What Should Grandma Sleep On: Linen vs. Cotton?

It’s early morning when you’re surprised to hear your phone ringing. You’re already up because you are preparing for a presentation that you are slated to give to your boss a few hours from now. So you pick up the phone and to your surprise, it’s your grandmother on the other end, calling to ask if she could visit you and her grandchildren for just a few days.

As you end the call, feeling happy with the news, delight quickly turns to dread as you realize the kind of sheets you have on the bed in the guest room. With nobody else visiting except your brother every so often, you’ve been content to just use cheap sheets on it and these simply won’t do for dear old grammy! With her arrival just a few days away, you’re left with the dilemma of picking out new bedsheets.

Linen vs Cotton

Grandma [/ˈɡran(d)ˌmä/] noun
Most likely your favorite relative, next to your cool uncle.

Mind you, buying new bedsheets shouldn’t be rocket science. And yet, as you peruse through online sites or walk through the aisles at Target, you’re left puzzled with terms such as thread count and “no iron finish,” and ponder whether there’s really much difference between linen vs. cotton and a myriad of other fabrics. This is on top of the cost with the question being, will a higher price tag mean a better night’s sleep?

Let’s face it: choosing a new bed sheet especially for someone as beloved as your grandma can be pretty overwhelming with the wide range of options available to average consumers such as yourself.

People often overlook the fact that bed sheets are the final steps to make your bed super comfy. Put on the wrong one and you (and worse, your grandma!) will end up lacking good, sound sleep and a dearth of energy the very next day. If you are the type of person who really didn’t bat an eyelash when it came to picking out bed sheets, well, it’s high time you did. So straighten up, buckle down as we take a dive into the pros and cons, and the differences between linen vs. cotton sheets. Pay attention as your grammy’s comfort depends on this!

Click here to find out what our recommendations for linen sheets are!

Table of Contents

Don’t want to read through our whole guide? You can use our table of content to jump to the part most relevant to you!

  1. What are Linen Sheets?
  2. What are Cotton Sheets?
  3. Which is Better: Linen vs. Cotton?
  4. Top Rated and Recommended Linen Sheets
  5. Top Rated and Recommended Cotton Sheets
  6. The Bottom Line

What are Linen Sheets?

Linen Sheets

Linen sheets have been touted for generations on end as the go-to material when outfitting a bed.

With its different thread counts and woven structure, many enjoy the comfort and smoothness of linen sheets especially when they aren’t left with a huge hole in their bank account after buying these.

The threads of linen sheets are usually thicker and longer than cotton and can endure far longer than their counterparts because of its heavy-duty nature. With a stiff-to-smooth and consistent texture, these sheets can also have slight massaging elements due to microscopic breaks in the fabric. The softness of linen sheets can also get better over time and after a number of washings without losing their durability.

What is the Linen Fiber?

Linen is a robust natural fiber that originates from the flax plant. The finest linen is derived from Europe, in particular, from Belgium, where the climate and rich soil is optimal for strong, beautiful flax. With Belgian linen, you’ll experience bedding with higher quality fibers.

Linen fabrics are considered to be heavier than their cotton equals, and they are estimated to be 30% stronger. They often feel crisp at first, though through time and use, linen fabrics become supple to the touch. Linen’s main features are longevity, luster, and lovely drape. As linen fibers are thicker than cotton fibers, a lower thread count is essential to ensure high quality, enduring linen fabric.

Linen is recognized for its absorbency as these can absorb up to 20% of its weight in moisture. Its ability to wick moisture, moreover, makes it preferable in keeping bedrooms and sleepers cool. But if you like to sleep warm and toasty, breathable linen is an ideal choice for you.

Linen bed sheets should be washed in cold water on a gentle cycle and can be tumble dried on delicate and low heat.

Benefits of Linen Sheets

Do you often wonder why hotels or Air BnBs usually use linen sheets? This is because these kinds of sheets are made of durable material. Linen sheets are so durable that they often outlast most fabrics in addition to being anti-allergic.

