Quick Guide to Bedding Fabrics: Which Is the Best for You?

When searching for new bedding, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Should I opt for flat or fitted? What thread count do I need? How long will my new sheets last? The questions keep on coming.

White sustainable bedding

Then there’s the most important decision – the fabric! With this in mind, the Polygiene® team took a closer look at five different bedding fabrics. In this article, we highlight the strengths and weaknesses of traditional materials and examine the new IonSilk™ sheet from Owl + Lark. Read on to find out how the various materials are made, how they match up and what added value innovative textile technologies can offer.


Cotton is arguably the most common material for bed linen as it occupies a cost-quality sweet spot. Made from the natural fibers of the cotton plant, it works well in bedding because it is naturally soft, breathable, and durable. Aesthetic characteristics, such as the ability to hold dye well, also contribute to its popularity.

There are many types of cotton to choose between, and the finest cotton is markedly different from more inexpensive options. Pima cotton and Egyptian cotton rule the roost at the premium end and are associated with a luxurious feel. However, there are plenty of more cost-effective alternatives, too. We do recommend paying attention to the origins of your chosen cotton, though. You don’t want poor working and growing conditions to keep you awake at night! Look out for Fairtrade, OEKO-TEX, WRAP, and Global Recycle Standard (GRS) certifications when shopping. Historically, experts instructed consumers to pay close attention to cotton thread count, as this was thought to indicate the quality of the material. The higher the thread count, the better. However, with changes in technology, manufacturing processes, and consumer attitudes, thread count is no longer considered a key factor.


  • Soft feel but strong construction
  • Easy to clean
  • Comfortable


  • Quicker to wear
  • Considerable variety in cotton quality


Polyester is typically the most affordable bedding material and is renowned for its durability. It is a man-made fabric manufactured from a series of petroleum byproducts. The chemical reaction used to create polyester results in remarkably strong bonds, which contribute to the fabric’s hard-wearing reputation.

As a relatively inexpensive option, it is a popular choice for children’s bedding and situations where durability and low maintenance are crucial, such as large households. That said, polyester is not as soft or comfortable as cotton. It is made from plastics and cannot be considered environmentally friendly, either.

While offering ample warmth, polyester struggles in warmer weather, as it is nowhere near as breathable as other textiles on this list. It is often mixed into a polycotton blend to enhance performance. While not as breathable and absorbent as pure cotton, polycotton improves on traditional polyester bedding in these regards.


  • Inexpensive
  • Durable
  • Quick to dry


  • Less pleasant feel on the skin
  • Less environmentally friendly


Linen is made from fibers extracted from the stem of the flax plant and shares many qualities with cotton. It is highly breathable and dries quickly, ensuring it is well-suited to warmer climates. At the same time, it provides considerable warmth in cooler weather. It tends to have a more wrinkled and crumpled look than cotton. But many prefer the style, arguing it gives the fabric more character and charm.

Linen extraction and manufacturing are more complex and time-consuming than the equivalent processes for cotton, so it tends to be more expensive. It can also feel rougher on the skin at first, though this fades with time and several washes. Linen has a naturally thicker thread than many other fabrics, so do not be put off by lower thread counts. It is not an indication of quality but an intrinsic property of the material.


  • Excellent temperature regulation
  • Long-lasting
  • Some natural anti-microbial properties


  • Coarser texture than cotton
  • Might require multiple washes to achieve a smooth feel


Silk is often considered the pinnacle of luxury bedding and is sought after by anyone who appreciates an unbeatably soft and smooth feel on the skin. It is manufactured from the fibers produced by silkworms as they create their cocoon. Much like linen, this is a costly, labor-intensive process, which is why silk is often more expensive than other materials.

As well as its textural qualities, silk is appreciated for its ability to adapt well to different temperatures and climates and for its hypoallergenic qualities. This means the material is naturally resistant to dust, fungus, and mold. While it is long-lasting and durable, silk requires extra maintenance to keep it in good shape. 


  • Adapt to cool and warm temperatures
  • Hypoallergenic qualities
  • Luxurious feel


  • Cost
  • More difficult to maintain


Owl + Lark’s IonSilk is an innovative fabric that combines Eucalyptus Tencel™ and groundbreaking Polygiene StayFresh™ technology for bedding that feels wonderful, is kinder to the environment, and requires less washing. Cooler than cotton and as soft as silk, IonSilk is 100% safe for the skin and boasts excellent breathability and moisture-wicking properties. Unlike silk, it is entirely vegan-friendly.

Polygiene StayFresh™ industry-leading silver ion technology eliminates 99.97% of bacteria, ensuring your sheets stay fresher for longer and can be washed less frequently. In doing so, it enables IonSilk to retain all the positive qualities associated with luxurious silk while enhancing the material with advanced hygiene technology that improves the bedding’s lifespan, reduces its environmental impact, and encourages Mindful Living™.


  • Luxurious feel and guaranteed comfort
  • Wash less while retaining that fresh feel
  • Sustainable and ethical sourcing

A quick run down on bedding materials

All of the materials mentioned in this article have their advantages and disadvantages. However, new anti-microbial and odor-control solutions like Polygiene StayFresh™ are redefining what is possible and helping create new, exciting fabric options for customers. 

Owl + Lark’s IonSilk represents the next generation of bedding textiles and demonstrates how innovative technology like Polygiene StayFresh™ can create a more sustainable world without sacrificing your comfort or compromising performance.