Cotton Sheets vs Linen Sheets: Everything You Need To Know

Cotton Sheets vs Linen Sheets: Everything You Need To Know

On the lookout for new sheets but unsure about which fabric to choose? If you're looking to invest in new bedding and highly prioritise comfort, linen and cotton can be exciting options. But if you're torn about which one to pick and the critical differences between cotton and linen sheets, then this guide is for you. In this extensive guide, we break down each fibre, explore the classic cotton vs linen debate, and ultimately offer advice on the best option based on your sleeping preferences.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is linen better than cotton sheets?

Ultimately, it comes down to your preference. The benefits of linen sheets are that they're more cooling and durable vis-a-vis cotton, and linen is almost three times as strong as the latter. The downside is that linen can wrinkle easily. Cotton sheets, on the other hand, tend to feel softer and could be a more affordable option for price-conscious buyers.

What is a good thread count for cotton sheets?

Ideally, between 200-400 thread count will ensure your cotton sheets feel cool and comfortable to sleep on.

Do linen sheets shed in the dryer?

Putting your linen sheets to dry in the dryer is not good practice. Tumble drying can cause your sheets to shed excessively. It could also cause them to shrink, damaging the fabric and breaking it down faster. To avoid any cleaning mishaps, always refer to the instructions on the product care label. This will help improve your linen sheets' longevity.

Is it better to sleep on linen or cotton?

In the cotton vs linen sheets debate, linen tends to shine for its moisture-wicking properties. Despite absorbing almost 20% of its weight in moisture, the fabric doesn't feel damp. The airflow through the weaves is another reason it's easy to stay cool and dry. This makes it easy for a hot sleeper to sleep on linen without getting too warm. The fabric's characteristics make it ideal for helping you feel warm in winter and cool in summer. Perfect as summer bedding sheets.

Cotton, particularly percale, offers that luxurious crisp sheet feeling. In contrast, sateen can feel buttery soft and is less likely to wrinkle. 100% cotton sheets feel breathable, helping the heat out and staying cool to the touch.

Why are linen sheets so expensive?

The higher price tag is a result of the production process involved. Linen is derived from the flax plant and undergoes an intensive and complicated thread-weaving process compared to cotton. Moreover, since the cotton plant grows so abundantly globally, the product is more accessible and less expensive.

Is cotton cooler than linen?

When it comes to linen vs cotton sheets and the cooler option of the two, linen surfaces as a clear winner. While cotton and linen are breathable fabrics, linen may have a slight edge when it comes to keeping you cooler in warmer temperatures. Overall whether cotton or linen, they're both excellent choices. If breathability is your biggest priority, linen makes for a better option. If soft sheets matter, make cotton your go-to.

What is linen shedding?

Linen shedding looks like balls or bits of lint and fluff gathering on your brand-new sheets after taking them out of the washer and drying them. It's nothing to panic about and is part of the linen life cycle, implying that your fabric is getting softer with every wash and shedding excess fibres. Shedding usually ends after a few washes.

What is linen?

linen sheets

Wondering are linen sheets good? Linen is a natural fibre used in producing high-quality linen sheets crafted from the stalks of the flax plant. With a smooth and comfortable feel, they're one of the top sheet choices for beds worldwide.

Benefits of linen sheets

With threads longer and thicker than cotton, linen can easily outlive the latter and offers higher longevity. And even as the fabric softens with multiple washes, sheets retain their durability and quality. They're hypoallergenic, quickly filtering and reducing the number of allergens found in bed sheets. But is linen breathable? Airflow is also greatly improved thanks to the thread weaves, allowing you to remain cool and dry in warmer weather. Those with sensitive skin benefit from maintaining their natural pH levels. One of the essential benefits of linen sheets is that they're more environmentally friendly and biodegradable.

Drawbacks of linen sheets

If you're looking for soft sheets, linen sheets are probably not the way to go. It'll take multiple washes over time to make these sheets as soft as cotton. Since sheets tend to feel thick and coarse at the beginning, this could put many off from buying them. Moreover, a higher thread count linen sheet will be dearer and run your budget up extensively. Linen also tends to wrinkle easily, giving off a crumpled appearance.

