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Types of Pillow Cases (Fabrics & Closure Options)

Here are the most popular types of pillow cases including the different types of fabric, closures, how to wash, and the best pillow case options for your hair and skin.
Pillows with patterned cases on bed with light blue satin blanketWith a vague ‘new pillowcase’ on the shopping list one can get mighty confused on what you may really want. There are a plethora of types of pillowcases that you can get as well as fabrics that can be used on said pillowcases. 

Not only that, but there are also a few different ways you can secure the pillow into the pillowcase. This variety of different options means that there may need to be some additional research done before you head to the store to pick out your new pillowcases. 

Luckily you are in the right place – below are descriptions of some of the most popular types and fabrics as well as a breakdown of which is better for certain situations.

Standard (Housewife) Pillowcase

Housewife standard style pillowcasesThe standard pillowcase that we are used to is also known as the housewife pillowcase. This type of pillowcase has an opening on one of the ends of the pillowcase with a flap inside to cover up the opening, leaving none of the pillow exposed.

The housewife pillowcase is what typically comes with bedding sets and are the standard for sleeping pillows. They come in sizes from King, queen, full and twin size pillows. See our guide to pillow dimensions here.

Oxford Pillowcase

Bed with oxford style pillowcasesAn Oxford pillowcase is another common type of pillowcase. This pillowcase is identified by the thick border along the entire sides. These are similar to the sham pillows discussed later. These pillowcases are a little more decorative than others.

There are usually a few oxford pillowcases and a few standard pillowcases in a set as they are easily used in conjuncture to create a full set. The oxford pillowcase is available in a variety of sizes including king, queen, full and twin sizes.

Oxford pillowcase vs standard: The difference between and oxford pillowcase and a standard pillowcase is typically the use. As mentioned an oxford pillowcase is commonly used for more decorative purposes.

Oxford pillowcases are a little more difficult to change out on a regular basis. A standard pillowcase is the best option when you are looking for a pillowcase to be used on a daily basis for sleeping. An oxford pillowcase can be used for sleeping pillows or throw pillows. 

Pillow Sham

Bed with pillow sham decorative covers A pillow sham is used to turn a standard pillow into a decorative pillow. The pillow sham has an envelope enclosure or a fastened edge that helps keep the pillow enclosed. There could also be a flange or a cord around the edge of the pillow inside.

The pillow sham can be used on regular pillows or pillows that are meant to be decorative by design. These types of pillowcases can also have different sorts of decorative features such as fringe, lace or other embellishments.

Pillow sham pillowcases also typically have a more intricate design on the fabric to create a more vibrant appearance. 

Throw Pillowcase

Luxury set of blue and gray pillows on bed with mirror behind headboardThrow pillows are mainly decorative which means their pillowcases are more eccentric and detailed. The objective of these pillowcases is less on the durability and temperature regulation and more on the style and overall appearance.

These pillowcases typically need to be cleaned a little less as they do not get the nightly sweat and oil, but they need to be cleaned on occasion so they tend to have some clean ability. These types of pillows can contain different kinds of embellishments for aesthetic.

Square Pillowcase (Euro Sham Style)

Often used for decorative purposes a square (Euro sham) pillowcase is similar to the Oxford style. It has wide stitched flat hem that creates a border around the edges.

These are often used as a throw pillow but have distinct edging that creates a flap or border rather than being completely smooth.

Pillow Case Fabrics

Classic bedroom style with set of pillows in grey and blue pillow casesPillowcases come in a wide variety of fabrics. Typically you can get every type of pillowcase that is mentioned above in any of the fabrics listed below. This gives a great deal of options when deciding which pillowcase is best for you.

Fabrics can change the comfort levels, the durability of the fabric and even the ease of upkeep. These fabrics can also vary in color, texture and size. The choice of fabric can affect the quality of sleep more than the type of pillowcase. Some of the most popular fabrics you can select from are as follows. 

Cotton

Bed with cotton pillowcasesCotton pillowcases are one of the most commonly found pillowcase fabrics. Cotton is a natural fabric that is both soft and long lasting.

The material has a bit of breathability to it that can keep the temperature good during all seasons. This is one of the biggest reasons cotton is used so much in bedding and pillowcases. 

Cotton pillowcases are easily found in any size or color desired. Cotton can be absorbent which can be good in some cases and bad in others. Being aware of its absorbency can make sure you let your hair dry before heading to sleep.

Cotton is a reasonably priced fabric when it comes to using it for pillowcases. It is a great happy medium when it comes to cost and quality. 

