Linen vs. Cotton Sheets: How to Choose
In the market for some new summer bedding? There are so many fabrics to choose from, so we've made this guide to break down the differences between two of the most popular natural materials: linen and cotton. Cotton and linen share many things in common, but they are also very different. Each type of fabric has a distinct look, feel, and care instructions. Find out which sheet set is suitable for your body, budget, and style.
What are linen sheets?
Linen is made from the flax plant. This plant consists of the outer woody section, the flax seeds, and the fiber. The long fibers are spun to create a yarn used for bedding. We then use these fibers to make linen duvet covers, sheets, pillowcases, etc.
Types of linen
There are many different types of linen to choose from that all have unique properties. Here we've made a list of the most common types you are likely to see while shopping:
These luxury sheets have a durable nature and are very strong. They are made from 100% flax linen. Enzyme washing is a technique during the production process of this type that makes the linen softer.
The Irish are famous for making linen as the climate is perfect for growing the flax plant. This versatile fabric makes very soft sheets. The weave of these linen sheets allows them to be breathable and comfortable making them the perfect bedding for hot sleepers.
Blends combine natural linen fibers with other fabrics. Linen is usually mixed with cotton to help prevent wrinkles and reduce the price.
Linen thread counts
Typically, linen bedding fabric has a thread count between 80 and 150. The threads created from flax are very thick thus lowering the thread count. Because of the lower thread count, it can appear that these types of bed sheets are of lower quality than cotton fabric but, in fact, they are the most durable sheets on the market.
Washing linen sheets
Both linen and cotton sheets are natural fibers and require care when washing. Linen fabric has weaker fibers than cotton, so use a mild detergent in cold water when washing. To dry, turn your dryer on low heat and gently tumble dry or air dry so that they don't form wrinkles from their own weight. These sheets don't need fabric softeners and will become more smooth after multiple washes.
Pros of linen sheets
Finding good quality linen sheets is ideal because they can last for up to 30 years if you take proper care of them. The flax fibers used to make these sheets are naturally strong and are even stronger when wet. This makes linen softer with each wash.
If you are a hot sleeper, get yourself a set of these sheets today. Linen sheets absorb moisture into the fabric without being weighed down like other sheets. When you compare linen to cotton you will see that this natural material doesn't trap sweat on hot nights.
If you have allergies, linen bedding will be a game-changer because they are naturally hypoallergenic. They are very smooth on the skin and prevent the spread of fungi or bacteria that can naturally enter your bedroom. Linen vs cotton bedding offer exceptional durability and hypoallergenic properties.
When it comes to moisture-wicking when comparing linen vs cotton sheets, linen wins every time. This natural fabric doesn't cling to the body like percale or long-staple cotton does. This material offers pure comfort during the summer when you use linen sheets and clothing because of these properties.
Linen is so high-quality that your sheet set will last for decades. Plus, when it comes time to throw them out, they are biodegradable.
Cons of linen bedding
Sheets made from natural linen fibers wrinkle more than cotton because the strands to weave the fabric are thicker. The complex woven structure of linen vs cotton make linen sheets have exceptional durability but this bedding tends to wrinkle. You can iron the wrinkles or pop your sheets in the dryer to loosen them.
Stiff at the start
When we are talking about softness, linen and cotton fabrics differ greatly. A linen duvet cover or sheet set isn't known for being super soft. New linen sheets are a bit rough when you first use them, but they get softer with each wash.
Linen sheets can be more expensive than cotton, but they last much longer, so they end up costing you less in the long run. Linen fabric is known in the textile industry as a natural fiber that the highest quality luxury sheets are made from.
What are cotton sheets?
Cotton is the most common fabric for sheets out there. They are made from fibers from the cotton plant and are usually soft, durable, and easy to care for. Let's look at the different types of cotton sheets because they are not created equal.
Regular cotton plant
Regular cotton material is the most common cotton grown in the world. You can find bedding, clothing, and other household fabrics made with this material.
