Bed sheets come in so many shapes, sizes, colors, and materials.
Linens are some of the oldest type of sheets, but cotton is the most accessible and easily recognizable material for sheets.
If you’ve ever wondered what the differences between linens and cotton are, well, I’m the person to help you out.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
What are Linen Sheets?
Well, linens are the oldest style of sheets. They’re ancient, but we’ve had a long time to perfect them. They’re made from flax stalks, and the threads that are produced from this plant are much thicker than cotton fibers.
So linens are going to feel a little bit weightier than cotton sheets, and they’re often measured by their weight, too.
Linens can be measured by their thread count, but if a company opts to lift that, it’s going to be on the lower end. I’m talking about 50 to 150.
thread count is not an indicator of quality, but it’s often an indicator of how breathable a set of sheets will sleep.
Speaking of breathability, linens are great for hot sleepers because they are super breathable and they have moisture wicking properties, which is a winning combination for fighting night sweats, which will keep you from overheating at night.
Linens are more textured than cotton sheets. They might not feel smooth, but they’re still really comfortable and high quality.
Linen sheets not feel itchy or scratchy on your skin.
What Are Cotton Sheets?
Everyone knows what cotton is. We see it in every fabric category, from clothes to towels to curtains to, of course, sheets, too.
Cotton is super accessible, and there are three main types of cotton: traditional, supima and Egyptian cotton.
The only difference between these three types of cotton is that supima and Egyptian cotton are more softer and more durable than traditional cotton. However, because of that, they tend to cost more than traditional cotton sheets.
Cotton will feel much softer and smoother when compared to linens, but they can feel different depending on their construction.
There are two main weave styles to construct cotton sheets, percale and sateen. The percale weave leaves cotton sheets feeling really crisp and looking great on your bed. And this is that typical cotton look you associate with cotton sheets.
On the other hand, we have sateen sheets, which it sounds like satin, so that’s what it’s going to feel like. It’s going to feel really soft and buttery smooth, and some of them can have a sheen when they’re on your bed.
Cotton is still a great option for hot sleepers because it is a really breathable material, too.
See also antibacterial bed sheets.
How are linen and cotton sheets similar? Both are great options for hot sleepers because they have a lot of breathability and often have constructions that will allow for air to flow through really easily.
Linen and cotton sheets have easy care. Most of the linen and cotton sheets I have encountered are machine washable and they are natural products, so they tend to be more eco friendly than sheets made out of synthetic materials.
How are linen and cotton sheets different? Linens are going to feel more textured, while cotton sheets tend to feel more smooth.
However, linens are super durable and should last you a very long time. Cotton is more affordable than linen and tends to have more variety in terms of construction. And you’ll see more color options available there, too.
Pros & Cons
To sum all this up, let’s talk about the pros and cons of both linen and cotton sheets.
Starting with the pros for linen sheets. They are a great option for people looking for hypoallergenic bedding, and they will fight common allergens in your sleep environment.
They’re also really great for hot sleepers because they have a combination of breathability and moisture wicking properties.
However, some cons for linens are that they tend to be more pricey than cotton sheets and they’re more prone to wrinkling.
Moving onto cotton, starting with pros there, these are more affordable and accessible, and they have really easy care.
However, some cons for cotton sheets are depending on their construction, they might trap heat more than linen sheets, and they aren’t as long lasting.
Let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions about linen and cotton sheets.
First question is linen cooler than cotton?
While both are great options for hot sleepers, I would rate linen just a little bit better because it has the added benefit of moisture wicking properties to it, especially when you compare it to a high thread count, sateen weave cotton sheets, which is prone to trap heat more.
Second question are linens or cotton better? Well, I’ve reviewed lots of cotton and linen sheets and ultimately the answer is it’s what you prefer.
If you like that texture to linen, then that’s great. Buy some linens. But if you love that crisp cotton feel, then obviously go for cotton.
If you made it this far to the video, hopefully you learned a thing or two about the differences between linen and cotton sheets.
Alex P. Davis has a BA in Interior Design from The New York School of Interior Design and 10 years of experience expertly designing sophisticated interiors.