making sheets even begins.
Cost of Ownership
Cotton sheets are more expensive to buy than microfiber and can be more expensive to own. Microfiber is, by definition, a thin material. This means it dries quickly. Cotton sheets are thicker and take longer to dry. If you frequently hang your sheets outside to dry, laundering costs likely aren't a factor for you. If, however, you're living on a tight budget or spending weekends at the laundromat, microfiber sheets are probably a better choice.