Considered the two best materials for bed sheets, choosing between linen and cotton can sometimes feel overwhelming. There is no doubt that the type of fabric your bedding is made of affects its feel, insulation, longevity, and even its drape. Although cotton and linen may be a class apart from the rest in these categories, is there any separating the both of them?
History of Cotton: Cotton pieces have been found in Mexican caves that are estimated to be at least 7,000 years old. Although not the oldest, cotton is almost as old as linen, and has been around human civilization for a long while. It was brought to Europe by Arab merchants about 800 A.D, and was spread across the world upon the “discovery” of America in the late 15th century.
History of Linen: Linen is the oldest natural fiber ever used to weave fabric. It is estimated that its first usage was back in the Mediterranean civilization some 8,000 years ago. Since then, it has spread to Europe, where it gained popularity in the medieval times, and has continued its spread across the globe. Linen lost its popularity in the 18th century as cotton production became much easier and faster with spinning machines. Now, it is generally considered a luxury fabric, no thanks to its high production cost.
Benefits of Cotton: Cotton is a soft natural fiber derived from the plant bearing its name (cotton plant). It is known for its durability and strength – a result of the complex woven structure used during its construction. It absorbs reasonable amounts of moisture and is known for its great breathability and insulation qualities. Consistently washing your cotton sheets makes them smoother, and better for bed.
Benefits of Linen: Linen is the strongest natural fiber in the world, and is generally considered by Europeans to be the best material to sleep in. This natural fiber is gotten from the flax plant. Amongst its many benefits are its longevity and incredible insulation properties (which enables it allow air flow in the summer and retain warmth in the winter). Linen is also known for its unique filtering characteristics that reduce the number of allergens found in typical beddings.
Cotton Vs Linen
When it comes to direct comparison, linen edges out cotton in a number of distinct areas. Linen fabrics are typically 30% stronger than cotton fabrics. Quality fabric may initially be softer than linen, but linen is known to soften over time without losing any of its durable properties. Linen is also a better insulator, reacting to seasons and allowing for better air and moisture circulation. It is also more absorbent, more eco-friendly, and has wonderful hypo allergenic properties lacking in cotton.
Yes, although linen and cotton may be similar products in both their look and feel, when considering the best fabric for your sheets, stonewashed linen bedding come out tops. As cotton fades and dies after 3-5 years of use, linen sheets begin to shine and come into their own, sticking around for the next few decades if looked after properly.