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Cotton vs Linen: What Is the Best Fabric for Linen Bedding?

Virginia Shelley
3 minute read

Considered the two best materials for bed sheets, choosing between linen and cotton can sometimes feel overwhelming. There is no doubt that the type of fabric your bedding is made of affects its feel, insulation, longevity, and even its drape. Although cotton and linen may be a class apart from the rest in these categories, is there any separating the both of them?

How to differentiate linen vs cotton?

Linen and cotton are two of the most popular choices for summer. But what’s the difference between them? Here’s a quick guide to help you differentiate between linen and cotton.

Cotton Vs Linen

History of Cotton

Cotton pieces have been found in Mexican caves that are estimated to be at least 7,000 years old. Although not the oldest, cotton is almost as old as linen, and has been around human civilization for a long time. It was brought to Europe by Arab merchants about 800 A.D and was spread across the world upon the “discovery” of America in the late 15th century.

History of Linen

Linen is the oldest natural fiber ever used to weave fabric. It is estimated that its first usage was back in the Mediterranean civilization some 30,000 years ago. Since then, it has spread to Europe, where it gained popularity in medieval times and has continued its spread across the globe. Linen lost its popularity in the 18th century as cotton production became much easier and faster with spinning machines. It is now generally considered a luxury fabric, thanks to its high production cost.

Benefits of Cotton

Cotton is a soft natural fiber derived from the plant bearing its name (the cotton plant). It is known for its durability and strength – a result of the complex woven structure used during its construction. It absorbs reasonable amounts of moisture and is known for its great breath ability and insulation qualities. Consistently washing your cotton sheets makes them smoother and better for bed.

Benefits of Linen

Linen is the strongest natural fiber in the world, and is generally considered by Europeans to be the best material to sleep in. This natural fiber is gotten from the flax plant. Amongst its many benefits are its longevity and incredible insulation properties (which enable it to allow air flow in the summer and retain warmth in the winter). Linen is also known for its unique filtering characteristics that reduce the number of allergens found in typical bedding.

What is better, linen or cotton?

When it comes to direct comparison, linen edges out cotton in a number of distinct areas. Linen fabrics are typically 30% stronger than cotton fabrics. Quality fabric may initially be softer than linen, but linen is known to soften over time without losing any of its durable properties. Linen is also a better insulator, reacting to seasons and allowing for better air and moisture circulation. It is also more absorbent, more eco-friendly, and has wonderful hypoallergenic properties lacking in cotton.

Both fabrics have their pros and cons, so it really depends on what you’re looking for in a fabric. If you want something that’s eco-friendly and breathable, go with linen. But if you need something that won’t wrinkle as easily, cotton might be the better choice.

Yes, although linen and cotton may be similar products in both their look and feel, when considering the best fabric for your sheets, stonewashed linen bedding comes out on top. As cotton fades and dies after 3-5 years of use, linen sheets begin to shine and come into their own, sticking around for the next few decades if looked after properly.