Organic cotton is made of natural fibers without the use of harsh chemical pesticides. This is an excellent choice if you want to protect your health and the environment.
Egyptian Cotton is another natural fiber that makes very silky sheets that are tightly woven. They are also known for their durability and longevity compared to other types of sheets.
Pima cotton sheets feel luxurious when you first purchase them because they have a luster or sheen to them due to being combed by hand.
Cotton thread counts
Cotton sheets have a much higher thread count than linen sheets, but the yarn used to make the cotton fabric is much thinner. Percale cotton bedding has a thread count of about 200.
Cotton weave types
Percale sheets are made up of vertical and horizontal thread loops, which creates a slightly rougher feel than sateen bed sheets.
On the other hand, a sateen sheet set has a more subtle sheen and is woven with more threads per square inch during the production process, giving them a silky smooth feel.
How to care for cotton sheets
Cotton sheets are so popular because they are easy to care for. Wash them in the washing machine with cool water. They will be a little stiff at first but after a few washes, they will be smooth. Line dry or tumble dry on low or medium heat.
Pros of cotton sheets
Cotton sheets are smooth and breathable because the weave allows air to flow through them. These sheets are lovely for all-year-round comfort.
Cotton sheets are hypoallergenic, making them ideal for those with sensitive skin. These sheets don't irritate the skin, so you'll be able to get a good night's sleep.
Cotton is durable and holds up to the test of time. Cotton is excellent for absorbing fabric dyes and will maintain its color.
Sheets made from cotton fabrics are good to use all year round. Just change the duvet or blanket on top depending on the season, and you'll sleep comfortably.
Cons of cotton sheets
Don't wick moisture
Cotton absorbs moisture. It doesn't wick it away as linen sheets do. If you sweat a lot at night, you might have damp sheets in the morning.
Cotton sheets wrinkle quite easily but not as much as linen. If having a crisp look is essential to you, then choose cotton sheets.
Our recommendations for your next sheet set:
At Mellanni, we have several options for high-quality bedding options:
Organic Cotton Bed Sheet Set
With natural moisture-wicking capabilities, these cotton sheets are ideal for those sleepers who run on the hotter side. Here are some of the reasons you should invest in a set:
GOTS Certified Organic Cotton
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certifies that Mellanni's 400 Thread Count Sheet Set is made with 100% organic cotton and has been rigorously inspected to ensure our fibers are non-toxic and free from harmful synthetic chemicals before it even touches your skin. This makes them ideal for all skin types, including people with sensitive skin.
No pilling, shrinkage, or fading. Our sheets are manufactured with top-quality Combed Long-Staple Organic Cotton fibers that are easy to care for and allow help sheets get softer with each wash. Its quality structure is long-lasting with durable tear strength, colorfastness, and luxurious touch.
Luxury Sateen Weave
Provides an ultra-soft feel with breathable and cooling comfort. Mellanni's organic cotton sheets hold a beautiful subtle sheen and have an authentic silky smooth feel. Discover the perfect combination of softness and a hint of crispness for the ultimate sleeping experience year-round.
100% Flax Linen Bed Sheet Set
This stylish and extra-durable sheet set will be available soon.
100% Luxurious Flax Linen
Ultra-breathable, lightweight, & absorbent. Mellanni Linen Bed Sheet wicks away moisture to help regulate your temperature while you sleep. Enjoy cool & fresh comfort that gets softer with each wash. Ideal for hot sleepers.
Increased airflow is ideal for sensitive skin. Relaxed weave results in a relaxing, lightly massaging effect – no itchy or rough sheets to disturb your sleep.
Rustic texture adds a shabby chic look to any bedroom. Available in elegant earth tones in a white box, they're the perfect gift for birthdays, holidays, weddings, housewarmings & more.
Choosing between linen vs cotton sheets can be tough, but if you keep your preferences for certain qualities in mind it will be easy.
If you're looking for durable sheets that will last a lifetime, linen sheets are a great choice.
If you sleep better when your bedding keeps you cool all year round, organic cotton may be your best bet.
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