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TENCEL® vs. cotton

‘TENCEL®’ – or ‘lyocell’, as it is also widely known – is the word on everybody’s lips. But what makes the material so special, and what are the differences between TENCEL® and cotton? We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the latest trend material.


8 November 2021 • 7 min reading time

TENCEL® vs cotton


TENCEL® is a Lenzing AG brand name for lyocell fibre. TENCEL® is a fibre of natural origin that is industrially manufactured. The original raw material is wood (usually eucalyptus). The fibre itself is produced in a closed loop, making it particularly environmentally friendly. The wood is sourced from sustainable forestry or plantations and therefore does not compete with food cultivation.


Cotton is one of the oldest and most important plants in the history of human cultivation. It is also the most important resource in the textile industry; almost a third of all textile fibres are made from cotton. Cotton is farmed on cotton plantations.

The difference between cotton and TENCEL®

The differences between the two fibres can be grouped into the following categories:

Sustainability of production

TENCEL® fibres are derived from sustainable forestry or plantations, while cotton is produced using monocultural farming and competes with food cultivation. The spaces where wood is grown, by contrast, are rarely suitable for food cultivation. Unlike cotton, wood is easy to cultivate, grows quickly and requires no artificial irrigation or pesticides – meaning that cultivating TENCEL® fibres requires around 20 times less water than cotton. The acreage required for lyocell is also around four times smaller than for cotton.

Moisture management

One of TENCEL®’s stand-out properties is its breathability. Moisture is naturally wicked away from the body, and evaporates just as quickly in the ambient air. TENCEL®’s smooth surface not only absorbs moisture more efficiently but can also absorb around 50% more than cotton. This supports the body’s natural temperature regulation and keeps your skin feeling comfortably cool and dry, day and night.


TENCEL® is considerably softer and sleeker than pure cotton. Lyocell fibres are naturally very soft and sleek. The smooth, almost silk-like surface offers unparalleled comfort, especially for sensitive skin.

High-quality cotton is also characterised by a refined, smooth appearance and a supple feel. Supima® cotton in particular is even softer than standard cotton.


Products made of lyocell can naturally reduce bacterial growth, without any chemicals: moisture is wicked away so quickly that it can prevent bacteria from developing in the first place. No layer of moisture develops on the fibres, so there is no breeding ground for bacteria. Cotton is also highly breathable and does not irritate the skin, so when it comes to hygiene, it is on a par with TENCEL®. This is not the case for synthetic fibres, which can harbour up to 2,000 times as many bacteria as lyocell!


Although TENCEL® is a lightweight fabric, it hardly creases at all, making it relatively easy to care for and meaning it does not necessarily need to be ironed. Cotton is also very durable and robust, however; its sturdy structure and heat resistance mean high-quality cotton products like bedsheets can last for up to 50 years.

Discover cotton products here

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