Cotton, linen, and silk sheets are highly regarded as the choicest in the bedding market.
So what happens when you are forced to choose one out of the three fabrics? Why would you favour cotton sheets, silk sheets or linen sheets?
To help you solve this dilemma, we will take a closer look at each of these fabrics to discover their strengths and weaknesses. Only then can we conclude on which is the best; cotton, linen, or silk sheets.
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
What Are Cotton Sheets?
Cotton is harvested from the cotton plant. Mature, soft, fluffy cotton bolls are harvested and spun into yarn or thread. The cotton yarns are then used to make natural, soft, and breathable bed sheets among other textiles.
Watch this video to learn the steps used to take cotton from farm to fabric.
Benefits of Cotton Sheets
he big question is: Why would you choose cotton sheets over linen or silk ones? Here are a few reasons to justify your choice of cotton sheets.
1. Cotton Sheets Don’t Pill
Pills are pesky balls of tangled fibres that pop up on your bed sheets when the fabric rubs against itself, your body, or another material. They are unsightly, uncomfortable, and associated with low-quality fabrics that comprise of short fibres.
Cotton sheets don’t pile. They remain smooth and crisp regardless of how many times they encounter friction.
2. Cotton Sheets are Breathable
Cotton sheets absorb heat from your body to keep you cool and dry throughout the night. In the summertime, cotton sheets will keep you cool. On cold winter nights, they will absorb your body heat to keep you warm and comfortable. With cotton sheets, you will hardly wake up drenched in sweat.
3. Cotton Sheets Are Soft on Your Skin
Some sheets irritate your skin, but not cotton sheets. They are gentle and soft to sleep on.
4. Cotton Sheets Last Longer
If you are running a commercial accommodation establishment, cotton sheets will save you money. Although they are pricier compared to synthetic alternatives, cotton sheets will last longer despite constant use and laundering.
5. Cotton Sheets Require Low Maintenance
Cotton sheets don’t require elaborate care and maintenance like silk sheets. You only need to observe these basics:
- Machine wash cotton sheets at 40°C
- Tumble dry (on low heat to avoid excessive shrinkage) with cooling down period
- Take the sheets out of the dryer shortly after the cycle is completed
- Fold, lay flat, and iron the sheets whilst still damp
- Alternatively, hang the bed linen to drip dry, which results in minimum creasing
- Do not mix wash with other fibres like acrylic or polycotton, as it may result in pilling of the cotton sheets
Please note these are general guidelines for cotton care. Always double-check against the care instructions on your bed sheet label.
Australian Linen Supply stocks strong, durable cotton sheets. They have been supplying the whole of Australia with hotel quality sheets among other accommodation linen since 1970.
Here are some hand-picked cotton sheets worth checking out.
Downsides of Cotton Sheets
- Stain easily
- Shrink when wet
- Prone to creasing
- Take longer to dry due to their absorbency nature
- Susceptible to mildew attack, especially when left damp
What Are Linen Sheets?
Linen fabric is made from the cellulose fibres that grow inside the stalks of the flax plant.
The delicate flax plant has been around for thousands of years. Besides making linen fabric, other flax by-products include:
- Cattle feed
This diagram shows the journey from flax to linen. Take a look.
Image from: Blake and taylor
Benefits of Linen Sheets
Could linen be your ultimate material for sheeting? Many 5-star hotels, celebrities and cosy bed enthusiasts swear by linen sheets. Let’s see what these sheets have to offer you.
- Get softer and more comfortable with each wash
- Are antistatic, lint-free and dirt repellent
- Retain their shape well; are naturally elastic
- Remain in good condition for many years; with proper care, your linen sheets can last a decade
- Are resistant to bacteria, fungus, dust mites
- Are biodegradable and recyclable; a friendly choice for our environment
- Are hypoallergenic: an excellent choice for everyone including those with sensitive skin or skin disorders
- Are temperature-regulating; depending on the season, they keep you warm or cool without overheating
- Dry quickly; they can hold up to 20 times their weight in moisture, thus the ideal material for an uninterrupted, clean sleep
Disadvantages of Linen Sheets
Linen Disadvantage #1: Creases a lot. Even after ironing, your linen sheets can still crumple when you sleep on them.