That’s not all; linen sheets have distinct filtering elements that can lessen the number of allergens and germs that are found in typical sets of bed sheets. With moisture reducing capabilities and breathability, airflow through the sheets keeps them cool and dry no matter how long they are being used. This can also lessen allergy symptoms or other respiratory issues.

Linen sheets are also anti-static, which lets the skin and body to keep their natural pH levels, which can benefit those who have sensitive skin or skin concerns.

Linen sheets have also been considered as one of the more environmentally-sound options when it comes to purchasing bed sheets because of their long life-span and their manufacturing from flax seeds, which are thought to be a renewable resource. These sheets are made from natural methods, and are also considered to be biodegradable when you are done with them and decide to finally throw them away.

The Downsides to Linen Sheets

It can really take a while for linen sheets (think three years worth of washings) to feel as smooth as cotton sheets. The reason for this is because of their thicker and coarser material at the start of their lifespan can be off-putting to those who actually want softness in their sheets from the minute they rip the package apart.

The higher the thread count in linen sheets can also increase its price, so to buy a softer linen bed sheet set would often mean you having to shell out hundreds of dollars. While it’s always prudent to invest in nice, comfy bed sheets, it’s not always the best idea when you are strapped for cash.

Click here to see what our recommendations for best cotton sheets are!

What are Cotton Sheets?

Cotton Sheets

Cotton sheets are bed sheets that are made from the fluff cultivated by a cotton plant. Cotton fibers are fluffier than linen fibers, and cotton fabrics are known for their versatility, softness, and comfort.

Used for many, many generations because of how accessible cotton is, cotton sheets get their strength from the weaving of a number of fibers into yarn. This yarn is then used to make cotton sheets or other material objects. Already soft straight out of the packaging, cotton sheets are recognized all over the world for their instant comfort, feel and ability to just wrap a person in sheer coziness.

Benefits of Cotton Sheets

The complex woven structure that is employed during the manufacturing process is what makes cotton sheets strong and durable. While the longevity of cotton sheets are not at par with that of linen sheets, cotton delivers excellent breathability through airflow channels and a sleeping surface that is cool to the skin.

Consistent use and washings allows these soft sheets to become even smoother, providing you with a luxurious feel every time you make your way in between them for bed. This is especially good for those who sleep hot or experience hot flashes.

With its woven design, cotton sheets can retain moisture that amounts to approximately 25% of their weight. They also adjust between seasons very well with a number of layers providing both weight and warmth during the frigid months as well as a single sheet being more than enough for those hot, steamy, summer nights.

The Downsides to Cotton Sheets

Cotton sheets often last for a period of three to five years, which basically means that you have to spend every so often to have them replaced. This comes from the slightly weaker material that is utilized in the construction of the sheets. While the cotton sheets are soft and smooth from the very first touch, this means the threads of the sheets can deteriorate just as easily over a period of time than the threads of linen sheets.

Cotton also lack strong moisture-wicking ability, so they can take longer to dry when wet, and that’s regardless if the moisture comes from night sweats or simple washing.

If you want to see what the best linen sheets are, click here!

So Which is Better: Linen vs. Cotton?

Linen vs Cotton Sheets

While cotton, derived from the cotton plant, and linen, from the flax plant, are both natural plant fibers, there are many distinct differences between them. The term “Linens” can colloquially cite any household item, but this should not be confused with linen fabric. So let’s go ahead and compare cotton and linen in a wide range of categories in order to help you better understand their differences and ultimately, what will suit grammy’s needs best?

Strength and Longevity

Linen is recognized to be the world’s strongest natural fiber. Just how durable is linen? It’s even used in paper money to bolster its strength! It is thicker than cotton and linen fiber has different lengths, most of which are very long. This results in strength, which then leads to longevity. Trust us when we say that linen lasts a very long time.

