Egyptian Cotton vs Linen

We are often asked what are the main differences between Linen sheets and Egyptian Cotton Sheets?

This is a very good question as the difference in price can be quite a lot. We are told that bed linen made from pure Egyptian cotton is the best in the world, so how can pure linen sheets be more expensive?

natural egyptian cotton budsSupply and Demand:

More people buy products made from cotton than they do from Linen so the price is cheaper. As they manufacture and sell more the cost per metre of the finished product comes down.

Linen is very time consuming and labour intensive and cannot be woven on high speed looms like cotton can.

It is not as robust as Egyptian cotton and cannot be stretched or made taut in the same way using large scale high speed weaving looms.

flax in the fieldAdvantages:

Linen does have some advantages over luxury cotton such as Egyptian and Pima brands.

It is softer to the touch and has a unique feel of its own. It is also lint free which is ideal for making the finest bed linen.

The fibres are resistant to most creasing issues yet the natural unprocessed look adds to its vintage appeal.

Washed linen is a technique that is used to make a new fabric look lived in, just like Levi’s do with their jeans.

thread-countThread Count:

Egyptian cotton yarns are now spun to increasingly finer and finer yarns, originally back in the 70’s and even the early 80’s if you slept on a fabric with 200 threads per square inch you would have been sleeping in luxury.

This was a high priced and very expensive fabric, super soft and smooth with a crisp cool feel. They even gave it a special name all of its own – Percale.

The term “Percale” became the industry standard for any fabric that had a minimum weave or thread count of 200. Nowadays this is still deemed to be a luxury fabric but it is more often associated with anything over 400, 600 or 1000 thread count.

Linen on the other hand cannot be woven anywhere near as fine, the yarns are still quite thick and chunky and have a more traditional feel. This is much preferred by some users as the yarns are very absorbent and are better in warmer countries such as the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern States. Linen is still one the more preferred fabrics in Egypt over more western style weaves we prefer like sateen and percale.

wash-care-symbolsCaring For Your bed Linen:

One of the most important factors when choosing between the two is if you can wash your sheets on a low temperature and line dry the sheets, then linen will give you years and years of use with no issues at all.

Egyptian cotton on the other hand can be tumble dried on a low setting, much better for today’s fast paced lifestyles or loft living where a line is just not practical.

Blends of Egyptian cotton and linen do exist, Peter Reed produce of the finest ranges in the UK.

Their Linen Union range is woven from two superior grades of fabric to produce a unique quality that has to be slept on to truly appreciate what both fabrics can offer.


The fact that you are reading this post suggests that you are keen to get the best night’s sleep you can. Both fabrics offer superior levels of comfort and quality. In our opinion you can buy Egyptian cotton on a varying budget these days and still get a good quality product that will last for many years.

Linen, on the other hand, cannot not be bought with price as the primary factor. Cheap linen is false economy. The fibres will become brittle and will not last very long under normal domestic use. Modern washing machines will just snap them in a short space of time leaving the fabric looking like an old potato sack in appearance.

  • Both cotton and linen are vegetable fibres though coming from different plants.
  • While cotton comes from the cotton plant, linen is obtained from the flax plant.
  • Linen is finer and has a more unique texture
  • Linen requires more ironing and is more prone to creasing than cotton
  • Cotton is more popular for bed linen purposes
  • Linen is more expensive than cotton