TENCEL™ vs Cotton: What’s The Difference and Which Should You Buy
Considering that we spend a third of our lives sleeping, a good night’s rest is essential to our overall health and wellbeing, so it makes sense to invest in bedding that creates a relaxing bedroom environment. In fact, your bedding can make or break your sleep quality at night - whether you sleep soundly or toss and turn through the night.
Bed sheets come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and of course, materials, which could potentially make shopping for bedsheets online a daunting task. As Cotton retains first as the world’s most common bed sheet material, TENCEL™ fiber fabrics have also been rising in popularity, slowly but surely.
Shopping for bed sheets online should not be as complicated as it seems, and we are here to aid you in your decision - TENCEL™ or cotton, which is better suited for you. From their similarities to differences, we cover it all in our article. Continue reading to find out more.
TABLE OF CONTENT
TENCEL™ vs Cotton Go to Section
Who May Prefer TENCEL™ Go to Section
1. Hot Sleepers
2. Sensitive Skin
3. Luxurious Look
4. Eco-friendly Option
What Is TENCEL™ Go to Section
1. Types Of TENCEL™
2. Future Of TENCEL™
What Is Cotton Go to Section
1. Types Of Cotton
2. Future Of Cotton
Who May Prefer Cotton Go to Section
1. Breathable And Cozy
2. Increase Softness With Every Wash
3. Low Maintenance
4. More Affordable Option
How Weavve Produces Our Sheets Go to Section
1. TENCEL™ Lyocell Sheets
3. Responsibly Made
4. 100 Days To Sleep On It
TENCEL™ vs Cotton
TENCEL™ and cotton have different fibers, which can affect how the material feels. Both are prized for their breathability, durability and softness. Since both share distinct advantages, it may be difficult to choose between the two. Look no further as we break down their differences for you to make a well-informed decision to which sheets are best for you.
Eucalyptus wood that is harvested from natural forests and sustainably managed tree farms
Smooth, soft and silky from the first day of use
Smooth and even feel, gets softer with every wash
Breathable and moisture-wicking, excellent for regulating temperature in various climates
Smooth and even feel, gets softer with every wash
Smoother, drapey silk-like look
More vibrant as it retains dye better and is less prone to fading over time
Crisp, matte look
Suitable for sensitive skin
Hypoallergenic and antibacterial
Generally non-irritating on the skin
Resistant to wear and tear
Resistant to pilling
Depending on the staple length - the longer the fiber, the more durable
More likely to pile over time, depending on the staple length
More Wrinkle resistant
Not wrinkle resistant
Less likely to shrink
Shrinks more than TENCEL™ fibers, depending on the type of cotton
Requires less energy and water to produce
Less waste produced due to closed-loop process
Wood pulp sustainably sourced
Requires more energy and water to produce
Environmentally friendly alternative like organic cotton is available
Relatively easy care
(machine washable on gentle spin with cold water)
Easy to care for
(machine washable in warm water)
Generally higher price point than cotton due to costlier production
However, time and money saved on care and maintenance due to its durability makes the overall cost difference hard to quantify
Different price points available, from more budget-friendly to luxury options depending on the type of cotton.
Who may prefer TENCEL™
If you are someone who is prone to sweating in your sleep and struggles to find sheets to keep you cool throughout the night, then TENCEL™ sheets may be the thing for you. With exceptional thermoregulating and breathable properties, TENCEL™ beddings have been proven to feel cooler to the touch.
In fact, this ‘cooling feeling’ increases with increasing air humidity - perfect for Singapore’s weather conditions! This temperature regulating textile will keep you cool and dry in bed, allowing you to achieve a good night’s sleep anywhere, at any time.
Believe it or not, one of the biggest triggers of acne is the type of sheets you are sleeping on, especially spending approximately 8 hours a night lying in your sheets. As you sleep, your body expels heat which activates your sweat glands. This encourages the production of more sebum which leads to acne breakouts or itching on the skin.