Polyester

Stretch ultra soft polyester pillow casesSee this polyester pillowcase at Amazon [sponsored link]

Polyester is another fabric than can be used for pillowcases, one that is a little more economical than the above mentioned cotton option. Polyester is a synthetic material and is made to mimic cotton. 

Unfortunately polyester does not have much temperature regulation which could lead to overheating. Polyester is wrinkle resistant and can be found in any of the standard types and sizes. Polyester is one of the least expensive types of fabric you can use on a pillowcase. 

Flannel

Bed with flannel pillowcases and sheets Flannel pillowcases are meant to be the softest and coziest of the fabrics that can be used to make pillowcases. These are often brought out in the wintertime to help keep people warm when the weather doesn’t. 

Flannel fabric can cause frizz as well as tangle hair if long and not tied up. If buying flannel pillowcases it is important to buy high quality flannel otherwise it could pill up or become damaged quicker than other types of fabrics.

While flannel is a great seasonal fabric it is often just that, it is not something that someone typically uses as an everyday pillowcase, these can get extremely warm and cause excess sweating if not used in the right temperatures.

Silk 

Bed with silk pillowcasesSilk pillowcases are made from a natural material that can be on the pricey side. Silk pillowcases are said to be a phenomenal surface for your face, reducing frizz, wrinkles and fine lines. Silk is also a typically cool fabric making it more comfortable to sleep on.

Silk is the most ideal fabric for the pillowcase. This is one of the most expensive materials that can be used in for pillowcases. They are also one of the highest qualities of pillowcases you can get.

This is one of the biggest allures of silk fabric. Read more related article like our guide to the pros and cons of silk sheets here. 

Satin

Bed with satin pillowcases Satin pillowcases are a type of polyester that is made to mimic silk instead of cotton. This type of fabric gives the smooth and cool features without the frizzy hair or the high costs of other pillowcase fabrics. It is sometimes said that satin pillowcases can help with wrinkles on fine lines on skin.

This type of fabric is typically second on the list of greatest types of pillowcases, but when you are not looking to spend an arm and a leg it can be a great second. They have the same features as silk with a little lower of a quality.

This can be a sacrifice to make if budget is an important factor. As a synthetic material though, it is not as sustainable as silk or cotton.

Linen

Linen pillowcases are a high quality natural fabric similar to cotton. Many pillowcases listed as linen are actually made from the flax plant. Linen is a strong material that is antibacterial, great for regulating body temperatures and easy to clean.

It’s an excellent choice for your hair as the fabric is anti-static and won’t cause the frizz associated with many other types. It has the ability to absorb moisture which makes it a good choice to use during the summertime.

Best Fabric For Pillowcases

Bright bedroom with bench and pillows with silk pillow cases on bedThe overall best fabric to be used on a pillowcase is silk. This can be for both a pillow used to be slept on or a decorative pillow. Silk pillowcases are the best for your skin as well as temperature control.

This is shown by the escalated price compared to its competing fabrics. The silk pillowcases are luxurious and the price point shows exactly that.

When considering price as the primary factor you can switch to the synthetic version of silk which is satin. Satin is a good second with most of the same qualities with a little less price and a few different features. 

Types Of Pillowcase Closures

A bed with green pillows, black headboard, and lamp on the sideNow that you have seen the different types of pillowcases that you can get, and the types of fabrics that can be used on said pillowcases, now all you need to figure out is how to keep the pillowcase closed! This can be done with a few different types of accessories. The fasteners of the pillowcase can make or break the usefulness of the overall pillowcase.

You can not use the pillowcase if it keeps falling off now can you? Some options are better than others, but some are also easier to put on. You will want to consider how many times you will need to use the opening when deciding how secure you want to make the closure.

If you make the closures too tight you can make it difficult to remove the pillow for cleaning or aesthetic purposes. The most common types of pillowcase closures are as follows.

Back Closure Pillowcase

White and pastel orange design pillow in cozy bedroom with a golden lamp on the sideA back closure pillowcase is typically used in a decorative setting since it is easily hidden on the backside of the pillow. This can be used as a sleeping pillow as well as it keeps the pillow enclosed and can be made of any fabric. This back enclosure pillowcase can be made with a standard design or in a sham style. 

Envelope Closure Pillowcase

Queen size bamboo pillow cases with envelope closureSee this envelope closure pillowcase at Amazon [sponsored link]

An envelope closure pillowcase is unique in how it encloses the pillow. The entire objective is to avoid the pillow itself from being exposed.

The envelope closure pillowcase mimics that of an envelope tucking the pillow in and giving a finished and clean appearance. The end of the pillowcase has an extra flap that tucks into and over the pillow inside of the pillowcase.

