There are many things that can affect the quality of your sleep—how your bed feels, and its temperature can have a big impact. The fabric of your sheets, blankets, duvets, and pillows make a difference.
Many people consider cotton and linen sheets to be the most comfortable materials available for luxury bedding. This article will discuss the key differences between the two and how to choose what’s best for you. Read your way to a good night’s sleep.
About Cotton Sheets
Cotton is a very common choice for bedding and has been for centuries. It’s not surprising because cotton sheets are comfortable. Cotton fabrics come from the fluffs of a cotton plant that are spun into yarn and then woven to create a soft and durable fabric.
Read on to discover more about the materials that make up sheets and learn if cotton is ideal for your sleep preferences below.
What is Cotton?
Cotton is a natural fiber harvested from a cotton plant. The part of the cotton plant that becomes the fabric grows in the boll. The earliest production of cotton was in India, and its use dates back to the fifth century B.C.
Cotton is a staple textile that can be woven, knitted, or dyed. Its use is nearly universal — almost every household in the world probably has a percentage of cotton items in their closet. Cotton can also be turned into flannel, corduroy, muslin, and a variety of other fabrics.
There are four different types of cotton, which include:
- Pima cotton: Pima cotton is believed to be the finest type of cotton in the world. This is because the cotton fibers are extra soft and extra-long. Pima cotton is grown in South America and the American Southwest. Fabrics made from Pima are coveted because they’re resistant to fading, tearing, and wrinkling.
- Egyptian cotton: Egyptian cotton and Pima cotton come from the same scientific class, which is Gossypium barbadense. Egyptian cotton fabrics are also resistant to fading, tearing, and wrinkling. The only difference between the two is where they’re grown. Egyptian cotton is local to the Nile River Valley in Egypt.
- Upland cotton: Upland cotton has short to medium cotton fibers. It’s the most common type of cotton used in the world due to its affordability. In fact, the production of upland cotton makes up 90% of the thousands of acres devoted to growing cotton globally. It’s grown in Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and southern Florida.
- Organic cotton: Organic cotton is any type of cotton grown without chemicals. It also refers to cotton fabrics that come from plants not genetically engineered. Since cotton plants are subject to bug infestation, growers use pesticides and herbicides to minimize the effects on their plants. Some producers genetically modify the plants, as well. Organic cotton is grown without using either practice.
Understanding Cotton Staple
Cotton as a staple fiber means it’s composed of different, varying lengths of fibers. Cotton staple refers to the length of cotton fiber. The feel of a cotton fabric comes from its fiber length.
There are three types of staple length: short-staple, long-staple cotton, and extra-long staple. The differences in length reflect the difference in quality, strength, and softness of the fabric. Basically, as the cotton staple length increases, so does its soft, silky feel.
The most common short-staple cotton is upland cotton. It produces soft, strong, and low-maintenance fibers. It’s primarily used to make denim jeans and flannel clothing.
Extra-long staple (ELS) and long staple (LS) cotton produce the most luxurious cotton fabrics. The fibers are used to make sheets, towels, and other quality products.
Egyptian and Pima cotton are the most known extra-long-staple cotton plants. They’re only grown in limited quantities, though, because they’re challenging and require a significant amount of crop management. This is why they represent only about 3% of the entire world’s cotton production.
Pros and Cons of Cotton Sheets
Here are a few things you might like and dislike about cotton sheets:
- Soft: Cotton sheets feel soft and fluffy, retain their soft feel, and even get softer through washes.
- Durable: Luxury cotton sheets are wear-and-tear resistant. They are made from strong, durable fibers that are made to last.
- Breathable: Cotton is a highly breathable fabric, which helps you stay cooler longer due to its superb wicking qualities.
- No static cling: Static cling won’t be an issue with cotton sheets because the fabric doesn’t conduct electricity.
- Colors and textures: Cotton fabric is very absorbent and dyes easily. So, cotton sheets can be made in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and textures.
- Easily wrinkled: Cotton sheets have an issue with excessive wrinkling. You may need to exercise extra care when washing your sheets.
- Shrinkage: It’s the nature of cotton fabrics to shrink. Make sure you’re washing your cotton sheets in cool water and hang them to dry, if you can, to minimize shrinking.
About Linen Sheets
Linen sheets are also another popular choice for high-quality bedding. In fact, the term “linen” is used to refer to common household items, such as towels, tablecloths, and bed sheets — even when they’re not made out of linen fabric.
Linen is an eco-friendly fabric ideal for luxury bedding options. The following sections will help you understand if it’s the right choice for your sleep preferences.
What is Linen?
Linen is one of the oldest-known natural fibers. It comes from the stalks of a flax plant — a purple flowering plant native to Western Europe. The flax plant is a versatile herb that’s used to produce linseed oil as well as textiles.
The use of linen goes all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia. Aside from being a natural fabric, linen is strong, lightweight, and durable. Linen usage has a vast history and was used as wrappings for mummies in ancient Egypt.
