Linen vs cotton: which bed sheets are for you?

It’s time to invest in a new set of bedding, but which fabric is best for bed sheets? Here’s our guide to linen and cotton to help you pick the best bedding material for you.

What is cotton bedding?

Cotton bedding is bedding made from the umm… well, the cotton plant. But not all cotton bedding is equal. Let us explain…

Bedding made from low calibre or short-staple cotton can feel rough, is susceptible to bobbling and can degrade over time. It’s the type of low-quality cotton that has us tossing and turning in our sleep. Ick.

As staple length increases, cotton becomes softer and more durable – and who doesn’t want to get tangled up in buttery-soft bedding for a third of their lives? Invest a few more of your hard-earned pennies on some high calibre cotton and you’ll have bedding that dreams are made of.

We continuously monitor cotton quality from around the world, hand-picking the finest threads on the market. These are then woven into super-soft bedding by the experts in our mill in northern Portugal, which (and we’re not exaggerating) is the best in the world.

Shop our cotton collection here

Bedfolk Classic Cotton bedding bundle in Dove
Classic Cotton Bedding Bundle in Dove

What is linen bedding?

Linen bedding is made from the hardy flax plant and it’s one of world’s oldest and toughest fabrics - even Cleopatra sported a linen kalasiri back in the day!

Linen bedding has a higher price point than cotton because the production process is more complicated, and it takes longer to make. Cheap linen can feel stiff and scratchy but invest in the good quality stuff and it should be soft and airy from the get-go.

Whilst Russia and Kazakhstan have the highest rates of flax production, some of the finest flax is sourced in Western Europe, most notably Belgium & France.

 At Bedfolk, our 100% linen is made from only the finest calibre materials, by the best makers in the world. In this case, that means Belgian and French flax, woven in the same world-class mill our 100% cotton bedding is crafted in.

Shop our linen collection here

Linen Bedding Bundle in Snow
Linen Bedding Bundle in Snow

The key differences between cotton and linen

Cotton vs linen – which bed material is best?

The look and feel of cotton

With cotton, comes choice. There are two main types of weave to choose from in the world of high quality cotton bedding - percale and sateen, and the difference in look and feel can be dramatic. 

Percale cotton bedding

A percale weave uses a traditional criss-cross pattern - one thread over, and one thread under. It has a matte finish that feels crisp and cool to the touch (like your favourite shirt). The breathability of these sheets make them well suited to hot sleepers.
At Bedfolk, we produce two types of percale cotton bedding:
Our Classic percale bedding is finished the traditional way, giving it a crisp and cool feel.
Our Relaxed super soft bedding is finished in the wash, giving it the crumpled look of stonewashed linen.

Bedfolk Relaxed in Snow 100% Cotton Bedding Percale Cotton WeavePercale Cotton Bedding (this is our Relaxed style)

Sateen cotton bedding

A sateen weave uses a ‘one thread under, three threads over’ pattern of construction. It feels silky soft, has a subtle sheen and a slightly heavier drape than percale cotton bedding, making it a better fit for snoozers that like to wrap up warm. Sounds dreamy, and it is.

At Bedfolk, we use a sateen weave for our Luxe sateen bedding.

Bedfolk Luxe Sateen Cotton Bedding Bundle in SnowSateen Cotton Bedding (this is our Luxe style)

The look and feel of linen

Ah, linen bedding… It’s got the scrunch factor, it’s effortlessly stylish and has a naturally soft texture. It’s the kind of bedding that looks good thrown on the bed; no styling, tucking or folding required. What’s not to love?

But there’s more benefits to linen than its good looks. It’s the perfect bedding for year-round use too.  

The weave of linen allows for airflow and makes it breathable, whilst its moisture wicking properties have the effect of a natural anti-perspirant. Linen bedding also works as a natural insulator to keep you cosy in the winter. Win, win. 

Bedfolk 100% Linen in SnowLinen Bedding in Snow

Care and cleaning

We’re often asked, ‘Which sheets iron easier, linen or cotton?’ Here’s the lowdown on that, along with other easy care tips that’ll help you keep your bedding at its very best for years to come.

How to care for cotton

Washing cotton sheets is easy. Pop them on a normal, 40 degree cycle with a bit of mild liquid detergent. High quality cotton softens during washing so there’s no need for fabric softener (and it can even have the opposite effect, coating and weakening the natural fibres).

Most cotton bedding is at its best after a quick iron. To make this as easy, remove from the dryer whilst slightly damp, and iron straight away. 

If ironing isn’t your bag, remove your bedding from the dryer whilst slightly damp and make your bed to finish drying flat. Smooth out any wrinkles with your hands.

Our Relaxed percale cotton bedding is designed to have the crumpled look of linen - so you can put that iron down…

Bedfolk Relaxed Cotton Bedding in Rose and SnowRelaxed cotton bedding has the crumpled look of linen

How to care for linen

If, like us, you prefer to spend less time ironing and more time wrapped up in meringue-peaked softness then we have good news… linen doesn’t require ironing and it washes like a dream too.  The more you wash linen, the softer it gets.

Bedfolk Linen in Snow and RoseThe more you wash linen, the softer it gets...

Life span

At Bedfolk our ethos is ‘buy once, buy well’ and a good night’s sleep relies on the best materials for the job. Investing in the best first time will give back for years to come.

How sustainable is cotton?

We’ve heard the marketing spiel a million times – ‘High thread counts equal better sheets.’ It’s a metric that’s had hugely exaggerated importance in the world of cotton bedding. 

What really matters, is the quality of yarn as opposed to the quantity of threads (want to learn more? Have a read of this). 

If you buy good quality cotton bedding and take good care of it (here’s how), it will last for years to come.

Bedfolk 100% Cotton BeddingForget thread count - it's all about the quality of the yarn

How sustainable is linen?

We want a bed partner that’s going to stick around for the long run. Cue linen…

It’s incredibly durable and can last for decades if treated well. Makers in our Portuguese mill have been known to hand sets down between generations. At the end of its (long) life it’s fully biodegradable, so it’s a really sustainable choice.

Bedfolk 100% Linen in Ink BlueLuxury heritage grade linen will last for decades

At Bedfolk, we only use the good stuff. We’re not cheap, and we don’t intend to be, because the responsible manufacture of high quality cotton and linen comes at a cost. Our mill enforces the most rigorous of standards, making sure that only the finest materials make it into our bedding, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re sleeping in the best.
AS ALWAYS, OUR TEAM OF COMFORT ADDICTS ARE ALWAYS AVAILABLE FOR ANY QUESTIONS, AND LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. GET IN TOUCH HERE.