Hence, TENCEL™ 's moisture-wicking abilities makes it the best sheets for people with sensitive skin or skin disorders, such as eczema or psoriasis. They are less likely to attract dust mites and slow down bacteria growth by 10 times as compared to cotton. The natural materials used in the production of TENCEL™ fibers has resulted in this hypoallergenic quality.
Bed sheets are an easy yet impactful way of giving a bedroom personality. With TENCEL™’s naturally silky look and resistance to wrinkles, TENCEL™ sheets are a sure way of giving a bed a luxurious finish effortlessly with a silk-like drape. They are also more vibrant and shine radiantly as it retains dye better and is less prone to fading over time.
Dread ironing your bed sheets? With its natural silky look and resistance to wrinkles, TENCEL™ bed sheets automatically give a bed a luxurious finish effortlessly. They are also relatively easy to care for despite having slightly more restrictions when it comes to cleaning. Hand washing is preferred but they are also machine washable on a delicate cycle with cold-water temperature.
In a recent study done by market research firm YouGov shows that more than half of Singapore consumers believe that firms should ensure that their supply chains do no harm to the environment. If you fall into this category of consumers, you may consider exploring TENCEL™ fiber sheets.
Production of TENCEL™ fibers is undeniably more environmentally friendly than other fibers as it involves a closed-loop process that recycles more than 99% of the solvent used in manufacturing. It also uses less water and energy than conventional cotton production.
Apart from minimal waste and better water conservation, TENCEL™ itself supports verified climate protection projects, specifically in communities impacted by the textile industry. These projects aim to help ill-prepared communities become more climate-resilient and introduce them to new sources of renewable energy. For example, improved cookstoves in Bangladesh, solar water heating in India and Kamphaeng Saen landfill gas to energy in Thailand.
This gives consumers who are all for sustainability a peace of mind knowing that they are supporting a brand that cares deeply about Mother Earth.
What is TENCEL™
Produced by Austrian textile company Lenzing AG, TENCEL™ is the brand name for semi-synthetic fibers such as modal and lyocell, two fabrics commonly used in bedding and clothing.
Lenzing’s core market is wood-based cellulose fibers. They manufacture viscose, modal and lyocell which are derived from sustainable wood and pulp, coming from certified and controlled sources. To produce this material, wood pulps are dissolved in a solvent and extruded through small holes to make fibers. The resulting fibers are then treated and spun into yarn.
From self-sufficient biorefineries and closed-loop production to being actively involved in the protection of endangered and primeval forests, it is clear that TENCEL™ fabrics are not only ethically produced but also eco-friendly all at the same time.
Types of TENCEL™
As noted earlier, TENCEL™ is Lenzing’s flagship brand for textiles using a variety of fibers that range from viscose to lyocell. While originating from all-natural, renewable and biodegradable sources, it may be difficult to tell the various fibers apart.
TYPES OF TENCEL™ FIBERS
LENZING™ ECOVERO™ Viscose fibers are derived from sustainable wood and pulp, coming from certified and controlled sources.
Modal is the second generation of regenerated cellulose fibers and was first developed by Lenzing who has the trademark for it.
TENCEL™ Modal is made from beech wood, sourced from sustainably managed forests in Austria and neighbouring countries.
Mainly made from sustainably sourced eucalyptus wood that is harvested from natural forests and sustainably managed tree farms.
Eucalyptus trees are fast-growing and require no toxic pesticides and very little water to thrive.
Compared to conventional viscose, the production of LENZING™ ECOVERO™ branded fibers generate up to 50% lower emissions and water
Things to note
Traditional manufacturing of viscose fibers is done through a chemical- heavy process that is often unregulated, producing toxic emissions and pollution.
They can also be blended with other fibers to improve its overall softness and comfort.
Some fabrics may contain a blend of TENCEL™ fibers with other fibers such as cotton or bamboo, to create fabrics such as bamboo lyocell. For a product to carry the TENCEL™ trademark and Lenzing TENCEL™ certification, it only has to contain 30% of the Lenzing fibers - hence it is important to check if the product you’re purchasing is pure, or simply a blend!
