The Difference Between Cotton And Linen Fabric

Understanding the difference between cotton and linen fabrics helps you live a healthy lifestyle. Think about it.

Once you find the ideal option that works for you, you will buy the right bed sheets and clothes that keep you comfortable throughout the day.

At present, cotton and linen are the most popular fabrics in the textile industry. And choosing between the two can be challenging.

So, it always helps to understand the unique advantages and disadvantages offered by each fabric.

Why the Cotton fabric is consider one of the best

Cotton comes from the cotton plant. The fibers in the cotton plant get spun and woven after they grow into a boll.

Cotton has a softer feel, offers excellent aesthetics and breathability.

Additionally, its manufacturing process does not take as long as that of linen.

A look at the Linen fabric

Linen has been in existence for centuries. Thus, this fabric has gained a wide range of popularity with most homeowners.

In fact, the Egyptians used linen to conduct the mummification process. But where does linen come from?

Linen comes from flax plant fibers. The flax plant is grown in cool regions, and when it gets harvested, the fibers are set apart to create linen. Then, the fibers get spun and woven to produce linen.

One of the linen’s main advantages is that it contains hollow fibers that allow maximum breathability and make them a good insulator. Even so, manufacturing linen is not an easy process.

Cotton vs. linen: What are the differences?

  • Manufacturing process

Linen takes way longer to manufacture compared to cotton. The flax fibers have to undergo specific procedures before they get woven into the final fabric.

And generally, this process is more challenging than the cotton manufacturing process.

Even though you won’t have to evaluate this property upon purchase, it is essential to know that cotton incurs a more straightforward manufacturing process.

  • Insulation properties

The fibers used to manufacture linen are naturally good insulators. Thus, linen is ideal for use in areas where the temperatures are relatively higher.

Flax fibers are hollow; hence they allow for proper ventilation. Even so, some experts report that linen is not able to keep you warm during the cool months compared to cotton.

On the flip side, cotton fabric is also a good insulator under one condition; it has to be dry.

Whenever cotton is wet, it loses all its insulation properties. Therefore, when it comes to insulation, you would instead go for cotton.

  • Softening properties for both cotton and linen fabric

Both linen and cotton have a soft and comfortable feel. Nevertheless, cotton feels way softer than linen.

Therefore, your cotton sheets would feel more comfortable to wear and touch, mostly when new.

Before we rule out linen, flax fibers are generally rougher to the touch. But one thing with linen is that it gets softer with time.

Therefore, you would require washing the kit several times so that it gets softer. Avoid using fabric softeners to increase the softness of linen.

Both fabrics can offer exceptional levels of softness and yet last for long. However, linen wins when it comes to durability.

If you are looking for cloth with a softer feel upon purchase, cotton is a better alternative.

  • Suitable for people with allergies

Both cotton and linen are ideal for people with allergies.

Remember, both fabrics come from natural plants. However, it is essential to note that linen is a better option compared to cotton. Cotton fibers are more likely to accumulate dirt and dust particles compared to linen.

Thus, if you are prone to getting allergies, linen is a better alternative. Flax fibers in linen are relatively hollow. Consequently, they don’t allow a buildup of any dirt particles.

  • More environmentally friendly

As seen earlier, both cotton and linen fibers come from natural plants. So, both are eco-friendly. But experts report that linen is more eco-friendly compared to cotton.

This is because linen uses minimal percentages of pesticides and fertilizers compared to cotton. As a matter of fact, cotton uses five times more pesticides and fertilizers to develop mature fibers.

  • Water wicking properties

When it comes to water wicking properties, linen is much better. When you sweat, linen will draw the sweat from your skin and dry it fast.

Cotton also does the same thing. However, linen is much better when it comes to water wicking.

If you live in hot geographical areas, it would be best to go for linen clothes and sheets. They tend to dry faster compared to cotton. Think about it. You don’t want to stay wet with sweat on a sunny day for hours.

  • Breathability of cotton compared to linen fabric

Cotton and linen offer excellent breathability, however, note that there is a wide range of cotton fabrics.

And some are more breathable than others. For example, cotton denim is less breathable than standard cotton garments. Therefore, it is vital to note that cotton highly relies on the weave of the fabric rather than its fibers for breathability.

Conversely, all types of linen allow for maximum breathability, thanks to their hollow flax fibers.

  • Water absorbency for both linen vs cotton fabric

Cotton has better absorbing properties compared to linen. Cotton can take in five percent more moisture than linen. Thus, if you sweat a lot at night, you would instead go for cotton or eucalypso bed sheets. Flax fibers also have the capability of absorbing water but not as much as cotton.

  • More longevity

More often than not, cotton lasts for approximately five years. But with better cotton washing practices it may last even longer. You may think that this is long enough until you hear the durability offered by linen.

Linen fibers are way stronger than cotton. Therefore, they have a longer lifespan. Not to mention, linen fibers get better with time.

The more you wash linen, the more they feel good to the touch and become stronger. On average, linen is 30% stronger than cotton. The fabric can last for over thirty years when well taken care of.


Is cotton or linen better?

The expansion of the textile industry has brought about a wide range of fabric types in the market.

Today, two of the most popular fabrics are cotton and linen. Both cotton and linen offer unique advantages and disadvantages.

Thus, before settling for one option between the two, it would be best to understand how each of these fabrics works.

Typically, both linen and cotton come from natural plant sources. Moreover, they both offer high longevity and are environmentally friendly. But which is better? Cotton or linen?

