Best Linen Sheets
Linen is a popular bedding material for several reasons. Made from fibers of the flax plant, linen offers natural breathability and moisture-wicking properties, making it ideal for warmer temperatures. Linen can also be quite durable. While the fabric has an initially crisp feel, it will gradually soften with subsequent washes and holds up very well with minimal pilling. Unlike other bedding materials, linen is also hypoallergenic and resistant to dirt. It is eco-friendly, as well, since flax requires very little irrigation and linen processing expends a low amount of energy.
Linen sheets are fairly expensive compared to bedding products made from other materials such as cotton or polyester. For a high-quality linen set in a queen size, you should expect to pay at least $250. However, the durability and performance of linen sheets makes them a worthwhile investment for many sleepers – especially those who prefer a crisper feel for their bedding.
Below, you’ll find our top eight picks for the best luxury linen sheets and pillowcases sold today. We’ve made these selections after reading reviews from verified owners and testing them firsthand. This guide also discusses how linen bedding is produced, what these items feel like, how much they cost, and where you can find them. Read on to learn more.
What is Linen?
Linen is a textile material derived from cellulose fibers of the flax plant (also known as linseed). Considered one of the world’s oldest fabrics, the production of linen dates back to prehistoric times. Today, linen is used to make a wide range of products, including garments, upholstery, tablecloths, and towels. It is also used to produce sheets and pillowcases, and is considered a more breathable alternative to cotton and polyester.
To produce linen, flax fibers are separated from the plant and spun into fine yarns, which can be woven or knit (most sheets and pillowcases are woven). Linen is commonly harvested by hand, a technique that often results in a highly durable material.
Linen offers a distinctly crisp hand-feel. Some sleepers love the texture of linen, while others find it a bit too coarse and scratchy. Linen is exceptionally breathable, as well, making it well-suited to warmer temperatures.
Interested in purchasing a linen sheet set? Check out our buyer’s guide below for more information about how much these items cost and what to look for when buying a new set.
How to Choose Linen Sheets
As with other bedding products, choosing a linen sheet set requires consideration and research on your part. We recommend comparison shopping with different brands and collections to get an idea about expected prices, available sizes and styles, and other important details. In the next section, we’ll cover the most important factors to take into account when shopping for a new linen set.
What to Consider When Buying Linen Sheets
Our most important considerations for linen sheet shoppers are outlined below. Keep in mind that a high price-point does not always equate high quality. Some luxury bedding brands use misleading jargon to market their products. While many high-end linen sets are a worthwhile investment due to their durability, breathability, and comfort, some are simply overpriced and may not perform well over time.
- Feel: Linen feels very crisp and smooth at first, but the material will soften over time with subsequent laundry cycles. Some linen bedding feels initially softer due to certain manufacturing techniques, such as garment-washing or stone-washing. Linen blended with other fabrics like cotton or rayon from bamboo also tends to be softer than pure linen.
- Fit: When browsing linen sheet sets, be sure to check the “pocket depth” measurement of the fitted sheet. This figure refers to how far the elasticated corners will stretch, and should accommodate the thickness of your mattress. For example, a fitted sheet with a 12-inch pocket depth won’t be deep enough for a 13-inch mattress. Also keep in mind that linen may shrink in the wash – though this won’t be an issue if you buy pre-washed linen.
- Price: High-quality linen sets typically cost $200 or more in any size. For a queen size set, expect to pay between $300 and $600. More affordable linen sets are also available, but they may not meet the same standards for quality and durability. Blended linen usually costs less than pure linen.
- Weight: The weight of linen sheets is expressed in grams per square meter, or GSM. According to general consensus among sleepers and sleep experts, the ideal GSM for linen sheets falls between 170 and 190. Heavier linen sheets provide more insulation during colder times of the year, but they may feel excessively warm when the temperatures rise. Lighter linen sheets are optimal for warmer weather but may feel too thin in colder climates.
- Design, Color, and Pattern: Compared to sheet sets made from other fabrics, you may find a more limited color and pattern selection for linen items. Neutral and earth tones, as well as whites and off-whites, are most common. These shades complement most bedroom decors, but if you prefer more vibrant colors and patterns, then you may want to consider another bedding material.
- Breathability: Breathability is considered one of linen’s biggest strengths. The material is very airy and light, making it ideal for sleep during hotter times of the year. At the same time, most linen sheets and pillowcases offer decent warmth and insulation from the cold.