What are cotton sheets?

cotton sheets

Cotton sheets are crafted from the fluff that grows on cotton plants. Multiple fibres are woven into yarn, making cotton sheets strong.

Benefits of cotton sheets

In the cotton vs linen debate, cotton trumps offering users a smooth and crisp finish. Boasting strength and durability, cotton sheets are also breathable and provide a cool sleeping surface. With regular washes, bed sheets start feeling even softer and smoother. Cotton works well throughout the year, offering weight and warmth during winter but a cool, airy experience as summer bedding sheets. The fabric wicks moisture, leaving you feeling dry.

Drawbacks of cotton sheets

Cotton has a shorter lifespan - lower than washed linen sheets. And because sheets feel soft to the touch, threads tend to break down easier. Cotton doesn't wick moisture as well as linen and could take longer to dry.

Linen vs Cotton Sheets - How they compare

Now that we've discussed the pros and cons of each fibre individually, let's recap them in the table below.





Needs replacing in 2 - 4 years

Lasts for 3-5 years before you start noticing signs of wear. With proper care, however, your linen sheets could last you decades.


Is linen cooler than cotton? Yes. Very cooling - Ideal for a comfortable sleep in warmer weather

Moderately cool - sheets tend to warm with the body.

Comfort & Feel

Feels rough and thick at first but softens over time and with multiple washes. Is also highly susceptible to wrinkling.

Soft sheets that feel comfortable to lie on from day 1.

Care & Maintenance

Wash in cold water, and avoid tumble drying.

Ideal for washing in cold water to improve longevity. Easy to wash and dry based on your preference.

How to tell the difference between cotton and linen sheets

Have you ever mistaken cotton for linen or vice versa? Maybe you've wondered is cotton and linen the same. An easy way to tell the difference between cotton and linen is through this simple test. Dip your finger in clean water and press it on the fabric. If the material stains easily and absorbs the water all the way, then it's linen. Another easy way to tell is simply by linen's thick and coarser texture from fibres that are longer than cotton. The latter tends to feel smooth and more uniform.

How to buy sheets for your bed?

Wondering if you should get cotton or linen sheets? Understanding which sheet best suits your bed comes down to your preferences. We've outlined the why below so you can decide which one to pick.

Linen sheets are great if…

  • You're a hot sleeper looking to stay cool and dry during the warmer seasons. Linen has an ultra-cooling effect and makes for a great choice.
  • You prioritise durability and longevity and want your sheets to last at least 4-5 years. One of the most significant benefits of linen sheets is their durability.
  • You want to make ethical and sustainable choices for your home. Linen sheets are also biodegradable, making them great for those looking to go green.

Cotton sheets are great if…

  • You love that smooth, soft, silky finish straight out of the package. Unlike linen, you don't have to do anything to soften up these fabrics.
  • You're on a budget and prefer cotton's convenience and affordable pricing.
  • You like prints, patterns and colours in your bed sheets - a feature available with most cotton sheets.

How to care for linen sheets

As with any other bedding, make it a point to clean your sheets weekly in cold water and with a mild detergent. Washed linen sheets should be line dried. Remember to avoid fabric softeners that contain silicone. This can coat the fibres and reduce their ability to absorb moisture. A good rule of thumb is to store these summer bedding sheets in dry and well-ventilated storage spaces. If you're stowing them away for longer, remember to wrap them in muslin cloth.

How to care for cotton sheets

Cotton tends to shrink, so washing in warm-cool water is crucial to minimise shrinkage. As a material that is the easiest to look after and maintain, cotton sheets can be tossed into a washing machine. Once washed, line drying is always a good idea. Alternatively, tumble dry on a low or medium heat setting to reduce wrinkles.

Linen vs cotton sheets - choosing the right one for your home

Whether you're looking to invest in a flat or fitted sheet or both - cotton or linen sheets make for equally great choices, offering a combination of comfort and longevity. Choosing the right one ultimately depends on what you need and how you sleep. In addition to bed sheets, picking the correct type of bed linen is also key to a comfortable night's sleep. Choose well, whether that's a quilt, mattress, pillows or blankets. For more inspiration around bed linen and all things bedroom, refer to our Home Hub.