The strength of cotton is attained through spinning a number fibers into yarn and weaving the yarn into fabric.

The Feel

As mentioned several times above, linen is derived from the flax plant and is a bast fiber. Recognized to be crisper than cotton, linen becomes soft and supple through handling. It attains its elegance and softens to behold the most fluid drape. Though it has more natural texture than cotton, it is silky with high degree of luster.

Wrinkles? Both cotton and linen are linked to wrinkles. Linen fibers have a natural resin that is called lignan. Initially, the fibers are stiff and easily crease. The wrinkles though, become smoother through handling and use.

The cotton plant produces fluffy fiber clusters called bolls. They are very soft to the touch and resilient to handling. Cotton fabrics can be very soft and no other plant fiber can offer the same type of comfortable hand at first touch.

Interactivity With Moisture

Natural fibers absolutely love water. Linen is considered to be nature’s wicking fiber. It can gain up to 20% moisture before it will begin to feel damp. Cotton absorb over 25% its weight in water.

In addition, linen is recognized for gaining more strength when it is wet. It has the natural ability to avert bacterial growth. For towels, this is very crucial as hand and bath towels are often the perfect home for microbes.

The kinship of cotton and linen to moisture is one reason why natural fibers are comfortable to wear and to have in bedrooms. They work really well with our bodies and contribute to comfort.


The fibers of linen are hollow, naturally moving air and moisture. During the frigid season, layer linen blankets or a throw to hold heat and warmth that is produced by your body. Linen responds to the season and the body in contact with the cloth to give the best of all circumstances. Linen is really a natural insulator. It is regarded for its ability to keep cool in the summer months and hold warmth in cooler weather. This is all made possible because of the natural properties of the fiber.

Cotton blankets on the other hand, move naturally between seasons. Their warmth is found in the comfort of their feel. Innovative design and texture offer places for air, which essentially adds to its comfort. During cold months, make use cotton blankets and throws to layer. They will add weight. In warm climates, use of a cotton blanket or throw alone and it will offer rest and relaxation under the perfect weight. Your blankets have one job and one job only and that is to keep you warm, cozy and comfortably nested. Natural plant fibers outshine.

Health Benefits

Linen has been known to help with everything from anti-stress to helping you get better sleep. Linen is also thought to have healing properties and even reduce “itis” conditions such as arthritis and dermatitis.

History has shown that ancient Egyptians used linen for its natural ability to help battle microorganisms. Linen has been known to be tolerable for those with allergies and to soothe skin conditions.

Click here to learn what the best cotton sheets are today!

Top Rated and Recommended Linen Bed Sheets

Linen Sheet Recommendation 1

1. Len Linum

  • The fitted sheet has elastic all the way around for a better fit
  • Easy to wash in a gentle cycle
  • Breathable but warm for year-round comfortable sleep

Price & Reviews

The linen sheets made and sold by Len Linum come all the way from Europe and make use of 100 percent fine organic natural flax for production. The tangle free, static free material stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter with exception comfort and softness. You’ll find them plush, especially if you’re used to the cotton option, and you’ll feel good about your all-natural product selection, with the flax carefully cultivated, harvested, and weaved in an environmentally sound manner in Belarus.

Linen Sheet Recommendation 2

2. Simple&Opulence Embroidery Linen

  • Durable and long lasting
  • Won’t shrink in the washer
  • Inexpensive way to obtain the highest luxury material for bed sheets

Price & Reviews

These sheets feature luxury hotel quality that you can take home without needing to pull of the heist of the century. Because linen can be prohibitively expensive, the fact that Simple&Opulence sheets are remarkably low-priced is something you should be thankful for. In addition, the material is embroidered for an upgrade in your overall bedroom design. While the product is made in China, the fine flax fibers come from Belgium, perhaps the second most quality producer, behind France. The sheets are virtually wrinkle-free, meaning you won’t need to iron them.