Blends are usually done to improve the feel, performance or durability of the fabric. However blends of TENCEL™ fibers typically do not retain the best of either material, hence it is always better to go pure.
Future of TENCEL™
TENCEL™ has come a long way since they started production and are still constantly thinking of new ways to improve and innovate through technology. Their latest innovation - REFIBRA™, advances the goals of designers and consumers who are increasingly interested in low impact options.
REFIBRA™ technology involves upcycling cotton scraps from garment production and transforming them into brand new cellulosic fiber materials for clothing and home products. It gives a second life to what would have otherwise been sent to landfills or incinerated.
REFIBRA™ is Lenzing’s first step in contributing towards the emerging circular economy of the future in the textile industry and further improves supply-chain transparency.
Photo from TENCEL™ REFIBRA™
Our Ultimate Guide to TENCEL™ fibers explores TENCEL™ and what it is all about in greater depths.
What is Cotton
Cotton is a natural fiber harvested from the cotton seed pod of cotton plants. It is the most widely used traditional material today - from drying our faces on a soft cotton towel in the morning, to putting on our favourite worn-in cotton t-shirt, until we slide between fresh cotton bed sheets at night, it is impossible to avoid cotton.
Photo from Threadcurve
The production of cotton fabric from cotton fibers these days requires a machine called Cotton Gin to remove the seeds from cotton bolls, as well as any dirt from the cotton. The raw cotton fibers are then transformed into long strands through a process called carding. These long strands are then spun into yarn and put through various chemical treatments to be dyed and finally woven into their designated textile material such as bed sheets or apparels.
It is no wonder that cotton is one of the most beloved and widely used fabrics in the world. It is a drought-resistant crop that occupies just 2.1% of the world’s arable land, yet meets 27% of the world’s textile needs. Traditionally, cotton has been associated with its fair share of social and environmental risks. However, the growing awareness about these drawbacks have prompted several worldwide initiatives to produce cotton more sustainably and equitably.
One of which being the 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge (2025 SCC), which aims to increase the percentage of world’s sustainable cotton from 22% to 50% by 2025. Programmes like these help to regulate cotton production to allow consumers to feel more assured about consuming cotton products.
Types of Cotton
Not all cotton is the same and the quality of fabric can be determined based on several factors - their staple length, their thread count and their weave.
Staple length, also known as the length of the fibers, is one of the most important factors in determining the softness of cotton fabrics. Extra-long staple cotton fibers make sheets and fabric that are finer, smoother and lighter.
Photo from Cottonworks
By definition, thread count is a measure of the total number of threads woven vertically (the warp) and horizontally (the weft) into one square inch of fabric. Generally, it is understood that the higher the thread count, the softer and smoother the sheets. However, sheets with thread count ranging from 400 - 600, when made with quality cotton fibers, is sufficient for a soft and luxurious finish.
In fact,what you hear and see on labels about thread count is usually a myth! Thread count should not be one of the key indicators when looking for quality sheets. However, knowing that thread count has a huge influence on consumers’ decisions, manufacturers may tend to employ creative math to manipulate their numbers as a promotional strategy.
Read more about the real truth behind bed sheet thread counts here.
The weave of a fabric is considered a design or construction of the yarn to achieve a particular pattern, which determines its durability.
At the end of the day, personal preference plays the biggest role in purchasing the best quality cotton bedding for yourself. Whether you’d prefer a warmer sheet to be snug and cozy or a cooling sheet to suit Singapore’s humid weather, we have compiled a brief description of the most common fabrics and weaves for you to make a better, well-formed choice to buying cotton bed sheets.
