There are few things as important to a good night’s sleep as a good set of sheets. Even if the mattress is just right, if your sheets are uncomfortable, too rigid, or itchy, it can keep you up all night. So, finding the perfect sheets is a big deal. As of late, microfiber has become much more popular for bedding, but as with all new introductions, there are some detractors.
In particular, there are some who will say that cotton’s better because it’s “natural”. But is natural always the best? It’s time to look at the truth of the matter.
What is microfiber?
As the name would suggest, microfiber is a material woven of particularly fine material, measuring between 0.5 and 1 deniers of thickness. Microfiber is made using natural materials like wood pulp, but it most commonly uses synthetic materials like polyester.
Microfiber is well known for its strength and durability.
Natural isn’t always better
The biggest advantage that cotton has over microfiber, from the perspective of the average household owner, is that cotton is a natural material, and microfiber is often made using synthetic materials (even though it can be made with natural ones, too).
However, is natural always the best option? How much does it really matter?
Microfibers are very tightly wound, so the sheets are much better at repelling allergens and pollutants, unlike natural fabrics such as cotton which can trap them.
So, if you have sensitive sinuses, hay fever, or dust allergies, microfiber sheets might be the only truly comfortable choice for you.
Finer than most natural fabrics
All fabric bedding and sheets are measured by their thread count, which is how many threads of a particular fabric are woven together for a single piece of fabric.
You want a higher thread count, with a count of at least 300. This is the sign of a truly high-quality sheet, meaning that it’s much more comfortable and softer to the touch. But thread count is not everything.
Thread count can vary in all fabrics, including microfiber. However, the difference is that it’s a lot easier to achieve a higher thread count with microfiber because it’s not as hard to produce as it can be with natural fabric materials.
What’s more, microfiber tends to be a lot finer than natural fabric. The thickness of a material is described by its denier. All microfiber has to measure at under 1 denier. Compared that to high-quality silk, which measures at 1.25 deniers and the difference is clear.
Microfibers simply don’t exist in nature, so the only fabric with that kind of quality on the market is synthetic.
Good no matter what the weather
Most fabrics have strengths and weaknesses that make them a good fit for different seasons, usually depending on the temperature in your bedroom.
Microfiber might be one of the few materials that rival cotton in being able to keep you comfortable no matter how hot or cool it is, however.
For one, because the threads are so thin and so tightly woven together, microfiber is unrivaled when it comes to insulation. So, on a cold night, there are few fabrics that react to and trap your body heat, helping you keep warm and cozy when you’re all wrapped up.
That’s not to say that they work any less in hot weather. Microfiber might not be as breathable as cotton, but higher quality varieties will work perfectly fine.
Even better, microfiber has the same kind of smooth and slippery feel that satin does, which means it won’t stick to your skin when it’s hot.
The material is so lightweight and flexible that when paired with a thinner duvet, it can be very well suited to a summer night.
Is microfiber susceptible to pilling?
You may have seen it if you’ve owned low-quality sheets before. Pills, also known as bobbles, are the little balls of fibers that appear when the fabric slips out of the weave, causing it to rise up and stick out from the surface.
There are few things more unsightly on a nice clean sheet than lots of pilling.
In most cases, pilling is a result of low thread count. As mentioned, it’s a lot easier to get a microfiber with a higher thread count since they don’t cost as much as some other natural bedding materials do.
Better at keeping out humidity and moisture
You may already be familiar with microfiber for some of its other uses. This includes cloths and washing gloves for a wide variety of things, from baths and sinks to dishes and even cars.
But can a material that’s so good at scrubbing things clean really be comfortable?
The answer is a resounding yes, and it’s actually because of a particular quality that microfiber is so good at both. Due to its very tight weave of very thin fibers, there are few things as good as repelling moisture as microfiber.
First of all, this makes them a lot easier to wash. If you ever spill something on a microfiber sheet, you don’t have to worry about it leaking through, or leaving a troublesome stain on the sheet. But the same moisture repelling quality works for you, as well.
Microfiber is great for keeping your skin dry on humid nights, so you’re not going to be sweating up a storm under the sheets.
The practical choice
So, microfiber is easier to wash, less likely to stain, and dries three times quicker than cotton sheets. That’s a significant practical advantage for anyone running a busy household who doesn’t want to spend more time fussing over their bedding.
But there’s another practical advantage microfiber has, too: durability.
Microfiber is made from lots of little microscopic fibers, as the name would suggest. These fibers have no strength on their own, but when they’re combined together so tightly, they are exponentially stronger than natural materials with threads of fewer fibers.
High-quality microfiber is very resistant to tears, the higher the thread count, the more durable it is. With cotton, it’s not so simple. Most cotton sheets, even with high thread counts, tend to tear easily.
You need particularly strong brands of cotton, which are much more expensive, to get durability on a comparable level to microfiber. This means that cotton sheets can peel and become much less comfortable with every wash, whereas microfiber is more likely to stay strong.
“But is it breathable?”
This is one of the biggest detractions of microfiber sheets and it’s not necessarily an invalid point. The breathability of your sheets is hugely important. You don’t want sheets that are too cloying, irritating sensitive skin and keeping you too hot.
In general, microfiber fabric is tightly woven, one of the features that prevent water from seeping through.
In sheets with lower thread counts, this can mean that microfiber can be less breathable than you would like, making it a little less suitable for anyone with sensitive skin or anyone who gets hot at night. However, higher quality microfiber sheets don’t suffer from that problem as much.
Even high-quality microfiber sheets can be reasonably priced, so you don’t have to pay much more for the extra comfort.
There you have it, a closer look at microfiber and why it can be the superior choice when it comes to your bedding. Just make sure that you’re getting high-quality microfiber sheets with higher thread counts so you know you’re getting everything cotton can offer and more.