Zipper

A zipper is one of the most common types of fasteners used when it comes to closing things. A pillowcase opening is no different; a zipper is a perfect fit. The zipper can be sewn in to the opening. The downside of this can be that the opening is shrunk a little making it difficult to get the pillow in and out of the opening.

The risk of breaking the zipper can be higher if there is a smaller opening, but they can be fixed or replaced as needed.  Zippers can be uncomfortable if they are not properly tucked in. That being said they are typically the favored type of fastener.

Velcro

The tried and true fastener we have been using since childhood: Velcro. Velcro can be used for closing up pillowcases by placing each piece of velcro on the opening by either gluing or sewing the Velcro in. This makes for an easy to open pocket to remove or replace a pillow whenever needed. This also gives a seamless look to the pillow from the outside if done correctly.

This can be handy for both pillowcases meant for sleeping and pillowcases meant for decoration. In most cases Velcro can be washed and doesn’t wear out, but if something get stuck in it the Velcro can be easily replaced. Velcro is one of the better types of fasteners when it comes to pillowcases.

Buttons

Another option to securing a pillow inside of a pillowcase is by using a set of buttons and buttonholes. This method works, but can be less effective than zippers or Velcro as there is typically space in between the button that flailing arms or fingers could get stuck in. These could also get unbuttoned if not careful.

Overall buttons can work well, especially on a throw pillow. Buttons are just sewn in and can be easily replaced if one falls out. The size and quantity of buttons can make change the effectiveness of the buttons as a fastener. I wouldn’t recommend them for a pillowcase unless they are the only option. 

Pins

While not the best option, when in a pickle safety pins can be a quick and easy way to close the opening of a pillow and keep it from escaping during a fitful night of sleep.

Safety pins are the best kinds of pins to use since if you absolutely have to as they can secure the opening without poking or scratching the user in the face or catching other fabrics (if used correctly).

Safety pins are typically only a temporary fix to a pillow falling out of the pillowcase, considering one of the other options would be more comfortable. Not only are the other fasteners more comfortable, they typically do a better job as well.

Do be aware that safety pins can leave holes in the material. They also have the potential to break or open and cause a painful poke.

Best Types Of Pillowcase

Comfortable throw cushion on the white pillow and bed sheet in the bedroomOverall the best type of pillowcase for sleeping is an envelope closure housewife pillow. When sleeping you will not want the extra fabric of any of the decorative style pillowcases mentioned. It is important to keep an enclosure on the pillowcase so it does not slip out throughout the night.

These types of pillowcases can be secured with a fastener as well to make the pillow as secure as possible. This will make for the most ideal pillowcase. 

Best Types Of Pillowcase For Skin

The best type of pillowcase for the skin is going to be a silk fabric pillowcase. These are typically the best at reducing wrinkles to the face as well as fine lines.

Satin fabric is second in line when it comes to being good for the skin. These are often used in conjuncture with a weekly cleaning schedule and facial cleaning, but in the long run it is the best of the skin.

Best Types Of Pillowcase For Curly Hair

Black satin pillow cases with envelope closureSee this satin pillowcase at Amazon [sponsored link]

When looking to preserve the beautiful curls you have worked so hard to get – or that come effortlessly to you, the best type of pillowcase to use is silk or stain. Satin pillowcases are just a synthetic material meant to mimic silk. Overall satin will always be second best to silk.

Silk fabric pillowcases are great for keeping styles curls fresh, reduce frizziness and limit any morning maintenance. Silk pillowcases are better at not retaining moisture compared to the cotton competition.

This is handy when you go to sleep with wet hair to let the curls set. This is the best selection for any type of hair, not just curly. Silk pillowcases can help avoid unnecessary tangling and breakage when it comes to all hair types.

How Often To Wash Pillowcases

Prepared fresh bed with pillows in a standard pillowcase in a bedroomWashing pillowcases often is important for cleanliness and durability. Typically you should wash your pillowcases once every two weeks. This removes any of the sweat, dirt and other types of dead skin and oil that could end up on the pillowcase.

This is the point of having a pillowcase in general – so that you can wash the pillowcase instead of stuffing all the pillows in the washer every other week.  While a wash every two weeks is the average recommendation there could be situations where they should be washed every week.

In cases of skin sensitivity or acne prone teens upping the cleaning to once a week will be worth it. Washing blankets and the rest of the bedsheets at this frequency is going to help keep the overall bed fresh and clean as well.

Visit our guide to different types of bed sheets for more related content.

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