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May 29, 2018

We love natural fabrics. We love them for their comfort, functionality, durability and sustainability. But which natural fabric is best? In the debate over linen vs cotton we are firmly on the side of linen, and for good reason.

Here's why we vote linen every time, over every other fabric:

Differences between linen and cotton

Cotton is used more widely than linen across the world, but is this a good thing? And how can you tell the difference between the two fabrics? Firstly, use your sense of touch: linen feels slightly thicker and stronger than cotton. When you look closely at the fabric, if you notice a ‘slubby’ texture it’s probably linen, which has longer fibres than cotton. You might also notice a visible lined pattern in the weave of a linen garment, whereas cotton can appear smoother and more uniform.  A linen item may also have more natural creases than a cotton piece.

Linen vs cotton bedlinen

linen vs cotton bedlinen

For a good night's sleep you need to feel comfortable. Whilst cotton is preferable to synthetic fibres, linen bedding still wins hands down in the comfort department. Linen sheets are not only soft, they also have temperature-regulating qualities that will keep you cool even on the warmest nights, and cosy when it's cold outside. And thanks to its natural ability to wick moisture away from your body, you won't wake up feeling sweaty either. Just blissfully well rested and ready for your day.

Why linen clothes are better than cotton

And it's not only linen bedlinen that we love more than cotton. Linen clothes also offer the same temperature-regulating properties and supersoft comfort. In fact, research has shown that people wearing linen perspire less than those wearing cotton. Linen clothes are quick to dry and lightweight too, making them a great choice for travelling. Thanks to their charming crumples there's no need to worry about ironing, either. Linen clothes lend an air of casual elegance and breezy simplicity. They are unfussy, unfaddy and show that whilst you care about your appearance you are not swayed by fast fashion trends. You want clothes that you can wear everywhere, any time, whether you are walking the dog, on the school run, giving an important presentation or meeting friends for dinner.

Cotton clothes can be lovely, but they can also become threadbare and lose their shape after repeated washing. Unlike linen, which actually gets better with every wash. Linen is also moth-resistent and anti-microbial too, meaning your clothes stay fresher and looking great for longer.

Linen is a more sustainable option

linen vs cotton - sustainability

The method of producing linen fabric from the flax plant uses far less water than it does to produce the same amount of cotton. This makes it a more sustainable choice. Fewer pesticides are used to grow flax than in cotton growing, and linen fibers can be processed without the use of chemicals. Which is only going to be a good thing for the planet.

Cotton plant also requires huge acreage, whereas flax will happily grow on poor soil. Organic cotton is a good choice if you are trying to buy environmentally-friendly textiles, but due to the reduction in crop yields resulting from the lack of chemicals allowed for organic cotton production, it requires yet more land. Linen is less resource-hungry, and once it has finished its useful life linen fabric will simply biodegrade with no harmful waste or by-products.

Better texture, look and feel

linen table linen vs cotton

There's a reason food stylists, Instagrammers and interior stylists choose linen textiles. They simply have a much more interesting look and feel to cotton alternatives. Whilst cotton textiles can look flat and bland, linen has texture and a depth to its fibres that is completely on trend right now. From stylish picnics to poolside snaps, linen homewares are rightly having a moment. Linen looks stunning whether you opt for muted, neutral Scandi-inspired hues or go for pops of bold colour. And it will keep on looking and feeling amazing for years to come thanks to its durability and the fact that, like most good things, it gets better with age.

Are you with us in the linen and cotton debate? What do you love about this amazing fabric?



Wow why didn't I know the difference between linen and cotton when I've been wearing both for years!

I bought a new duvet cover set yesterday and the label says "70% cotton, 30% linen". That got me asking to Google what is the difference?

Thanks for the great article - I appreciate increasing knowledge from good source!


Great and very informative article! I’m going to share it and hope to spread awareness for environmentally friendly sustainable textiles.

P.S. you have a typo: “where everywhere” should be “wear everywhere.”


Have you got any tips for ironing linen clothes? I find it impossible and avoid all linen clothes because I can’t iron out the creases!


Dear Vikki,

We love linen fabric’s natural creases, but if you really need to iron your linen clothes make sure they are slightly damp.


In reply to by Vikki (not verified)


Put your linen clothing in the dryer only long enough to toss the wrinkles out - do not let them dry! Then hang them up, carefully pulling seams straight and smoothing out wrinkles. Use clothes pins to keep desired shape (bottom & top edges of openings together, pant creases where you want them). Let air dry, and your linen clothing will look great!

In reply to by Vikki (not verified)


Hi Tana,

Linen fabric itself doesn't perform medical function. Though you could design the mask in a way as a holder with place for some insert, which could perform medical function.


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)


Thank you Mallory.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Tana Hartman Thorn

Can linen be used to make antiviral hospital masks?

Jeannie P Griffith

Could I use linen for microwave bowl cozy's?


Dear Jeannie,

Sure you can. E.g. LinenMe makes linen bread baskets.


In reply to by Jeannie P Griffith (not verified)

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