Silk vs satin sheets – which one is the best?
Well, the first thing to realise is that there are many different types of silk – each having different properties that can influence how they will feel and perform.
Whilst ‘satin’ is actually a type of weave that could include varying fibers like silk, polyester, or nylon.
This means that the question doesn’t really make sense.
It’s kind of like asking:
‘Which is better – a BMW or a red car’?
Because a BMW is a type of car – just as silk is a type of fiber.
Whilst a red car could include a BMW or other types of cars – just as a satin weave could include silk or other types of fibers.
But don’t worry.
Because despite the confusion, by the end of this article you’re going to know which type of bed sheet is best for you.
All you need to do is follow along.
Because I’m going to break the whole thing down into really simple terms to give you a clear answer.
And when I say ‘bed sheet’ I mean a flat sheet that’s used as a top sheet to replace a duvet or comforter – although the properties discussed below can also extend to fitted sheets, duvet covers, and pillow cases to some extent too.
Now let’s define silk and satin for the purpose of this comparison guide.
What is Silk?
Image: Silk cocoons being harvested – stock photo used with permission.
Silk is a natural protein fiber that can be woven into textiles .
Mulberry silk is the best quality silk that you can buy and it’s the most prevalent type of natural silk used for the purpose of making bed sheets.
So for the rest of this article, when I say ‘silk’ – I mean 100% pure mulberry silk.
Mulberry silk is derived from the cocoons of the Bombyx mori silkworm and is harvested specifically for making silk sheets and other garments.
If you buy pure mulberry silk bed sheets then you can expect the following benefits.
Regulates Your Temperature (Usually)
When you shop for silk bed sheets, you’ll constantly hear about how silk is naturally good at regulating your temperature to help you sleep cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
This mostly true – since mulberry silk is naturally breathable.
However, as I said in my list of the best cooling bed sheets, silk bed sheets can actually be quite warming if the weave is tight and synthetic materials are also included.
Keeps You Dry
Silk is very good at pulling moisture away from your body – making it a good choice if you sweat a lot during the night.
Good For Allergies
Mulberry silk is naturally hypoallergenic – meaning that the material is less likely to irritate your skin.
Also, the fibers are more resistant to ambient allergens like pollen and dust – so there’s less chance of you experiencing a flare up since it’s harder for these particles to penetrate the fabric.
Silk contains the sericin protein which has 18 amino acids that help your skin to retain moisture which can smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles .
Good for Your Hair
Silk bed sheets can also prevent your hair from breaking and keep it looking healthy because the material helps your hair retain its natural oils.
Durable and Strong
Silk is one of the strongest natural fibers and makes for a very durable bed sheet when looked after and cleaned correctly.
Silk has a luxurious sheen due to the flat surface of the fibers that reflects light at many different angles.
Silk has a smooth, soft texture that’s not slippery.
Although there are many great benefits to silk, there are some drawbacks too, and they are as follows.
Real mulberry silk bed sheets are some of the most costly that you can buy.
This is because harvesting the silk is a laborious process and the finished product has many benefits that cannot be replicated by other types of materials.
Needs to be Washed With Care
Real silk needs to be washed either by hand or in the machine in either cold water or lukewarm water at no more than 30 degrees centigrade to avoid damaging the fibers, and should be hang-dried out of direct sunlight.
More details can be found in my guide to caring for silk bed sheets.
100% mulberry silk bed sheets are some of the most expensive sheets that you can buy – but they come with benefits that are pretty much unparalleled by any other type of sheet.
Silk bed sheets are probably the best choice for you if you don’t mind making an investment in exchange for a durable sheet that can regulate your temperature, minimise allergic reactions, keep your hair soft, ease fine lines and wrinkles, looks luxurious, and feels ultra soft.
Click the button below to see reviews for the best silk bed sheets that you can currently buy online.
What is Satin?
Satin is actually a type of weave that’s usually comprised of silk, polyester, or nylon fibers .
However, when people talk of ‘satin’ bed sheets in comparison to ‘silk’ they are often talking about a sheet that’s made from synthetic fibers using a satin weave that results in a smooth and shiny fabric that performs differently to bed sheets made from natural mulberry silk.
So to keep things simple – that’s the definition of satin that I’ll be going with in this comparison guide.
When you opt for a synthetic satin bed sheet, you can expect the following benefits.
