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Tencel vs Cotton Sheet: What Is The Difference | Sustainable? Eco-friendly? Quality?

What is Tencel?

What is TencelWhat is Tencel

Tencel is another trade name for the fiber lyocell. An environmentally friendly fiber made of wood pulp; it has many of the properties of cotton. Textiles can be woven or knitted and range from crepes and chambrays to poplins and twills.

Tencel is seen as the fiber for the 21st century, and 100% tencel is already being developed for the fashion market. It can be used alone or blended with natural fibers or other manufactured fibers. It has a soft hand and is durable, comfortable to wear, resistant to wrinkles, and easy to clean. It has little elasticity.

Unlike bamboo and rayon, the supply chain of tencel is transparent. The fabric is acquired from the eucalyptus trees grown on farms. Tencel farming is considered sustainable by various bodies. This material gets rid of any negative impacts on the environment.

There are basically two forms of tencel. The first one is the silky, lustrous, and smooth, which does not fade and displays richness in color. The second one has a peach skin texture as well as feel with a dusty soft surface. Both types are remarkably soft and strong.

Tencel has introduced a new vigor to the sheeting industry. It provides an array of aesthetics from sophisticated textures of piece dyed sheets to the highest quality beddings with superb performance, brilliant durable colors, and natural appearance.

What is Cotton?

What is CottonWhat is Cotton

Cotton has historically been the fabric of choice for bedding. Cotton feels good, it is very absorbent, wears well, and softens with age. Because of the drawbacks with blends, and the continuing interest in sheeting, manufacturers took notice and started producing more and more cotton types.

The more they produce, the more the market grows, so that today we have a tremendous variety of colors, prints, and styles of cotton. Thanks to many well-known sheet makers, we now understand and appreciate the importance of cotton.

Cotton is available in more than one type, the most popular one being Egyptian cotton, which is the king of all cottons. Many of the finest sheets in the world are made of 100% Egyptian cotton.

The second type is the Supima cotton. It is grown in the southwestern US and other locations. This extra-long staple cotton boasts the second longest fibers, at over one inch. It also produces a very smooth, strong sheet that is a close second to Egyptian cotton.

The third type is Pima cotton. This is long fiber cotton that produces superior bedding. It is preferable to standard cotton, but not as luxurious as Egyptian or Supima. The name Pima refers to the grade of cotton fibers used.

The fourth type is cotton-polyester blends. The less expensive sheets are sometimes made with cotton-polyester blends. These sheets tend to wear unevenly and pill on the surface. They do not release moisture as well as cotton, and are not as easily cleaned. On the positive side, the most cotton-poly blends are generally wrinkled free.

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Head-to-Head Comparison between Tencel and Cotton

There are a number of differences that exist between tencel and cotton in terms of: price, aesthetics, durability, coolness, hygiene, comfort, and environmental impacts.


The production of tencel sheets is costly compared to the production of cotton sheets. This is so since tencel is hard to come by. Nevertheless, tencel beddings are most likely to survive regular washing for longer, and they save adequate time on washing and ironing.

Therefore, your investment on tencel sheets is worthy. However, if you are operating on a limited budget, then you should consider cotton, since it is the cheaper option. Cotton sheets may not be as durable as tencel, but they offer quality performance.


Tencel sheets are highly absorbent, making them very well dye, more hygienic, cooler, and smoother. This makes them livelier and less vulnerable to fading with regular washing.

On the other hand, cotton beddings have a more matte, crisp appearance compared to tencel. Cotton quilts are also known to dye very well.


As far as durability is concerned, tencel is more durable than cotton. Tencel wrinkles less than cotton and washes easily. Not to mention that it is not prone to thinning over time.

Then again, cotton is known to improve its performance over time. For instance, a set of Egyptian cotton beddings can serve you for fifty years.


Tencel sheets have superior hydrophilic properties. This simply means that they are very effective at keeping you cooler during sleep. These sheets are also highly breathable and good at wicking moisture away from your body.

Cotton is also breathable and very capable of wicking moisture away from your skin. Beddings made of cotton do feel when touched, and they will keep you warm in cooler weather. Cotton is also hypoallergenic.


Tencel is highly hydrophilic; therefore, it is very good at absorbing moisture from the skin, keeping you dry, cool, and clean.

Then again, cotton is hypoallergenic, non-irritating, and breathable. So, you will sleep comfortably, but not as comfy as tencel.


Most people are used to cotton, and this may be very confusing when choosing between cotton and tencel. Our vote is lyocell every time. Based on our findings, beddings made of tencel are better compared to most Egyptian cotton sheets.

In most cases, users are misguided by the high thread count of cotton sheets. For instance, some people may think that a 400 Egyptian cotton quilt is better than a 300 tencel sheet. However, the sleeping experience on a lyocell quilt will surprise you.

Nevertheless, if your budget restricts you from obtaining a lyocell sheet, then you can always settle for cotton. You should just make sure the material you choose is 100% cotton. This is so, since the more organic the material the better.

But you should not be focused on beddings that have a higher thread count. Instead, you should focus on the type of cotton used, such as Pima, Egyptian, or Combed cotton that are known to be highly durable and comfortable.

Stability in Processing and in Use

Woven sheets produced from tencel fiber have superior stability both in processing and in use. Resin-free fabrics give lower shrinkage in laundering than comparable cotton fabrics, and do not show the progressive shrinkage problems often associated with cotton and other fabrics.

Environmental Impacts

The wood pulp used in the production of tencel is obtained from trees specially grown on managed farms for producing lyocell. The pulp is dissolved in a non-toxic organic solvent, and then spun into fine fiber. Then it is washed to eliminate the solvents.

The solvent used is almost completely recovered from the manufacturing process. This makes this fiber completely environmentally friendly, unlike other synthetic fibers that contaminate the atmosphere, earth, and water due to emissions.

Final Verdict

Both tencel and cotton are great products. Tencel has many properties that make it a sustainable and important fiber. Unlike other fabrics in the market, tencel shares many properties with cotton. Not to mention that it is completely biodegradable.

Lyocell fiber may be the best choice for people with sensitive skin, hygiene problems, or issues with body heat. Tencel offers luxurious comfort and unmatched sleeping experience. However, cotton is the ideal alternative. All in all, the final choice is yours.