Linen vs Cotton Sheets, Differences Explained

● Linen and cotton fabrics have been known and used in the textile industry for centuries.

● Both fabrics are high-quality, durable, and comfortable. But most importantly, they are made from natural fibers making them a great option for sensitive skin.

● Even though both linen and cotton sheets are a perfect choice for a good night’s sleep, there are some key differences worth your attention. Especially if you're struggling to decide which one would work better for you.

What is Linen?

Linen is a tall, straw-like plant with long fibers that make it easy to twist into a thread. Natural linen fibers are extracted from the flax plant stem and are twice as strong as cotton fibers. However, that makes linen less elastic.

Linen fabric is mostly known for its exceptional sturdiness. It is one of the longest-used fibers in the world. In ancient Egypt, it was as valuable as currency. Nowadays, linen is still a widely used fabric in the textile industry – linen sheets, tablecloths, decorations, towels, heat-resistant gloves, clothing, bedding covers, name it!

What is Cotton?

Cotton fiber is derived from the cotton bush. Once the cotton balls are hand-knotted from the cotton plant, they are recycled into the fabric that is favorited for its lightness, softness, and breathability.

Cotton material has been known for almost 7000 years now. Ancient South American nations also used cotton as money. For the record, Egyptian cotton is considered to be the highest quality along with the cotton from Pakistan, Syria, Greece, and Turkey. Cotton is a unique and versatile fabric and is most commonly seen used for clothing, bedding, and blankets.

Fun Fact:​ Cotton can absorb up to 27 times more water than its own weight! That’s one of the reasons why cotton towels are so popular.

Benefits of Linen Sheets

There should be a whole separate article focusing on the benefits of linen sheets and linen in general. Why? Because there are tons of them! Here are some of the main benefits.

● Softness: ​Linen sheets get softer with every wash. So wash it as much as you want – this will only ensure your sheets get softer as years go on.

● Temperature control:​ Linen sheets are suitable for both summer and winter. They adjust to the body and room temperature – they will heat you up when it’s cold, and cool you down when it’s hot.

● Durability: Linen fabric is resistant to abrasion, so you can take comfort in knowing that your linen bedding is most likely going to last for a decade.

● Organic: ​Linen fabric is a completely non-waste product and is 100% eco-friendly.

● Absorbancy: ​Linen sheets absorb moisture extremely well and dry super fast, therefore you won’t have to wait an eternity to use your sheets after each wash.

● Antiallargenic: ​Linen sheets are also suitable for people with allergies. Linen is a natural fiber that is resistant to bacteria!

Benefits of Cotton Sheets

● Breathability​: Cotton sheets are breathable, therefore they prevent your body from sweating during sleep.

● Comfort: Cotton sheets are pleasant to touch and are not irritating to the skin. That’s exactly why they frequently used for baby bedding sets.

● Temperature isolation: ​Thanks to the natural fibers, cotton sheets will also keep you warm when it’s cold, and cool your body down when it’s hot.

● Durability: ​Cotton sheets retain color even after multiple washes. However, appropriate care of this fabric is also important.

Cotton Care Tips: To ensure the quality of your cotton sheets, it is recommended to turn the sheets inside out before washing; To prevent the cotton fabric from wrinkling​, do not wash it more than 600 Rpm; To prevent the cotton sheets from shrinking​ – set the washing temperature no higher than 40 degrees.

Pros and Cons of Linen Sheets

Favorable Factors

● Linen bed sheets provide the best microclimate to the skin: moisture-wicking, breathable, and great for all year use.

● Linen sheets are antibacterial – therefore they are suitable for people with allergies.

● Linen sheets are 5 times more durable than cotton sheets.

● Linen sheets absorb moisture and sweat much better than cotton as well as dry quicker.

● Linen sheets tend to soften over time and get brighter instead of losing its shape and form.

Unfavorable Factors

● Strong but not elastic. ​Linen fiber is very strong but much less elastic, therefore they tend to wrinkle faster. That’s why it is better not to overload your machine when washing linen sheets and flat dry rather than tumble dry.

● Thicker than cotton. ​As linen is thicker and less elastic than the cotton fabric, sheets can often bend over the same place when folded.

● Linen fabric is slightly textured and can feel grainy on the skin however this is very personal and most people tend to prefer this type of texture on their skin.

Pros and Cons of Cotton Sheets

Favorable Factors

● Breathable and health-friendly cotton sheets provide a feeling of comfort and are soft to the touch

● Sheets made out of cotton are high-quality and retain color very well even after many washes. Also, you can wash them either in the washing machine or dry clean – both ways are fine and will not damage your sheets.

● Cotton sheets can be used during the summer and winter months – thanks to the cotton fibers that adapt to the surrounding temperature.

● Cotton is not afraid of high temperatures. Therefore, you can safely iron the cotton sheets at a high temperature. That also applies to the washing and the drying machines!

Unfavorable Factors

● Higher thread count.​ Although most of the marketers say that this factor actually means higher quality – it still remains controversial. Why? Because the bigger is the thread count, the less breathable the sheets are.

● Damage to nature.​ Growing cotton causes lots of damage to the ecosystem. Mostly, because of the enormous amounts of water consumption.

● Chemicals​. Often, when processing cotton, many different chemicals are added up during the process: pesticides, mineral fertilizers, and so on. Unfortunately, most of them remain in the sheets, clothes, and other cotton products we use.

Hopefully, this comparison of cotton and linen will help you better understand what to expect from each fabric. All in all, ​both fabrics are high-quality, durable, health-friendly, and comfortable​. However, when choosing sheets made out of cotton, keep in mind that the production process consumes a lot more natural resources.

A tip before purchasing cotton sheets would be to keep an eye on the label – is it really 100% cotton, or the substance is mixed with various chemicals?

Once you’ve purchased your chosen bedding sheets, pay attention to care instructions as learning them will ensure your bedding sheets keep for many more years to come.

All things considered, the choice is yours and whatever you decide we hope you sleep soundly!

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