Linen Sheet Recommendation 3

3. Lausonhouse Linens

  • Smooth texture and soft feel
  • Sleep very cool with plenty of breathability
  • Deep pockets on fitted sheets work for mattresses of all thicknesses

Price & Reviews

If you choose to buy Lausonhouse Linen bed sheets, you’ll have a sheet set made from the finest French flax and woven into a material that exudes luxury unlike any other sheet you have had before. These premium bed sheets are 100 percent linen and come from one of the finest manufacturing facilities in China. The simple design of the sheets is appealing or any bedroom, whether classic or contemporary, master or guest.

Linen Sheet Recommendation 4

4. Merryfeel Linens

  • Quality and durability at a reasonable price
  • Manufactured in one of the finest plants in China and made from the highest quality French flax fiber
  • Even coloration of the dye

Price & Reviews

Woven with genuine French flax, Merryfeel bed sheets have a luxurious finish with delicate but sturdy fibers that will last you for many, many decades. The material has a delicate texture that keeps the softness you expect from linen sheets while also creating the feel of a warm, comforting hug. The sheets are naturally antibacterial as well as hypoallergenic, and they have a great moisture wicking property that keeps you from worrying about any potential night sweats.

Top Rated and Recommended Cotton Bed Sheets

Cotton Sheet Recommendation 1

1. AmazonBasics 400 Thread Count Sheet Set

  • Satiny finish
  • Fully elastic fitted sheet
  • Affordable

Price & Reviews

A set of super comfortable and soft cotton sheets is what you will be getting with the AmazonBasics 400 thread count sheet set. The set comes with the standard flat and fitted sheet, as well as two pillowcases. The differences between these sheets and others in the market that are similar include the finish, fit, and price. First, these are sateen cotton sheets, so they have a satiny look and feel to them. Secondly, the fitted sheet includes elastic all around the edge to ensure a snug fit on mattresses up to 20 inches thick.

Cotton Sheet Recommendation 2

2. Thread Spread True Luxury 100% Egyptian Cotton

  • Crisp feel
  • Fully elastic fitted sheet
  • Thick fabric

Price & Reviews

These Egyptian cotton sheets are an affordable choice for those who want to see what all the talk is about regarding this world-famous fabric, but you must bear in mind that there’s no way to tell for certain that these are 100 percent genuine Egyptian cotton. The manufacturer claims that these sheets are 1000 thread count, which would produce a thick and soft fabric.

Cotton Sheet Recommendation 3

3. Royal Hotel Stripe White 1000 Thread Count Queen Bed Sheet Set

  • Soften after washing
  • Fully elastic fitted sheet
  • Heavy sheets

Price & Reviews

Here’s the thing about 100 percent cotton sheets like these: they’re going to wrinkle and there is just no way around that with cotton sheets, unless they’re treated with chemicals to make them wrinkle-free. So, if wrinkles are a big issue, you’re going to need to look for another material or bust out your iron. These sheets are soft, but not as soft as you might expect.

Cotton Sheet Recommendation 4

4. Mellanni 100% Cotton Bed Sheet Set

  • Made of 300TC Sateen
  • Deep pocket with elastic all around for ideal fit
  • Super soft and smooth for an ultra luxurious feel

Price & Reviews

This set is a dependable option that works well for a number of needs. The Mellanni brand consistently makes high-quality linens that are soft, yet safe for everyday use. With the cotton bed sheet, this offers luxurious comfort at a 300 thread-count. Plus there are a number of other benefits that includes durability, breathability and fade resistance.

The Bottom Line

Either linen and cotton fiber features its own natural beauty and attributes. Simply put:

Linen is smooth and fluid.

Cotton on the other hand, is resilient and soft to the touch.

Both are also very comfortable and breathable. If you want grammy to be surrounded with the softness and smoothness of nature’s fibers, choose a bed sheet that is made of either fabric. You can never go wrong and she will love you more for it!

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