Hemp Sheets vs Cotton – All you need to know (2023)

hem sheets vs cotton thumb

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Hemp Sheets vs cotton


In this article, we discuss the pros, cons, and features of hemp sheets vs cotton.

We cover all you need to know from environmental impact to texture, to comfort.

So if you can’t quite choose, or are looking to find the best one that works for your needs, read on!

Quick Summary

• Hemp sheets are significantly more sustainable. Choose hemp if this matters.
• Both hemp and cotton are breathable, hemp slightly more so.
• Both hemp and cotton sheets are absorbent, but hemp is more so.
• Cotton is softer but hemp gets softer the more it’s washed.
• Both hemp and cotton sheets wrinkle easily.
• Both hemp and cotton sheets are durable but hemp is more so.
• Cotton sheets have more elasticity than hemp sheets


Are hemp or cotton sheets more breathable?

Actually, both hemp and cotton are quite breathable however sometimes it can depend on the kind of cotton fabric.

The reason they are both breathable fabrics is that they are made of natural fibers.

Hemp fiber tends to be more breathable because it has larger surface areas and longer fibers than synthetic fibers.

hemp sheets vs cotton beathability


This allows them to absorb more moisture and keep the air inside the fabric moist, which helps to regulate your body temperature.

However sometimes with cotton fabrics, the chemicals used to treat cottons, such as wrinkle-resistant and stain-resistant chemicals, can make the fabric less breathable.

This is because these chemicals can reduce the surface area and length of the fibers, which reduces the ability of the fabric to absorb moisture.

If you had to choose though, hemp is the more breathable of the two.1

Are Hemp Sheets More Absorbent?

Hemp sheets are SUPER water absorbent – four times more than cotton,2 and its absorbency comes from its large surface areas and long fibers.

The longer the fiber, the more surface area it has to absorb moisture.

hemp sheets vs cotton absorbency


Hemp sheets can absorb up to 20% of their own weight, making them ideal for people who sweat at night or live in a humid climate.

But don’t be fooled, cotton is also very absorbent.

This absorbancy in both materials means that they can be easily dyed.

The Look, Touch & Feel

Natural hemp fabric is usually light beige to grey beige. The color comes from the plant’s fibers, which are unbleached and undyed.

Cotton’s natural color is often greyish however often, cotton sheets are often treated with chemicals to make them whiter.

In regards to how they look and feel, hemp is a sturdy, coarse fabric with a textured feel, in the beginning, however, hemp does get more soft with each wash.

It’s often compared to linen in terms of its look and feels.

Cotton is a soft, smooth fabric, especially depending on how it was woven. Cotton can be woven to different levels of softness.

Durability

Hemp fibers are a much stronger fiber than organic cotton and are actually four times stronger3, meaning hemp bed sheets are more durable and longer lasting.

Hemp, in fact, happens to be one of the most durable natural fibers on the planet. 4

Environmental Impacts

Environmental aspects are where hemp as a fabric shines.

Hemp is extremely eco-friendly and below we will detail how much better for the environment can be compared to organic sheets made from cotton.

• Hemp uses only 5% of the water of cotton5

Hemp is a great replacement for cotton due to its low water consumption.

The production of one kilogram requires only 2-5 times as much freshwater.

• Hemp has far better crop yields

It requires half the amount of land per 2,000 pounds of produce compared to cotton but cotton still takes up more than three times the water.6

hemp sheets vs cotton environmental impact


• Hemp helps the soil

It helps to improve soil health.

The deep roots of hemp plants help to loosen compacted soil, increase aeration and reduce soil erosion.

This improved soil structure helps to promote healthy plant growth and can even help to prevent erosion.7

• CO2 sequestration

Hemp has co2 sequestration.

When the plants grow, they take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their leaves, stems, and roots.

This process, called photosynthesis, helps to offset the greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere.

As a result, hemp can play an important role in mitigating climate change.

In fact, one hectare of industrial hemp can absorb 15 tonnes of CO2 per hectare. 8

Although cotton plants may sequester CO2, it does not so near the level hemp does.

• Hemp does not require any chemicals to grow

Hemp requires no chemical fertilizers or pesticides to grow, unlike conventional cotton.

Organic cotton, though organic, can also use more water and land space to make up for the lack of chemicals, so in some ways, neither is a great solution.

Stretchability

One of the drawbacks perhaps of hemp sheets is that they are not very stretchy, in fact, hemp stretches less than any other natural fiber.9

Cotton on the other hand doesn’t stretch naturally but can be made to stretch through the process of mercerizing which is a chemical treatment to improve tear strength.

Wrinkle-Resistance

When it comes to wrinkles, there is no real winner here as both cotton and hemp wrinkle quite easily.

Is hemp or cotton sheets better for cooling?

Hemp sheets are better for cooling because they are made of porous fibers.

This means that the fabric allows your skin to breathe more easily than synthetic fabrics.

This allows them to absorb more moisture and keep the air inside the fabric moist, which helps to regulate your body temperature.

Hemp sheets also have better insulation qualities, which means they will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter and make them a great choice of bedding. 10

Hemp Sheets vs Cotton

When comparing hemp sheets vs cotton there are a number of benefits for choosing hemp sheets including environmental impacts, absorbency, breathability, and cooling, however, cotton has advantages with elasticity and softness.

Wondering about hemp or linen or bamboo sheets?

Check out our breakdown and comparison of hemp and linen fibers and linen fabric here and bamboo sheets here.


References
  1. https://www.panaprium.com/blogs/i/hemp-breathable-cotton#:~:text=Hemp%20fares%20very%20well%20against,yield%20per%20acre%20than%20cotton.
  2. https://www.hempgallery.com.au/blogs/journal/everything-to-know-about-hemp-fabric
  3. https://stridewise.com/hemp-vs-cotton/#:~:text=Hemp%20fabric%20is%20four%20times,the%20elements%2C%20hemp%20is%20it.
  4. https://cfda.com/resources/materials/detail/hemp#:~:text=Hemp%20is%20one%20of%20the%20strongest%20and%20most%20durable%20of,light%2C%20mold%2C%20and%20mildew.
  5. https://www.sei.org/publications/ecological-footprint-water-analysis-cotton-hemp-polyester/.
  6. https://wamaunderwear.com/blogs/news/hemp-vs-cotton
  7. https://hempnz.co.nz/benefits/hemp-environmental-benefits/#:~:text=Hemp%20can%20grow%20in%20a,stems%20are%20rich%20in%20nutrients.
  8. https://ec.europa.eu/environment/forests/pdf/respondents-additional-inputs/European%20Industrial%20Hemp%20Association%20(EIHA).pdf
  9. https://oecotextiles.blog/2015/08/05/should-i-choose-a-hemp-or-linen-fabric/
  10. https://www.sympaticoclothing.com/blog/why-hemp-clothing-is-such-a-great-choice-for-layering/
Ben Turner

Growing up in New Zealand I have always had the gift of living in a beautiful, natural environment. With all the changes happening in the world, I wanted to actively try and make a difference (be it big or small) in helping protect nature that we have.

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