One of the biggest benefits of linen is that it’s antibacterial. This means harmful bacteria and other germs have difficulty surviving within the fine and closely woven fibers. Also, linen fabrics have no lint or loose fibers and are hypo-allergenic. This is why linen is a highly sought-after material used in various products, including dressing for cuts and wounds.
Linen is also hydrophilic, which means the fiber absorbs and expands to hold water. This gives the material its moisture-wicking quality. Linen fibers are also typically thicker and longer. This is why linen beddings are smooth and comfortable.
Different Types of Linen
There are different types of linen. For instance, plain woven linen fabric has a loose weave and is highly absorbent. It’s also called glass toweling linen because it’s commonly used to make cloths for cleaning.
There’s also sheeting linen, which is heavy and primarily used to make sheets. However, the most common types of linen are:
- Irish linen: Irish linen is the brand name for linen spun in Ireland from 100% flax fibers. It’s considered to be the best linen fabric. To use the brand, producers must be a member of the Irish Linen Guild. Irish linen fabric must also be woven or knitted in Ireland, even if the raw material was not made or grown in the country. It’s the process that makes it a coveted fabric.
- Belgian flax linen: The production of Belgian linen is strictly governed by the Belgian Flax & Linen Association. The label is an internationally registered trademark. It was created to promote linen from Belgium. A linen fabric must be woven in a Belgium-based mill and consist of at least 85% flax grown in the European Union (EU) to carry the Belgian linen label.
- Japanese linen: Japanese linen has been around for centuries but was not accessible for everyday use. Aside from the fabric being expensive, early users of linen in Japan only produced materials for formal use. But a few textile artisans have been making products. Now, Japan and the rest of the world are getting a re-introduction to Japanese linen.
Does Thread Count Matter with Linen Sheets?
No, because most manufacturers of linen sheets don’t use thread count to describe their products. Linen fabrics are thicker, which makes them difficult to be woven tightly together. This results in a low thread count.
If they’re advertised with thread counts, the ideal count for linen sheets is around 80 to 120. But since most sheet makers mention weight instead, you’ll mostly see sheets measured by grams per square meter (GSM). The best sheets are the ones between 175 and 190 GSM.
Pros and Cons of Linen Sheets
Here are a few things you might like and dislike about linen sheets:
- Absorbent: Linen can absorb up to 20% of its own weight before starting to feel wet or damp. This is why it’s a good material for people who sweat in their sleep.
- Breathable: The fabric is very light and allows air through it easily. This means it doesn’t generate heat and retains your body’s temperature, keeping you cool and cozy.
- Not elastic: Linen doesn’t have much stretch, which is why it holds its shape over multiple washes.
- Soft: Linen sheets are the ultimate luxury bedding option because they’re very soft and silky. They don’t get coarse and even become softer after each wash.
- Environmentally friendly: Linen production uses the lowest number of pesticides in farming, and it only needs moderate rainfall to thrive. The material is also biodegradable.
- Durable: Linen sheets will last for years with proper care.
- Hypoallergenic: Linen fabrics are naturally hypoallergenic, making linen sheets ideal for people with sensitive skin or allergies.
- Easily wrinkled: Linen sheets wrinkle extremely easily and retain creasing. So, they may need extra care or ironing.
- Shrinkage: Linen fabrics may shrink. Use low heat when drying or hang to dry, if you can, to minimize wrinkles and shrinking.
- Expensive: The process of producing linen fabric is lengthy. Some steps are still done by hand, making linen products expensive.
Cotton vs. Linen Sheets
Cotton and linen sheets are both excellent choices for bedding. As you can see, both fabrics are soft, durable, absorbent, and breathable. But if you’re still undecided, find answers to common questions below.
Are Linen Sheets Cooler Than Cotton?
Yes, linen sheets can be cooler than cotton beddings. Both fabrics have excellent breathability and wicking qualities. Still, linen sheets tend to be cooler because they adjust to your body and room temperature. So, they’ll heat you up when it’s cold and cool you down when it’s hot.
This is why linen sheets are recommended for people who get a little warm and sweaty when sleeping. On the other hand, cotton sheets may feel better for people who tend to get cold. It will feel warm when you get in the bed and get warmer as it generates heat from your body.
So, are Cotton or Linen Bed Sheets Better?
Cotton and linen sheets are both great choices. But the best bed sheets for you will depend on your personal preferences for sleeping. If you want bed sheets with a softer feel, you might want to go with cotton sheets. When you’re shopping, remember that linen sheets may come with a higher price tag compared to most bedding options. But if you’re looking for durability, quality linen sheets have a long lifespan, and they get softer with each wash.
Discover Premium Cotton and Linen Bed Sheets from PlushBeds
We hope this article gives you a clearer idea of the key differences between linen and cotton sheets, so you can make an informed decision on the type of fabric that works best for the sleep comfort you desire.
Are you ready to pick your new bedding? PlushBeds offers a selection of organic cotton and fine linen sheet sets to help you get soft, eco-friendly sleep at the right price. Browse our website today to find everything you need for a good night’s sleep.
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