by Tonya Goodspeed
Deciding which type of luxury sheets to purchase is easier when you have the facts. Sateen sheets feel soft when new and have sheen to them, while Egyptian cotton sheets soften over time with use. Both are made from cotton and have much to offer, making the choice one of budget and personal taste.
About sateen sheets: Sateen sheets are 100 percent cotton sheets with a high thread count and a lustrous sheen. They are woven from combed, carded, or long-fiber cotton threads that are then mercerized, meaning they're soaked in lye and then in acid. This process not only strengthens the cotton fibers and makes them more durable, but also gives sateen sheets their signature sheen and helps them accept dye evenly.
Benefits of sateen: Sateen sheets, because of the mercerizing process, resist mildew, also making them a good choice for anyone suffering from allergies. Sateen sheets drape well and also have a high thread count due to the cotton fibers used. Sateen sheets, like Egyptian cotton sheets, are breathable and suitable for any season.
About Egyptian cotton sheets: Egyptian cotton is woven from the cotton plant gossypium barbadense, which is native to Peru and the West Indies but is also grown in certain American regions. This plant produces long, thin fibers that won't pill because the plant itself produces little to no lint. With proper care, Egyptian cotton sheets will last several decades, which helps justify a higher price tag.
Benefits of Egyptian cotton: Egyptian cotton sheets don't pill or produce much lint, making them a perfect choice for those suffering from dust allergies. Egyptian cotton sheets are extremely breathable and won't stifle you during warm months but will retain body heat during colder months. Also, the extra-long cotton fibers used to produce Egyptian cotton are also thinner, which translates to higher thread counts. This is why Egyptian cotton sheets are so durable.
Narrow down your choice: Although sateen sheets look and feel luxurious, they are prone to pilling and wrinkling. Egyptian cotton sheets keep a crisp, ironed look but are initially coarser than their sateen counterparts, softening after being washed repeatedly. Sateen sheets are soft right out of the package. Decide which of these factors matter more to you to make your final decision.
Published April 29, 2010
Updated November 26, 2014