Percale Sheets vs. Microfiber

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Percale vs microfiber sheets? Do you ever think about the fabric you sleep on? When buying new sheets choosing the right weave and materials to suit your needs is important. If you’ve heard good things about both percale and microfiber sheet sets you might be wondering, “Which type of sheet is best?” The answer is unique to each person, but don’t worry. This guide will tell you everything you need to know to make a more informed decision.

You’ll love PERCALE sheets if you:

  • Prefer sheets made of natural materials
  • Want sheets that are more breathable
  • Tend to be a warm sleeper or are prone to night sweats

You’ll love MICROFIBER sheets if you:

  • Don’t mind sheets that use synthetic and natural materials
  • Want sheets that are more durable than cotton
  • Tend to sleep cool

What are percale sheets?

Cotton Cooling White Percale Sheet Set


The term percale is used to describe the tight (one thread over, one thread under) weave used to make sheets and other bedding. Percale sheets are often made using 100% cotton but can also come in blends of cotton and other materials like polyester and bamboo.

For superior percale sheets, look for those made with extra-long staple or long staple cotton such as Pima or Egyptian cotton.

Tuft & Needle Percale Sheet Set

Tuft & Needle, Percale Sheet Set, 215 Thread Count, 100% Cotton - Assorted Colors and Sizes (Queen, Sage)

Click here to view this percale sheet set on Amazon

Percale Sheets: Pros and Cons

  • Very durable and long lasting, so great value!
  • Breathable and cool
  • Matte finish is the same on both sides
  • Moisture wicking
  • Crisp, hence why used in hotels
  • Good for summertime, warmer climates
  • More allergy-friendly than microfiber
  • Too thin for some sleepers
  • Can make some noise when you move
  • A little more expensive
  • Cotton percale with a thread count over 400 prone to wrinkles

How do you soften new percale sheets?

White vinegar and baking soda cleaning essentials for white bedding and getting rid of smells and bacteria

There are several different tricks to softening your sheets. One inexpensive method featured on TruTV’s Hack My Life series is washing your sheets with a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar.

It helps to wash your sheets with warm or moderately hot water to get a good clean and then use cool water for the rinse cycle. This method will take the stiffness right out of your sheets and make them soft to the touch.

What are microfiber sheets?

White crisp cooling bedsheet

Microfiber sheets are both like and different than cotton percale sheets. Microfiber sheets use a percale weave but are made in a lab using a combination of silky material and polyester. This type of sheet set is machine made using synthetic materials (and some natural ones too).

These sheets are popular because they are durable, cost effective, and easy to take care of.

Southshore Fine Linens Sheet Set

Steel Gray Extra Deep Pocket Sheet Sets

Click here to view this 6-piece microfiber sheet set on Amazon

Microfiber Sheets: Pros and Cons

  • Soft to the touch
  • Very budget friendly
  • Quick drying
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Shrinking-resistant
  • Retains body heat but still breathable
  • Durable, and colors remain vibrant after washing
  • Silky feeling, sheets with ‘slip’
  • Stain resistant
  • Thin but not cheap
  • Tightly woven to repel bacteria, mites, and other allergens
  • Not all natural
  • Not ideal for hot sleepers/night sweats

How to wash microfiber sheets?

White sheets being taken out of the washing machine

Microfiber sheets are somewhat easier to care for than other sheets, including cotton percale. Here are a few steps you can follow:

Step 1: Read the label

Even though you can use the following steps to wash sheets in general, it’s important to read your sheets sets’ individual care instructions.

Remember that all fabrics are different and washing your sheets as intended will extend their lifetime!

Luckily, microfiber sheets are easy to care for and are usually machine washable.

Step 2: Wash your sheets by themselves, on a gentle cycle

To achieve the goal of nice clean bedding do not throw your sheets in a full load of laundry, mixed in with jeans, towels, and other items on a regular cycle. This is asking for trouble (and lint build-up on your sheets).

Treat your sheets with kindness by washing them alone on a gentle cycle. This allows your sheets to move around more freely in the washing machine and reduces the chances of pilling caused by friction.

Step 3: Use water between 30 and 60 degrees Celsius (if the label allows it!)

If your sheets are machine washable, pay attention to the heat limit. If there is none, it’s normal to wash microfiber sheets in warm water. Keep in mind, hotter water is more effective in getting rid of bacteria.

Step 4: Dry gently on low heat

If you have the space and time, hanging your sheets to dry is really the way to go. This is the gentlest method of drying your sheets, and aren’t sheets that come in out of the fresh air so nice?

When time is of the essence or it’s a rainy day, throwing your sheets in the dryer is not the worst thing especially if your care instructions allow it.