Types of Cotton Staple
Extra-long staple cotton
Long staple cotton
Short staple cotton
1 ⅜ inches to 2 inches long
At least 1 ¼ inches long
1 ⅛ inches long
Luxuriously soft and smooth, strong and most durable
Softer, stronger and more durable
Rougher, strong and durable
Gossypium Barbadense (Egyptian Cotton, Pima Cotton, Supima Cotton)
Gossypium Hirsutum (Upland Cotton)
Gossypium Arboreum (Muslin), Gossypium Herbaceum (Levant Cotton)
When it comes to the various types of cotton, it is important to ensure that the type of cotton that the fabric claims to be from is verified or certified.
For example, cotton that is grown in Egypt, both long and short staple, can be technically labelled as Egyptian cotton which makes it hard to guarantee the quality of the ‘Egyptian cotton’ that you’re buying. And there are a lot of fabrics claiming to be Pima cotton that are actually just a blend of pima. Hence, look out for a verified Pima cotton, Supima instead.
Photo from Pimacott
Types of Cotton Blends / Weaves
Percale has a basic one thread over, one thread under pattern
Woven using a four over and one under weave pattern leaving more continuous thread surfaces exposed, leaving the fabric feeling luxurious and smooth, similar to silk
Twill has diagonal ribbing, just like denim
Lightweight, crisp against the skin
Percale sheets are prone to wrinkling in the wash and may need ironing to maintain their crispness, which may not be as easy to maintain as other sheets.
Luxurious sheen and smooth feel and gets softer with each wash
Sateen sheets may sometimes be prone to wrinkling during the wash, but generally more resistant to wrinkling than percale
Relatively rougher texture
Future of Cotton
Slowly but steadily, the demand for sustainable and eco-friendly fabric from consumers has increased. Thus pushing for the cotton industry to reduce its environmental impacts through innovation for a more sustainable solution.
One such example is organic cotton. Grown without using harmful chemicals and pesticides, organic cotton poses as a viable alternative to traditional cotton. This chemical-free production reduces the negative impacts to the health of cotton farmers and locals. Moreover, organic cotton requires less water as compared to conventional cotton, which has a positive impact on water conservation at cotton plantations.
Photo from aboutorganiccotton.org
However, organic cotton production is far from perfect. Organic cotton yields fewer fibers which requires more plants and ultimately more land to produce. It also requires a lot of processing and dying which are also chemically intensive. Thus is it important for consumers to be aware of greenwashing of brands who claim to use organic cotton without certification.
fibers that are grown organically but processed with harmful chemicals may still carry the organic label.
A certification you may want to look out for is the Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex® label, which tests every product component for harmful levels of over 100 individual substances from 17 groups of chemicals.
Who may prefer Cotton
Breathable and Cozy
Cotton fibers are natural hollow fibers, known for their breathability and softness. If you are looking to slip under something cozy for a good night’s sleep, cotton may be the material for you.
Increased Softness with Every Wash
Sometimes cotton bed sheets may feel scratchy or overly crisp at the start of its use, however, rest assured that this is not forever. Cotton bed sheets generally get softer with each wash, thus the longer you use them, the more comfy they feel.
Unlike TENCEL™ fiber sheets, cotton sheets are able to sustain higher temperatures of washing and drying, making them easy to wash and care for.
More Affordable Option
With a wide variety of cotton types and blends, there is surely something for everyone at different price points. If TENCEL™ fiber or bamboo beddings are out of the budget, quality cotton bed sheets are just a good option for luxury comfort. They, too, have a soft touch to the skin and do the job of keeping you cozy at night, without having to empty your wallet.
See our blog post for a more in depth guide on how to choose great bed linen and find out more.
Ultimately your personal preference plays the biggest role in purchasing the best bedding material for yourself. From your lifestyle to sleeping style and your views about sustainability, there could be an argument made between TENCEL™ vs Cotton bed sheets .
How Weavve produces our sheets
TENCEL™ Lyocell sheets
Cotton Sateen sheets
The Weavve Cotton sheet starts with extra-long staple cotton fibers. Fewer extra-long staple fibers are required to spin the same length of yarn. As Weavve’s threads are finer (100 yarn count), we’re able to squeeze more together, resulting in a high thread count. We’re also using single ply threads, giving you stronger, smoother and lighter sheets.