Value you get with Linen material

Deciding on a better option between the two requires us to understand both fabrics in detail. Linen fabric comes from flax plants.

What happens is that when the flax plant gets harvested, manufacturers extract the fibers from this plant.

Then, they separate the long and short fibers, and they weave the fibers into linen fabric using the short fibers.

Note that the manufacturing process of linen takes longer compared to that of cotton. Often, linen is ideal for making bedsheets, towels, table cloths  and sleeping bras due to its breathability.

Benefits of cotton fabric

On the flip side, cotton comes from the cotton plant. The cotton plant usually contains fibers that grow into a boll.

Once this happens, the boll undergoes spinning and weaving to form a fabric. Cotton is well known for its comfortability, durability, and aesthetics.

Furthermore, cotton fabric comes is different types.

Cotton vs. Linen: The better option?

Although cotton and linen offer a wide range of benefits, they differ a lot.

Let’s take a look at some of these differences below.

Aesthetics of cotton compared to linen fabric

As mentioned earlier, flax fibers are more robust and rougher compared to cotton fibers.

Therefore, linen aesthetics can last for years. After some time, cotton fibers will start wearing out hence tampering with the aesthetics of the fabric.

Nonetheless, note that both materials offer excellent aesthetics upon purchase. However, the aesthetics of cotton fiber won’t last as long as linen. Additionally, both linen and cotton are prone to wear and tear since both come from natural plants.

They are prone to shrinkage and wrinkling, only that linen fibers are more robust.

Fortunately, there is a wide range of techniques you can incorporate to restore shrunk and wrinkled fibers.

Also, keep in mind that almost all fabrics experience such problems.

Moisture absorbent properties – linen vs cotton

Another similar characteristic for both linen and cotton is that they are absorbent. As a result, both fabrics can handle sweat and liquid spills. Also, water strengthens both materials. Linen becomes softer after several washes.

Cotton, however, is more absorbent compared to linen. While linen can hold only 20% of water, cotton can hold up to 25%.

Although the difference is relatively small, if you are looking for a more absorbent option, cotton is the best.

Hypoallergenic properties of linen vs cotton materiel

Cotton and linen are both ideals for people with allergies. But linen would be a better option if you have severe allergies.

Flax fibers do not accumulate as many dirt particles as cotton fibers do.

Thus, with linen sheets or garments, you are less likely to experience sneezing, coughing, skin irritation, among other allergies.

If you have a sick person at home, it would be best to go for more linen sheets and clothes. Additionally, if you are a new mum, linen clothes would work correctly for your infant.

Remember, a baby’s skin can be very delicate. Thus, they should not get exposed to harsh and hyper allergenic fibers.

Lifespan of both cotton and linen fabric

Contrary to popular belief, cotton is less durable than linen. Despite cotton having high versatility, its longevity does not match up to that of linen. Even so, there is another type of cotton that proves more potent than regular cotton.

It offers more durability compared to standard cotton, but it is still not as durable as linen. Conversely, linen is more durable because its fibers are usually spun and woven using more pressure than cotton.

Consequently, linen offers more longevity. On average, cotton garments last about five to seven years, while linen garments can last for three decades.

Temperature regulation for both linen and cotton material

Since linen fibers are relatively hollow, they offer the perfect temperature for a good night’s sleep during summer. Even so, do not depend on linen sheets or garments to provide warmth during the winter months. Cotton provides favorable temperatures both during summer and winter.

Soft feel of cotton compared to linen garments

In terms of feel, cotton is better. The material is very soft to the touch compared to linen. But why?

Cotton fibers are softer compared to flax fibers. So, it would feel much better sleeping in your cotton pajamas or on a cotton sheet at night. Additionally, you would feel more comfortable wearing a cotton garment. Flax fibers are relatively rough compared to cotton fibers.

Therefore, they are not soft to the touch. All in all, if you are looking for a softer fabric, it would be best if you went for cotton.

Why linen clothes are better than cotton

In general, experts report that linen clothes are better than cotton. Linen offers better functionality compared to cotton. Linen dries faster due to its fantastic water wicking properties.

This fabric can also last for more than three decades, while cotton can only last for 5 to 7 years. Therefore, linen offers more value for money compared to cotton.

Although it may be slightly more expensive, it provides value for money. In fact, linen often becomes better after multiple washes.

Quite the contrary, cotton fibers become weaker after multiple washes. Even though cotton clothes offer excellent aesthetics, they tend to lose their original shape and luster after some time. Additionally, linen is anti-static and anti-bacterial. Thus, linen is an ideal option for helping you live a healthy lifestyle.

Linen Vs Cotton garment – which to pick?

From this article, it is clear to see how both cotton and linen fabrics have unique properties. Choosing between the two often depends on your requirements. However, linen is typically a better alternative than cotton.

I mean, linen offers more breathability, longevity and has better water-wicking properties. But you have to note that linen won’t give you the warmth you require during the winter months. At present, cotton and linen are the most common fabrics among most homeowners.

Ideally, almost everyone has either a linen or cotton sheet in their bedroom cabinets. Both fabrics are well known for providing a broad spectrum of benefits. However, cotton and linen significantly differ. So, choosing between the two materials will depend on your requirements.

But in general, linen is usually considered a better option compared to cotton. Of course, you can always overlook this and focus on the numerous benefits that linen has to offer. At the end of the day, choose a fabric that caters to all your needs.