Polyester or Microfiber – Which is Better for Sheets?

Polyester or Microfiber – Which is Better for Sheets? Photo: pexels
Polyester or Microfiber – Which is Better for Sheets?
Photo: pexels

True or False? Polyester and microfiber are two entirely different materials – polyester is the stretchy material that makes up most clothes, and microfiber is for cloths and cleaning rags. Right?

Not exactly. Experts say they are actually closely related and more alike than different.

We spoke to two bedding experts about the materials to find out everything you need to know – from choosing the right fabric to purchasing bed linens. Here’s what they had to say:

Polyester is the Most Common Material

When it comes to fabrics, polyester is undoubtedly the most common and has been widely used for many years. Why?
Firstly, it’s cheaper.

“Polyester is a synthetic fabric made from petroleum and petroleum-derived products,” shares Torun Hannam, founder of The Bamboo Shop. “Polyester fabric is cheap to produce and is one of the most popular fabrics globally. [However], in recent decades, the popularity of 100% polyester in clothing and bed linens has declined in favor of blending it with natural fabrics like cotton to add softness and breathability.”

Secondly, it’s easy to wash. The properties of polyester reduce wrinkling and shrinkage. This makes the material easier to care for, which, concerning sheets, is a vital feature.

However, the main downside of polyester is that it has a more artificial feel due to the fabric. It also can’t shake off being seen as a synthetic material because of the synthetic construction of the fibers.

Microfiber Can Be Seen as an ‘Upgrade’ to Polyester

In some ways, microfiber can be viewed as an ‘upgrade’ to polyester, rather than an entirely different fabric. Made from a blend of polyester and nylon, microfiber has a slightly higher price point, but it offers more breathability and water absorption than most fabrics.

Why is Microfiber Pricier and by How Much?

“The cost of microfiber fabric is higher than polyester because the manufacturing process involved in producing ultra-fine microfiber threads is far more intricate,” shares Hannam. “Both materials are cheaper to produce than natural fibers.”
Microfiber is also a more durable material. “Microfiber bed linens are stronger than polyester bedding because of the split-weaving method,” shares Stephen Light, co-owner of Nolah Mattress. “The split weave allows microfiber fabrics to have a greater tensile strength than traditional polyester fabrics.”

The fabric has two main types of weaves: flat weave and split weave. Often, you can tell the difference by touch. (The split weave tends to cling more to your fingers.)

In a split weave fabric, fibers are split to create a finer multi-threaded material that is actually more absorbent of water. “This is why split-weave microfiber is popular in sportswear, as well as cleaning products like mops and cleaning cloths,” Hannam shares.

This is also the reason for microfiber’s popularity with sheets.

How Do Polyester and Microfiber Compare?

When it comes to comparing the fabrics – and specifically, comparing them as sheets – there are a few factors to consider.
First, Hannam looks at the similarities. “Microfiber and polyester are similar in many respects. Microfiber is typically made of polyester, nylon, or polyamide and other additives. The main difference is that microfiber, as the name suggests, is made from ultra-fine fibers of 0.7 deniers or less. For comparison, a silk strand has about one denier and is about one-fifth the diameter of a human hair strand.”

Because of these fine fibers in microfiber materials, it tends to be softer than polyester and thus more favored. However, neither material is eco-friendly. In fact, the production of both textiles contributes to pollution. And, as Hannam shares, “microfiber has the added drawback of contributing to the growing problem of microplastics in our oceans and waterways.”

Polyester and Microfiber Sheets: Which is Better?

So, how do you know which material to choose for your bed?
Depending on where you live and the temperatures, you will have different preferences and needs when it comes to your sheets. Moisture-absorbing properties are essential (especially if you sweat in your sleep!), as well as overall heating and cooling properties.

“Polyester is well-known for its lack of breathability (think of the sticky shirts of the 70s!),” says Hannam, “[making it] a poor choice for bed linens. Microfiber, on the other hand, is more breathable than polyester but cannot rival natural materials like cotton, linen, or bamboo.”

If you sleep hot or live in a hot place, polyester is probably not the best choice. But, if you need something to warm you or insulate you, polyester can help retain your body’s natural heat.

If you are looking for something more durable and lightweight, microfiber might be the right choice, but do not forget the ‘stickiness’ or static of this synthetic material.

If you’re searching for the perfect sheet, Hannam advises you prioritize breathability. “Look for 100% natural materials and avoid synthetic materials and blends that can make you sweat and overheat,” she shares. “For sheets, which lie closer to the body, it’s especially important to use only natural materials like cotton, linen, or bamboo.”

Polyester Sheets

– More affordable
– Longer lifespan

Not very breathable
Feels more synthetic


– More breathable
– Feels slightly less synthetic
– Feels softer and silkier compared to polyester

Somewhat pricier
Not as durable
Can create static ‘cling’
When comparing microfiber and polyester, if you’re aiming to spend less and have longer-lasting sheets for your beds, polyester makes more sense. If you favor natural materials and breathability, microfiber is a better choice and feels a tad less synthetic. However, both fabrics are man-made, so if you’re adamant about more natural materials, you should definitely consider alternative fabrics.

There are a few materials for sheets – from the well-known Egyptian cotton to the lesser-known bamboo. Or, if you’re looking for something completely different, there’s always the option to delve into different materials like cellulose fibers, or even sheets made from eucalyptus fibers!

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