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Cotton vs Linen Bedding

Posted on July 26 2021

Cotton vs Linen Bedding

Choosing a bed, mattress and bedding is a big process, and has long-lasting effects on you and your life – after all, your bed is where you rest, let stress fall away from you, and process the happenings of the day while you sleep. A good sleep is essential to the success of this process. When it comes to the sheets part of this decision, it might come down to linen verses cotton… which one is right for you?

What are Linen Bed Sheets?

For a long time – generations in fact – linen sheets were known as the standard type of bedding. In fact, some people still refer to bedding in general as ‘bed linen,’ even when the bedding isn’t made of linen at all! But what is linen? Why should, or shouldn’t, you choose actual linen for your bed?

Linen threads tend to be longer and thicker than cotton, which means they last a long time – longer even than hard-wearing cotton. The resulting sheets feel a bit stiffer than cotton sheets, and they feel smooth to the touch. They have microscopic breaks in the material that are thought to have therapeutic effects, like a micro-massage on the skin while you sleep on them. Linen tends to get softer over time, as they are used and laundered.

Benefits of Linen Sheets

Linen sheets are a popular choice for hotels, Airbnb hosts, and other hospitality ventures, because they are considered anti-allergenic by most healthcare professionals, and they last a long, long time - through multiple washes per week.

Typical bedsheets collect germs on them in the usual ways – that’s just life – but linen sheets are more breathable than most sheets, stay cooler and dryer for that reason, and therefore are thought to reduce the accumulation of bacteria. This can help reduce allergy symptoms.

The material is also resistant to static, and is biodegradable, making them a good eco-friendly choice

Downsides of Linen Sheets

So linen sheets are perfect, right? Well, maybe not perfect. There are a few downsides to consider too.

For one thing, linen sheets don’t start out feeling as smooth as cotton sheets. It can take up to three years of use and washing before they really feel their best.

The thicker, slightly course material can also take some getting used to, for those more accustomed to regular cotton sheets.  For the long term, yes, they are tough to beat for comfort, but right out of the packaging they can take second place for a while.

Finally, they do have a higher thread count, and last a very long time, so they tend to cost more. How much more? It depends on what you’re used to spending, but brace yourself for a ticket price on linen sheets of two or even three hundred pounds (or more) for a set.

What are Cotton Bed Sheets?

Cotton sheets are sheets made from cotton fibres. These fibres are grown on cotton plants, and harvested when the fluffy white tufts appear on the plants. These tufts are gathered, cleaned, processed, and spun into threads for weaving and sewing. The process has been improved and honed for hundreds of years.

The main benefit of this material for use in bedding and clothing is the soft feel, right from new.

Benefits of Cotton Bedding

Cotton sheets are strong and durable. The many threads, woven together, cumulate in a structure that is breathable, but not easy to break (beddable bedding is 400 thread count). Best of all, as they are used and washed, the softness they begin with gets even softer and they get more comfortable over time. Cotton sheets also absorb moisture – up to 25% of their own weight in fact – and that can help keep you warm in the winter, and cool in the summer.

They're also available in a variety of types, percale cotton is used for a cooler crisp finish in the summer, whereas sateen cotton is used for a cozy warm feel in the winter.

Learn more about what is percale cotton here.

Cotton bedding sets are also available in a wide range of colours, including blue, navy, green, grey, white, and burgundy.

Downsides of Cotton Bedding

Cotton sheets don’t last as long as something like linen, but with a lifespan of three to five years, cotton sheets can still be good value for the money. Cotton sheets also absorb moisture, which is good, but they can take a relatively long time to dry because of this.

Final Thoughts

Whether you go with cotton sheets, or linen, is entirely up to you and what is important to you. Are you a hot sleeper or a cold one? Is a low price more important than a longer life of the product? Are you happy to let the sheets gain in comfort over time, knowing that they will take some use to get to that optimal level?

Whichever you decide on, these considerations should help you to ensure that you buy the right sheets for you. Good luck, and have a good sleep!

If you need a new set of bedding, then browse our range here, including new duvet sets, duvet covers, fitted sheets, flat sheets, and pillowcases.