Satin bed sheets made from polyester blends and other synthetic fabrics are much cheaper than real silk bed sheets.
Good For Cold Sweats
Synthetic satin bed sheets can be both warming and good at wicking away moisture – making them a good choice if you have a medical condition where you experience cold sweats.
Looks Like Silk
Satin sheets are known for their shiny sleek look that can rival that of real silk.
Here’s some of the drawbacks associated with synthetic satin bed sheets.
Can Feel Slippery
Unlike real silk, synthetic satin sheets can feel slippery to the touch which may not be to your liking.
Can Cause Overheating
Synthetic satin can trap heat and cause your body temperature to rise.
Whilst this may be desirable if you’re a cold sleeper this could be a problem in the summer or if you tend to sleep hot most of the time.
Not As Good For Allergies
The materials used in synthetic satin bed sheets is less hypoallergenic than natural silk and may actually cause textile dermatitis – where your skin reacts to the material to cause rashes and itching .
Synthetic satin bed sheets can look just as luxurious as natural silk sheets and cost a fraction of the price.
The drawbacks are that satin sheets can feel slippery, cause you to sleep too hot, and irritate your skin.
For normal sleepers, I would recommend buying satin sheets only if you’re certain that you’re not allergic to the materials, the manufacturer states that their sheets are breathable to prevent overheating, and you’re ok with how the sheets feel.
However, if you suffer from cold sweats or tend to sleep cold, then synthetic satin sheets might be the best choice for you because they tend to trap heat whilst being pretty good at wicking away moisture.
Click the button below to see my list of the top satin bed sheets to buy online now.
Silk vs Satin Sheets Compared
By now you’ve probably got a fair idea if silk or satin sheets are best for you.
But now I’m going to compare 100% mulberry silk sheets with synthetic satin sheets head-to-head on some key properties to help fill in any gaps.
Natural silk is far better at regulating your temperature than synthetic satin because silk is more breathable – whilst synthetic sheets tend to trap heat more readily.
Winner: silk for temperate sleepers – synthetic satin for cold sleepers and cold sweats.
Both silk and synthetic satin sheets are pretty good at absorbing moisture and allowing it to evaporate to help you stay dry at night.
Comfort and Feel
Natural silk feels soft and isn’t slippery – whereas synthetic satin is soft but very slippery.
Most people prefer the non-slippery feel of silk over synthetic satin.
Silk is naturally hypoallergenic which means that it’s good for combating allergies – whereas synthetic satin can actually cause allergic reactions and irritate your skin.
Cleaning and Care
Both silk and synthetic satin sheets need to be washed with care to ensure that they don’t become damaged.
Synthetic satin’s major advantage over mulberry silk is that it costs just a fraction of the price.
So the real question here is:
‘Which is better – 100% mulberry silk or synthetic satin bed sheets?’
And in my opinion – I think that silk is the clear winner here.
Because silk is better at regulating your temperature, guards against allergies, is better for your hair and skin, and feels super soft without being slippery.
Satin might be a viable option if you have cold sweats, sleep cold, don’t mind the slippery feel, and want to save money.
Let me know if you agree with this conclusion in the comments section below.
What Are the Best Silk and Satin Bed Sheets?
If you click the button below, you can see my list of the best silk and satin sheet sets that you can buy online right now.
Sources and References
 Wikipedia – Silk. Accessed 30/1/20.
 Wikipedia – Sericin. Accessed 30/1/20.
 Wikipedia – Satin. Accessed 30/1/20.
 WebMD – Am I Allergic to My Clothes? Accessed 30/1/20.
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
Through in-depth research and analysis, Dan’s goal with this website is to help others avoid such pitfalls by creating the best online resource for helping you find your ideal mattress, bedding, and bedroom furniture.
Dan is a qualified NVQ Level 2 Fitness Instructor with 6 years’ experience helping clients improve their health through diet, exercise, and proper sleep hygiene.
He also holds several college and university-level qualifications in health sciences, psychology, mathematics, art, and digital media creation – which helps him to publish well researched and informative product reviews as well as articles on sleep, health, wellbeing, and home decor.
Dan also has direct personal experience with insomnia, anxiety, misophonia (hypersensitivity to sounds), and pain from both acute and long-standing sporting injuries – he enjoys writing insightful articles around these subjects to help fellow sufferers of such conditions.
Learn more about Dan here.