Linen vs Cotton Sheets—Which One Is Better for Good Sleep

  • Linen and cotton – fabrics have been known and used in the textile industry for centuries.
  • Both of the fabrics are high-quality, durable and comfortable. However, there are some differences that make each of them more or less loveable.
  • Linen and cotton sheets are both a great choice for a good night’s sleep, however, there are some nuances to consider before deciding 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 fibers of the flax plant are extracted from the plant stem and are twice as strong as cotton fiber. However, linen is less elastic. 

Linen fabric is mostly known for its exceptional durability and sturdiness. It is one of the longest-used fibers in the world. In ancient Egypt, it has been valued as a currency.

Nowadays, linen is still a widely used fabric in the textile industry – linen tablecloths, decorations, towels, heat-resistant gloves, clothes, bedding covers, souvenirs and etc. Have you heard about Belgian linen? It is one of the most popular quality labels in the linen industry.

What is Cotton?

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

This 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 as well as cotton from Pakistan, Syria, Greece, and Turkey.

Cotton is a unique and versatile material, however probably the most popular use of it remains in the manufacture of making clothes, bed linens and blankets. 

Funny Fact: Cotton can absorb up to 27 times more water than its own weight! That’s exactly why the cotton towels have such great quality. 

Benefits of Linen Sheets

As for the benefits of the linen sheets and linen in general, there should definitely be a separate article. Why? Because there are tons of them! 

  • Durability. Linen fabric is resistant to abrasion, therefore, it’s pretty much enough to purchase one fancy linen bedding set in a lifetime. 
  • Endurance. Can you imagine? Linen sheets get even whiter, stronger and softer with every wash. So wash it as much as you want – it will look even better over the years!
  • Temperature isolation. Linen sheets are suitable for both summer and winter. They perfectly adjust to the body and room temperature – they will heat you up when it’s cold, and cool down when it’s hot.
  • Organic. Linen fabric is a completely non-waste product and is 100% eco-friendly. 
  • Absorbs moisture. Linen sheets are also perfect because they absorb the moisture very well. Also, linen dries super fast, therefore you will not have to wait forever to use it again after you wash it.  
  • Health-friendly. Linen sheets are also suitable for people with allergies – linen fibers are resistant to any bacteria!

Benefits of Cotton Sheets

  • Breathability. Cotton sheets are breathable, therefore it prevents your body from sweating during the sleep;
  • Comfort. Cotton sheets are pleasant to touch and are not irritating to the skin. That’s exactly why they are greatly used for baby bedding sets.
  • Temperature isolation. Just as linen sheets, cotton sheets are great both in summer and winter. Thanks to its fibers, cotton sheets can 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, it’s important to take good care of this fabric.


To keep the quality of your cotton sheets, it is recommended to turn the sheets on the wrong side before washing; 

To prevent the cotton fabric from wrinkling, do not wash it more than 600 Rpm; 

To prevent the cotton sheets from shrinking – do not set the washing temperature 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 a  perfect choice to both winter and the summer.
  • 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 the moisture and sweat much better than the cotton sheets. Moreover, it also dries much faster.
  • Linen sheets tend to soften over time and getting brighter instead of losing their form.

Unfavorable Factors

  • Strong but not elastic. Linen fiber is very strong but much less elastic, therefore they tend to wrinkle fast. That’s why you’d rather choose to hand-wash or dry-clean the linen sheets and hang it properly when air-drying.
  • Thicker than cotton. As the linen is thicker and less elastic than the cotton fabric, sheets can often bend over the same place when folded.
  • Shrinkage. Linen bedding, depending on how it was spun and woven, tends to shrink after wash from 4 to 7 percent depending on the material (if it is raw linen, or mixed with other materials).

Pros and Cons of Cotton Sheets

Favorable Factors

  • Breathable and health-friendly cotton sheets provide a feeling of comfort and are as nice to skin as the linen sheets.
  • The cotton sheets are high-quality as they retain color well even after many washes. Also, you can wash them either in the washing machine or dry clean – both ways are safe and will not damage your sheets!
  • Cotton sheets work both in the summer and winter – thanks to the cotton fibers that adapt to the temperature changes easily.
  • 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 actually means higher quality – it is questionable. Why? Because the bigger 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 the 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.

So, you may ask – what to choose? Linen or cotton sheets? Well, that’s the dilemma! 

Hopefully, this comparison of cotton and linen will at least help you to take a picture of what to expect from each fabric. 

All in all, both fabrics are high-quality, durable, health-friendly and comfortable

However, when choosing the cotton sheets, keep in mind that the production of them consumes natural resources considerably. Also, before you purchase the cotton sheets, keep an eye on the label – is it really 100% cotton, or the majority of it is chemicals? 

Also, before you decide, think about taking care of each fabric. As you now know, the linen sheets will require more careful attention. However, once you learn some simple rules – it’s a piece of cake!

All things considered, the choice is yours! If you will purchase the 100% pure cotton or linen sheet set – you will not miss it as both of them are great. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Sure thing! Generally, cotton is one of the most popular fabrics in the textile industry. Cotton is so widely used because it is high-quality, durable and breathable.
If it is 100% cotton sheets - they will definitely not make you feel hot. That's because the cotton fabric is made of breathable natural fibers.
It depends if the linen sheets have been pre-softened by the manufacturer or not. However, if they do not feel soft enough at first when you buy them - do not worry! Linen gets softer and softer after each wash.
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