The important thing is to tumble your sheets dry on low heat to avoid any excess shrinking or damage. Don’t throw your sheets in with other laundry that takes a while to dry and don’t use fabric softeners because they contain chemicals that will get into your sheet fibers.

You can take out your sheets slightly damp and lay them out on your bed to finish drying.

Peru Pima 415 TC Percale 100% Peruvian Pima Cotton Duvet Cover Set

Peru Pima, Duvet Cover Set with 3 Pieces, 415 Thread Count, Percale, 100% Peruvian Pima Cotton, Premium and Breathable with Hidden Zip Closure, Full/Queen Size, White Solid Color

Click here to view this duvet cover set on Amazon

The Comparison Percale Sheets vs Microfiber

When it comes to comparing percale and microfiber, there are a lot of different factors that you can look at. When reading through the comparisons, notice if your preferences tend to lean one way or the other.

Thread Count vs. Denier

Typically, we talk about thread count when describing sheets, but microfiber sheet enthusiasts use a different term, denier, that described the thickness of the strands used to make microfiber bedding. Microfiber threads range from 0.5 to 1 denier of thickness (compared to 1.25 for silk strands).

Percale sheets typically start at a thread count of 180, with a range of 200-300 thread count being considered normal or good. Keep in mind that the higher the thread count, the thinner the threads. Super high thread counts may sound nice when used by marketers, but these sheets aren’t always as durable.

Hot vs. Cold Sleepers

Although similar, percale and microfiber sheets are not the equal when it comes to heat retention and breathability. To choose the right sheet set for you or another family member, you need to ask if you (or they) are generally hot or cold sleepers.

If you find yourself frequently throwing off your blankets during the night because you release a lot of body heat and work up a sweat easily, cotton percale sheets will be your best friend. These sheets are cool, breathable, light, and moisture wicking! Perfect for staying cool all night long while keeping covered.

Or are you the opposite? Always cold no matter what season, piling on the blankets to stay warm, turning up the heat so you don’t freeze at night? If that’s the case, then microfiber sheets are for you. They’re still lightweight but manage to retain some of your body heat at the same time so you don’t end up chilly.

Cost Effective vs. Luxurious

It’s possible that a good set of microfiber sheets can feel luxurious to you, especially if you’re not a fan of the way crisp hotel sheets feel.

However, microfiber sheets tend to be more budget friendly than their percale counterparts, making them an ideal choice if you are:

  • On a budget
  • Buying sheets for a large family
  • Want a spare set for guests or to use while washing your ‘main’ sheets
  • Are getting started with your first college apartment or home

Typically, percale sheets are a little more expensive and frequent washing/improper care can wear them out quicker causing issues like tearing and pilling.

Bedsure Duvet Cover Washed Microfiber Set

Bedsure White Duvet Cover Queen Size - Soft Prewashed Queen Duvet Cover Set, 3 Pieces, 1 Duvet Cover 90x90 Inches with Zipper Closure and 2 Pillow Shams, Comforter Not Included

Click here to view this 100% Microfiber sheet set on Amazon

Slippery Sheets vs. Crisp Sheets

As mentioned previously, microfiber sheets have a bit of ‘slip’ to them, much like sateen sheets. They have a little more sheen than percale sheets, which have a matte finish, and retain color better than cotton percale. You might want microfiber if you’re looking for a sheet set with shine or in a bright color.

If you prefer more natural, muted tones and sheets that don’t slide around, you’ll probably lean towards percale. These sheets are more like your usual hotel crisp sheets. They’re soft and comfortable on both sides. Percale sheets do make a little more noise when you move around though, which is something to keep in mind if you’re an exceptionally light sleeper.

Natural vs. Synthetic

The cotton fibers used to make 100% cotton percale sheets are more natural than the fibers and manufacturing process used to make microfiber sheets.

If you’re very into the environment, you may prefer percale as a more natural option.

Microfiber sheets, although a little more synthetic, are immensely popular and safe to use. Because of the combination of silky threads and polyester, these sheets benefit from additional stain and wrinkle resistance, as well as extra durability and ease of care.

Microfiber vs Percale Sheets: The Takeaway

When comparing different types of sheets, it’s hard to say that one is better than another. There are so many kinds of sheets sets on the market for a reason: because there are just as many different tastes/preferences as they are kinds of bedding.

Personally, cotton percale sheets are more comfortable and luxurious than microfiber. Percale sheets are better if you have a slightly larger budget for sheets, tend to sleep hot, and like crisp bedding.

Microfiber is best for people who want to save a little money, sleep cool, and enjoy sheets with a silkier touch.

Hopefully, this guide will help you decide which sheet type is best for you. It’s possible that over time you’ll have the opportunity to try both kinds of sheets. By switching it up, you can get to know the pros and cons of microfiber and percale. You might even find that you enjoy them both!