Our cotton sateen linen uses a four over and one under weave pattern as well as processes like singeing and calendering to give our sateen sheets a luxurious sheen and smooth feel. Pre shrinking also prevents our sheets from shrinking during regular washing.
Here at Weavve, we pride ourselves on being committed to responsible sourcing, production, sale and use of our products. We take great effort in ensuring that our decisions account for all the people who help build our products, the environment and our consumers. From certified Standard 100 by Oeko Tex® sheets to BSCI certified factories, Weavve make sures that everyone is cared for at every step of the way.
100 Days to Sleep On It
Buying a sheet should be easy and delightful. Here at Weavve, we are fully committed to making exceptional products and our 100 day free return policy makes it easy for you to take the leap of faith, especially for first time users. Learn more about our 100 Day Free Trial.
ASK US HOW TO SLEEP BETTER
Frequently Asked Questions: TENCEL™ vs Cotton
Another fabric gaining popularity in households is Bamboo but what is the difference between the two wood-based fabrics?
Bamboo is the world’s fastest-growing plant. As such, bamboo bedding isn't just sustainable, it's considered environmentally-friendly to produce, requiring no pesticides to grow and using less water than cotton production. However, it is important to note that bamboo does have to undergo intensive chemical processes to turn it from raw bamboo pulp into yarn. Bamboo bed sheets are soft, cool, hypoallergenic and antibacterial, making it a popular pick.
While there are a few ways to chemically create bamboo fibers, the most common process is the viscose process which requires hydrolysis alkalization and several phases of bleaching. After being washed and soaked, these fibers are then spun into threads which are spun further into bamboo fiber yarns. The bamboo fiber yarns are then weaved into bamboo fabrics.
What is TENCEL™ material? A natural and sustainable material taking the bedding world by storm is TENCEL™ Lyocell. It is made from wood cellulose, often obtained from eucalyptus trees that are grown on farms (meaning no koalas are harmed or displaced by the production of this material). The process used to grow and create TENCEL™ fibers is the most eco-friendly out of all semi-synthetic fibers, and has won awards for its low environmental impact.
TENCEL™ by Lenzing eliminates the negative environmental impacts of traditional fiber manufacturing by using innovative sustainable technologies. No nasty chemicals or water-wasting irrigation systems are needed to grow eucalyptus trees, making TENCEL™ Lyocell sheets biodegradable and sustainable. TENCEL™ Lyocell fiber is naturally hypoallergenic, and a great regulator of temperature. TENCEL™ bed sheets are also strong and durable which makes it easy to maintain.
Thanks to the natural structure of the lyocell fiber, bed linen made from TENCEL™ fibers is most well known for how it feels - exceptionally silky smooth and cool on the skin. This is great for hot sleepers and best for humid climates. Long fibers are also used when weaving Weavve TENCEL™ fiber sheets which results in a smoother surface that is not only comfortable but also beneficial to those with sensitive or easily-irritated skin.
An additional favourite feature of TENCEL™ fibers is that it is less prone to wrinkling and less vulnerable to fading with regular washing. It is also less likely to shrink and not prone to becoming thin over time. As TENCEL™ Lyocell is a strong fiber with a higher dry and wet tensile strength (compared to silk and modal), it is capable of keeping 85% of its dry tenacity under wet conditions, allowing the fibers to retain their shape.
What is the difference between TENCEL™ and Cotton?
TENCEL™ and cotton have different fibers, which can affect how the material feels. Both are prized for their breathability, durability and softness. Here is a summary of their differences.
TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers are ethically sourced from eucalyptus wood. To produce this material, wood pulps are dissolved in a solvent and extruded through small holes to make fibers. The resulting fibers are then treated and spun into yarn.
Cotton fibers are sourced from cotton plants. The production of cotton fabric from cotton fibers these days requires a machine called Cotton Gin to remove the seeds from cotton bolls, as well as any dirt from the cotton. The raw cotton fibers are then transformed into long strands through a process called carding. These long strands are then spun into yarn and put through various chemical treatments to be dyed and finally woven into their designated textile material such as bed sheets or apparels.
