Eachnight may earn commissions for products you purchase through our links. Our articles and reviews include affiliate links and advertisements, including amerisleep advertising. Learn more Updated September 4, 2021Over the last decade, organic products have become popular with eco-conscious individuals. They have even made their way into bedroom items, like mattresses and cotton sheets. Organic products are a little more expensive to buy. This causes many shoppers to wonder what makes them different from non-organic items.In this article, we’ll look at the differences between organic cotton and regular cotton. Later, we’ll discuss the benefits of purchasing items with organic cotton.What is Organic Cotton?Organic cotton production has a low impact on the environment. The method used to manufacture organic cotton reduces the use of toxic chemicals. Chemicals such as pesticides can damage natural water sources and destroy ecosystems.Organic production systems help create a more sustainable environment. All cotton products labeled as organic must meet federal restrictions throughout manufacturing. These regulations prohibit chemicals such as:FertilizersPesticidesInsecticidesOrganic Certifications for CottonGlobal Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and OEKO-TEX® certification are certifications for organic cotton. GOTS is the worldwide leading textile standard. Products with the GOTS organic certification contain at least 95 percent organic fibers. A product can still be certified by GOTS if it contains at least 70 percent organic fibers. However, this product won’t be considered organic.Unlike other standards, the GOTS certification oversees the entire textile chain. GOTS ensures the supply chain is free of harmful substances.The OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 oversees the textiles in a product but not the entire supply chain. For this reason, an OEKO-TEX® certification does not mean your product is organic. But, it does mean your item is chemical-free. It’s best to look for both of these certifications when looking for products with organic cotton.Differences Between Organic and Regular CottonThere are several differences between organic and regular cotton. The most significant difference is in the production process.In this next section, we’ll look at techniques farmers use to produce both types of cotton. That includes:How the cotton is wateredWhether the cotton is grown with fertilizers and pesticidesProductionCotton is either grown in dryland or irrigated. Dryland cotton relies on rainfall, while irrigated cotton uses underground water sources. According to the Water Footprint Network, about 53% of the world’s cotton is irrigated.About 70% to 80% of organic cotton is rain-fed. Extensive irrigation depletes groundwater and causes salt to build up in freshwater sources. Since most organic cotton is rain-fed, it uses less water from natural ecosystems. Conventional cotton uses about 1,320 gallons for 1 pound of cotton.Farming & WeddingConventional cotton uses more than 25 percent of the pesticides used in farming. Pesticides are chemicals used to kill pests, bugs, or weeds. Exposure to pesticides may lead to illnesses and health issues. Some potential conditions include:CancerReproductivity issuesParkinson’s diseaseAlzheimer’s diseaseNon-organic cotton also has a higher yield than organic cotton crops. A single conventional cotton plant produces more cotton fibers than one organic plant. This is because regular cotton uses GMOs.Organic farmers handpick cotton without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Additionally, organic farmers do not use GMO or modified seeds. Plus, handpicking allows for better protection of the cotton fibers.Furthermore, organic cotton farming reduces carbon emissions. Organic farmers use crop rotation techniques that keep carbon from entering the atmosphere.Benefits of Organic Cotton BeddingOrganic cotton is a safer option for sleepers than regular cotton. Conventional cotton items contain harsh chemicals like:Petroleum-based productsChlorineAmmoniaFormaldehydeVarious skin allergies, such as rashes and hives, relate to the chemicals used in non-organic cotton farming. Organic cotton is hypoallergenic. Not to mention, the fibers are longer and more durable than conventional cotton.Farmers are also safer working on organic cotton production. GOTS oversees the entire supply chain during manufacturing. This ensures the protection of farmers and all workers involved in production.Benefits of Regular Cotton BeddingConventional cotton is an affordable choice for shoppers on a budget. Regular cotton bedding is also known for its ability to wick moisture away from the body. A set of cooling sheets woven with cotton keep sleepers from overheating at night or feeling sweaty.Regular cotton sheets are durable and are easy for individuals to maintain. You can place cotton bed linen in a washing machine without worrying about damage.SEE ALSO: Best Sheets: Reviews and Buyer’s GuideCaring for Cotton SheetsWhether your cotton sheets are organic or non-organic, you should be able to wash them in a machine washer. We recommend a cold wash with gentle detergent on a delicate cycle. For best results, wash the sheets separately from other clothes and bedding. Separate loads reduce the chances of pilling.Try not to use bleach or bleach alternative as it can discolor the cotton. If you want to make an older set of sheets white again, there are ways to do so without using bleach.Air-drying the sheets can help you avoid wrinkles and shrinkage. If you use a machine dryer, make sure to use the tumble dry setting. High heat settings can damage and shrink the cotton fabric.SEE ALSO: The Meaning Behind All Laundry Care SymbolsAlternatives to Cotton BeddingOf course, cotton isn’t the only bedding material on the market. One material frequently compared to cotton is Tencel fabric. Like cotton, Tencel fabric is a breathable material. People seeking cooling bedding made with natural materials can consider cotton or Tencel sheets.Another common material in bedsheets is microfiber, which is a synthetic fabric with a silk-like feel. Microfiber is breathable and soft, yet woven in a way that resists pilling. For an in-depth comparison of microfiber and cotton, see our cotton vs microfiber guide.Viscose fabric is another breathable material that can be used in bedsheets. Viscose is a semi-synthetic rayon fabric with a durable weave, but you won’t be able to wash it the way you would a set of cotton sheets.FAQSIs organic cotton good for the environment?Organic cotton is an excellent choice for eco-conscious shoppers. These products are grown from natural seeds and are not treated with pesticides. Organic farming avoids the use of chemicals while also striving for environmental sustainability.Is organic cotton bleached?Conventional cotton production of bleach. You may even notice your traditional cotton bedding is a crisp, clean white. Organic cotton is bleach-free.An excellent way to tell if your cotton products are organic is if your item has an off-white coloring. Organic cotton uses safer alternatives to chemical dyes and whiteners. Some products include natural or water-based dyes, peroxide for whitening.Why is organic cotton more expensive?Organic cotton is more expensive to produce than regular cotton. Organic farmers do not use harmful chemicals, pesticides, or machines during manufacturing. These processes can make the manufacturing process more expensive.Organic plants also produce less yield (pounds per acre) than non-organic cotton. Since there is less organic cotton, this also drives up the price.How will I know my cotton sheets are organic?The best way to know if your cotton sheets are organic is by checking the certification label. Sheets with the GOTS certifications must meet guidelines to receive an organic label.Products with an Oeko-Tex certification must be chemical-free as well. It’s best to look for sheets with both the GOTS and Oeko-Tex certifications.Is organic cotton softer than regular cotton?Organic cotton is usually softer than organic cotton because it has longer fibers. Handpicking cotton prevents fibers from breaking or fraying. As a result, products are plush and more durable than conventional cotton.ConclusionRegular cotton is a more affordable option, but it can have a harsh impact on the environment. When you buy organic cotton, you are making a better choice for the environment.Organic cotton is grown without any chemical insecticides, making it safer for sleepers. Plus, organic cotton is plush and has natural moisture-wicking abilities. This way, you can stay cozy without worrying about overheating.About the author Malik Karman“Professional sleeper” Malik Karman is a freelance writer for the eachnight blog. Over the years, Malik has read countless medical studies and explored hundreds of different bedding products in an effort to better understand what goes into a restorative night’s rest. Malik curates many of our “best mattress” guides to assist readers in the mattress buying process. Find more articles by Malik Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. 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