- Durability: Linen is quite durable, especially if the fabric comes from hand-harvested fibers. That said, linen tends to deteriorate over time if you wash and dry it in a machine too frequently. Many manufacturers recommend line-drying to preserve the material better. A higher GSM measurement may indicate the linen is more durable.
- Ease of Care: Most linen sheets and pillowcases can be washed and dried in any household machine, though you should not wash these items too frequently; otherwise they will deteriorate more quickly. Most manufacturers discourage the use of chlorine bleach or fabric softener.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Linen Sheets?
Natural breathability and durability are considered two of linen’s biggest strengths. However, there are also some disadvantages associated with linen, such as above-average pricing and excessive wrinkles. In the table below, we’ll break down linen’s most notable pros and cons.
Who is Best Suited to Linen Sheets?
Linen sheets are ideal for people who normally sleep hot. Lightweight and breathable, the material does not trap body heat and helps you stay cool. Linen also has natural moisture-wicking properties to keep you dry. However, linen also provides good warmth and insulation when needed.
The feel of linen is best described as crisp, light, and somewhat waxy. People who prefer a coarser hand-feel for their sheets and pillowcases will probably feel very comfortable with linen bedding. On the other hand, you may find linen feels too rough and scratchy. If this is the case, we recommend softer bedding materials such as cotton, Tencel lyocell, and rayon from bamboo.
One of the biggest drawbacks about linen bedding is the sticker price. The average queen size linen sheet set costs about $250 to $400, and you’ll probably pay more for items made from organic linen. If these costs are outside your shopping budget, you may be able to find a linen blend set that is more affordable, but you may not feel the same crispness and breathability you’d get from pure linen items.
What Is the Ideal Thread Count for Linen Sheets?
The ideal thread count for linen is between 80 and 120. However, judging the thread count of linen can be a bit tricky. With other materials like cotton or silk, a higher thread count often corresponds to better quality. The opposite is true for linen because the fibers are thicker and more difficult to weave together. If the thread count is too high, the material will be bulky and not particularly breathable. Bottom line: be wary of any manufacturer or seller that touts a “high thread count” for their linen sheet set.
Many manufacturers of linen bedding do not list a thread count at all. Instead, they use grams per square meter, or GSM, to describe the material’s quality. The optimal GSM is 170 to 190, indicating a medium weight of about 0.3 to 0.4 pounds. These sheets and pillowcases will drape comfortably without feeling too heavy or hot. If you don’t see GSM listed on the website of a linen sheet set you’d like to buy, reach out to customer service.
More Frequently Asked Questions About Linen Sheets
What is the typical price range for linen sheets?
For a queen size linen sheet set, the average shopper will pay $250 to $400. The sticker price of a linen sheet set depends on whether the items are made from pure linen or a linen blend. The latter is usually more affordable. Linen sets priced below $250 are widely available, but quality is questionable in some cases. Additionally, the components of a sheet set can also drive up the price tag. A flat sheet, fitted sheet, and one to two pillowcases is considered standard, but some collections include other items such as duvet covers and pillow shams.
How long do linen sheets last?
With proper use and care, a linen sheet set can last years – even decades in some cases. The trick to preserving linen bedding items is to clean them sparingly. Avoid using chlorine bleach and other chemicals during the wash cycle, and consider drying the linen on a line rather than in a machine. Excessive washing can cause linen to develop holes and deteriorate more quickly.
How do I make my linen sheets feel softer?
High-quality linen will become softer over time with repeated wash cycles, but it will still retain its naturally crisp texture. If you prefer softness over crispness for your sheets and pillowcases, you may want to purchase a set made of linen that has been garment-washed or stone-washed during production. These techniques give the fabric a softer hand feel.
How do I wash and care for linen sheets?
Always defer to the care tag on your linen bedding when it comes to washing and drying these items. In most cases, you’ll be able to clean these sheets and pillowcases in any household machine. Machine washing in warm or cold water and tumble drying on low is usually recommended, and you should never use bleach or laundry additives. You should also wash linen bedding separately from other garments and items. Hot-ironing can damage linen, so use a warm iron setting when removing wrinkles. Linen is also very absorbent, so be sure to spot-clean stains and spills as quickly as possible.
Are luxury linen sheets worth the price?
You’ll probably pay at least $200 for a high-quality linen sheet set – and in some cases, the sticker price will be double or even triple this amount. The good news is that linen sheets are exceptionally durable as long as you wash and dry them infrequently. So while linen sheets and pillowcases may be significant up-front investments, you’ll be able to enjoy them for many years.