Linen Disadvantage #2: Takes longer to feel soft and smooth. You have to wash your linen sheets on several occasions before they soften.
Linen Disadvantage #3: Substantially expensive. If you are on a budget, you may want to consider alternative bed sheets.
Linen Disadvantage #4: Difficult to iron. Dry linen sheets take a longer time to iron and its results may not be ideal. Hack: Slightly dampen the sheets before ironing.
What Are Silk Sheets?
Silk is harvested from the silkworm through an elaborate and time-consuming process. This is one of the reasons why pure silk sheets come with a high price tag.
Still, there are varieties of silk bearing different qualities. Let’s take a quick look at them:
Charmeuse Silk: lightweight silk with natural elasticity and made from farmed silkworms. The front of the fabric has a satin sheen to it while the back has a dull finish.
Mulberry Silk: It’s the highest quality of silk produced by the Bombyx mori silkworm. The worm feeds on a very strict diet: the leaves of the mulberry tree.
Tussah Silk: It’s made from wild silkworms which haven't been bred. The silk fabric is not as soft and durable as that of cultivated silkworms.
Habotai Silk: Less expensive, less durable silk. This type of silk is often “washed” with sand to make it feel as soft as charmeuse. The washing process destroys the fibre, which also reduces its durability.
Duppoini Silk: This is strong, lustrous, and coarse silk that’s not ideal for bedding. It’s made from irregular cocoons that are not of the same quality you would find in charmeuse silk.
Watch this interesting video to learn how silk is made:
Benefits of Silk Sheets
Silk is the most luxurious fabric.
Silk bears the following benefits:
- Breathable and comfortable: wicks away moisture from your body, leaving you cool and comfortable all night long. If you suffer from hot flashes and hot sweats, use silk bed sheets, duvets, and pillows.
- Chemical-free and hypoallergenic: Silkworms eat leaves that have no exposure to chemicals, plus silk contains proteins and amino acids that are skin-friendly.
- Stronger and better: your sheets are less prone to snags, tears, and pulls, which is common with linen and synthetic fabrics.
- Hair-friendly: Silky soft sheets let your hair glide over rather than rub against them. In the morning, you’ll find your hair in good shape with no split ends in the long-run.
Downsides of Silk Sheets
- Silk sheets require extra care and gentle washing
- Authentic silk sheets are expensive (but worth the price)
In summary: Cotton vs. Linen vs. Silk Sheets
The truth is that each of these fabrics has good characteristics and can make a good addition to your bed.
However, the same sheets have their disadvantages. Depending on your preferences, you may find each of the sheets ideal or otherwise.
Here’s a quick recap:
|Material||Natural vegetable fibre||Natural Vegetable fibre||Natural animal fibre|
|Texture and Feel||Soft and smooth||Stiff and rough||Silky smooth|
|Wrinkling||Slightly wrinkles||Prone to wrinkle||Hardly wrinkles|
|Washing||Hot water shrinks and fades them||Soften with each wash||Delicate; hand wash or machine wash|
|Durability||Lasts longer||Lasts longer||Lasts longer|
|Cost||Relatively Affordable||Expensive||Very Expensive|
Which Are the Best Kind of Sheets to Buy?
Buy silk sheets when you have sufficient money to spend on luxurious bedding. They require delicate care and won’t last as long as the rest.
Buy linen sheets, which are relatively expensive, when you are out to get the most durable bed sheet option.
Buy cotton sheets when you are looking for affordable sheets for commercial or domestic use. They are soft, smooth, crisp and readily available.
At Australian Linen Supply, we stock linen for every occasion. That means we have your favourite cotton sheets in-store today. Go ahead and shop with us now. We deliver all over Australia.
You may also like:
- How to Buy the Best Hotel-Quality Sheets
- How to Take Care of Your Hotel Sheets
- 6 Guaranteed Hacks to Warm a Motel Room Cheaply