difference between fleece and flannel sheets

When people are looking for warmer and cozier sheets to use during winter, they usually find themselves facing a choice: flannel or fleece sheets? In other words, which difference between fleece and flannel sheets?

In fact, these two materials share some common features. They are both warm cozy, and soft. But there are some substantial differences that ultimately affect the choice. In this article, we are going to learn more about these types of sheets and find out which ones are the best sheets for night sweats.

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Overview: Flannel vs. Fleece Sheets

FiberPolyester-derivedMostly cotton
Insulation (warmth)Highly insulativePleasantly warm
NuancesTends to pill
Loses its shape over time
Might shrink after washing

Flannel sheets

What is flannel made of?

Flannel fabric is most commonly made of cotton. Sometimes synthetic fibers are added to improve durability and make care a little bit simpler. Other options for flannel fabric are wool and polyester (micro flannel).

How flannel is made?

Flannel is a woven fabric made of loosely spun yarns. Unlike percale or sateen sheets, in which long staple yarns are used to avoid pilling and provide a smooth surface, flannel sheets have thousands of fine yarns. After the fabric is woven, it gets brushed to loosen and raise thin fibers across the surface. These raised fibers (also called nap) are responsible for the slight fluffiness and coziness of flannel fabric. Some sheets get napped only on one side, while the thicker and more durable ones can be napped on both sides. To achieve even more loft and softness.

Flannel fabric is woven using either twill weave or percale (plain) weave. In the former case, the fabric is a little bit stretchy. Fitted sheets made of twill weave flannel sit better on mattresses.

Are flannel sheets good for summer?

Unless you are a cold sleeper or prefer to sleep with an air conditioner turned on low, flannel sheets are not the best choice for the summer. They are breathable due to high cotton content, but they are thicker than regular cotton sheets. Besides, they don’t give that crisp, cooling sensation that is very common with percale or sateen sheets. That’s not to say that flannel sheets should be avoided whatsoever during summer. If you feel like you absolutely need something soft and cozy to sleep on and under, nothing should stop you from doing that.

Cotton flannel sheets are breathable. They might look and feel thick, but indeed they are not. Therefore, if you are not an exceptionally hot sleeper, flannel sheets can be used all year round.

cotton flannel sheets reviews

What is the difference between flannel and plaid?

The word ‘plaid’ is often used as a synonym for flannel, but that is not entirely correct. Indeed, many flannel sheets and bedding sets feature plaid or tartan designs. But the difference is that plaid is a design, while flannel is fabric. Apparently, we don’t see a plaid design on sateen or percale sheets that often, that’s why we have come to associate it with flannel. However, there is a myriad of other design options for flannel sheets, so everyone can find something to suit their tastes.

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What Are Your Best Sheets for Summer and Winter?

Unless you live in Texas, use soft flannel sheets all year round. They are fluffy, skin-friendly and breathable. Why not here? Hot humid climate would make you sweat hard. But on the other hand, thunderstorms and tornadoes might make you feel anxious or a bit cool. You’ll need additional comfort and coziness.

What type of bedding will you use during summer or late-season heatwaves? You would avoid down comforters and blankets come hell or high water. Natural fabrics are preferable. They let air circulate, keeping you much cooler than synthetics. In summer, you would opt for breathable fibers, like:

  • cotton;
  • linen;
  • bamboo;
  • eucalyptus.

Smooth, hypoallergenic fabrics are perfect in summer. They wick moisture from your body when you sweat. In terms of utility and usability, cotton is the ultimate winner. High-thread, long-staple cotton sheets are top-quality. They are soft-to-touch and luxurious.

I would compare flannel to linen. Both fabrics are thick, breathable, and moisture-wicking. But linen stands out by rough texture. Natural, 100% cotton flannel is soft and fluffy. Kid’s napkins are commonly flannel. They are super-soft and delicate to sensitive infant’s skin.

Does Fleece Feel Warmer than Flannels in Winter?

In summer, flannel sheets can keep you as cool as cotton. They are highly absorbent, natural. Flannel keeps you cozy and dry. It allows air circulation, letting excess body heat escape. In summer, you might cover up with anything, but flannel sheets. This way, you stay cool.

On the contrary, fleece traps heat. Being a kind of man-made, polyester fabric, it’s elastic and not very breathable. Having excellent insulation properties, fleece sheets keep you warm in winter. They repel moisture without absorbing it. Synthetic material dries right quick. So, it’s perfect for outdoor use.

Modern technologies are amazing. Consisting of recycled PET bottles, fleece fabric is still smooth and soft to touch. If comforts you in winter, giving you warm, comfy feeling. Fleece sheets don’t wear out or shrink easily. They are durable, easy to maintain – nevertheless, material quality, weight, and thickness matter.

What is the best weight for flannel sheets?

Flannel sheets differ in weight, but not dramatically. The optimal weight is between 170 and 190 grams (or 6-6.7 ounces) per square meter. The rule of thumb is the greater the weight the thicker the fabric. Therefore, heavier sheets will be warmer than those with lesser weight. However, that does not mean that lighter sheets are of lower quality. High-end products are durable and strong, regardless of the weight.

What is flannelette sheets?

Flannel sheets pros
  • breathability;
  • natural feel;
  • durability;
  • year-round comfort.
Flannel sheets cons
  • tend to shrink after washing.

Fleece sheets

What is fleece made of?

Fleece is a man-made material. It is made of polyester-derived fiber. Unlike flannel, fleece is a knit material. It is comparatively thick, warm and stretchy. Fleece has similar insulating properties to wool, but it’s softer and more lightweight.

flannel fleece fabric

What does fleece feel like?

Fleece is exceptionally soft and a little fluffy. It has a pleasant plush feel to it, similar to microfiber, but even more remarkable. Fleece feels very nice against the skin. It provides a soothing and warming sensation, which is very much longed for during cold winter nights.

What is the difference between fleece and micro fleece?

Fleece is a general name for all types of fabrics of this kind. The type we most often refer to as fleece is polar fleece. It is the thickest and the warmest of all the fleeces. Microfleece, on the contrary, is the finest and the thinnest one. Micro fleece has excellent moisture wicking properties. It is not as warm as other types of fleece, but still, it is rather cozy and perfect for winter time.

Fleece sheets pros
  • comparatively cheap;
  • shrink- and fade-resistant;
  • excellent insulating properties;
  • dries fast;
  • stretchy and therefore easy to adjust to any mattress thickness.
Fleece sheets cons
  • tend to pill;
  • attract lint and pet fur like a magnet;
  • deform with time.

What kinds of sheets are good for night sweats: flannel or fleece?

Flannel sheets are more breathable than fleece sheets. On the other hand, fleece sheets have an ability to wick moisture away from the body. However, both fleece and flannel sheets are rather warm and usually provide excellent insulation. Ideally, hot sleepers should choose different kinds of sheets, such as cotton percale or bamboo. But if you don’t sweat too much and like the soothing touch of velvety sheets, you can go for flannel ones. They are more breathable and won’t make you drenched with sweat. You should choose sheets with lighter weight, around 170 GSM or even less for a sound night-long sleep. This site!

Those made of fleece are not the best sheets for night sweats. This site!

flannel or fleece sheets better


Both flannel and fleece sheets are great in their own way. The ultimate choice depends on what you are looking for. If you need breathability and care about natural materials, then flannel would be your best choice. On the other hand, if you want sheets that provide excellent insulation and have a limited budget, you should consider fleece sheets. In either case, your satisfaction depends on the quality of materials and manufacturing process. Whichever material you prefer, there are great options available on the market. You just need to look carefully and choose wisely.