In terms of breathability, both TENCEL™ Lyocell and cotton are both great options, though TENCEL™ Lyocell will be a better candidate. The lyocell fibers have moisture-wicking properties that keeps users cool and dry throughout. For those with sensitive skin and need something gentle, TENCEL™’s smooth surface and good temperature regulation will make it a better choice than cotton.
As for durability, TENCEL™ Lyocell is more resistant to wear and tear and pilling than cotton. Cotton sheets are also durable, depending on its staple length and quality of cotton used - the longer the fiber, the more durable it is.
TENCEL™ fabric tends to feel softer than Cotton, though both feel smooth to the touch. TENCEL™ Lyocell has an incredibly silky and cool feel from the first day of use. Cotton sheets may feel scratchy or overly crisp at the start of its use, but gets softer with every wash.
Lastly, the production of TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers is undeniably more environmentally friendly than other fibers as it involves a closed-loop process that recycles more than 99% of the solvent used in manufacturing. It also uses less water and energy than conventional cotton production.
Is TENCEL™ better than Cotton?
At the end of the day, personal preference plays the biggest role in purchasing the best bedding material for yourself. From your lifestyle to sleeping style and your views about sustainability, there could be an argument made between the different fabrics.
TENCEL™ is better than Cotton for people who:
- are hot sleepers
- have sensitive skin
- likes the sustainable and eco-friendly production of TENCEL™ fibers
- looking for a fabric that shares the texture of silk and feels cooler than linen.
Cotton is better than TENCEL™ for people who:
- like to be cozy in bed and the snug feel of a crisp cotton shirt
- want their sheets to get softer with each wash looking for sheets that get softer with every wash
- looking for a sumptuous, smooth feel without the drapey look of silk.
- need breathable bed sheets that can hold up
What is the best material for hot sleepers?
Both TENCEL™ fiber and cotton sheets are good options for hot sleepers as they are cooling. However, TENCEL™ fiber bed sheet is the best choice for hot sleepers because of its moisture-wicking property. This allows for better thermoregulation especially in high humidity such as Singapore’s weather condition.
Is TENCEL™ a breathable fabric?
One of TENCEL™ fibers’ greatest strengths is that they have exceptional thermoregulating and breathable properties. This microfiber makes TENCEL™ beddings feel cooler to the touch. In fact, this ‘cooling feeling’ increases with increasing air humidity - perfect for Singapore’s weather conditions! This temperature regulating textile will keep you cool and dry in bed, allowing you to achieve a good night’s sleep anywhere, at any time.
Is TENCEL™ more breathable than cotton?
What gives a fabric its breathability is the size of their fibers. Cotton fibers are hollow whereas TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers are nano fibrils - very, very small fibers. Hence making TENCEL™ moisture-wicking, allowing sweat to evaporate more efficiently from your skin, rather than sticking to it.
So in short, yes, TENCEL™ is more breathable than cotton.
Does TENCEL™ shrink like cotton?
Even though TENCEL™ fiber fabrics require slightly more delicate care during wash, they are resistant to shrinking. Cotton sheets on the other hand, may shrink with each wash, depending on the type of cotton used.
Check out our Usage and Care Guide for more information on how to prevent significant wrinkling for your Weavve sheets.
Is TENCEL™ biodegradable?
TENCEL™ Lyocell and Modal fibers have been certified by the Belgian certification company Vinçotte as biodegradable and compostable under industrial, home, soil and marine conditions. Thus after their natural lifespan, they can fully revert back to nature.
I’m still not sure about the Lyocell sheets. What if I change my mind?
Don't worry- it's okay if it's not right for you! Our bed linens come with a free 100 day-trial. (Seriously!) This means that if you find that the Lyocell bedsheet is not for you within 100 days of your purchase, we'll happily refund you back your money.