Unmade beds are trending on Instagram. Influencers are grabbing the best linen sheets, throwing them over a low bed frame next to a (probably) Parisian balcony, and snapping shots of breezy bedroom scenes that say, “I’m a cool girl who doesn’t tuck her sheets in.” The slightly wrinkly bedding drapes artfully over the mattress, emoting an understated chicness that’s the home decor equivalent of perfectly (and painstakingly) tousled “I woke up like this” bedhead.
It’s no surprise age-old linens are making a comeback, considering how folks have minimized their makeup routines and stayed loyal to select loungewear pieces for over a year now. Everyone seems to be doing less, and linen sheets bring a sense of ease to any bedscape, not to mention supreme versatility for all seasons and every kind of sleeper.
Aside from the aesthetic points earned by chic hues and the relaxed quality of the sheets, linen bedding has other benefits that keep people coming back. We spoke to Geneviève Rosen Biller, cofounder of Aussie brand Bed Threads, and Ariel Kaye, CEO of Parachute, about the upsides of the material and why so many linen converts are vowing never to sleep on cotton blends again. Read their insights below, then browse our picks for the best linen sheets of 2021.
What are the benefits of linen sheets?
There’s a lot to love about linen, which has been around for centuries but has seen a recent rise in popularity—as proved by your social feed. The biggest selling point would have to be its versatility, as Biller points out. “Linen has grown in popularity over the last few years as it is the premier option for transseasonal comfort and a deep, uninterrupted sleep,” she tells Glamour. It’s a great pick for anyone who tends to sleep hot—but their partner won’t have to worry about freezing overnight, either. “Crafted from the flax plant, linen is loved and lauded for its temperature-regulating qualities,” she says. “It keeps you cool in summer, absorbing up to 20 times its weight, so you can say farewell to sweaty sleeps and overheating, and acts as an insulator in the cold, keeping you warm as the weather drops, while still remaining light and breathable so you don’t overheat.”
Kaye tells us, “Investing in quality linens is a must. It’s important to choose bedding that’s made without toxic chemicals and feels comfortable against your skin.” And planet-friendly people can feel good about going to bed with linen, considering its ability to degrade naturally, unlike other synthetic fabrics. “Pure linen—so, not a blend or synthetic—is a fully natural, and thus biodegradable, fiber,” says Biller. If you watched that Netflix Explained episode on the water crisis, find comfort in the fact that linen tends to require less water and fewer pesticides to cultivate than other fabrics. Speaking of sustainability, you’ll notice environmental certifications on some of our picks below. For more deets on OEKO-TEX certification, click here.
Lastly, durability is yet another benefit that validates the fabric’s higher price point. If cared for correctly, it can last longer than cotton, which might make you feel better about splurging on the trending bedding essential. “Linen is extremely durable, softens the more it’s used, and becomes more comfortable with every wash,” Biller says. “Plus, it’s antistatic, antibacterial, and moisture-wicking.”
What kind of sleeper should use them?
The best thing about linen bed sheets is that they’re for everyone. Whether you sleep hot or cold, they’ll get the job done, and they only soften over time. However, if you’re partial to that crisp, hotel bed vibe, these may not be for you—in which case you should check out our roundup of the best bed sheets to find your perfect match.
The structure of the linen fiber creates a billowy, rather than clingy effect, so if you tend to get sweaty in your sleep, you’re in luck: “Linen can absorb up to 20% of its own weight before feeling damp, so if you’re someone who tends to get hot while you sleep, you needn’t worry about sweaty sheets,” says Biller. “The fabric absorbs the air around it to dry out and cool down even further. They’re also great for those who get cold overnight as they act as an insulator to keep you warm and toasty.” Alexa, play “The Best of Both Worlds” by Hannah Montana.
Is thread count a thing when it comes to linen?
The idea of thread count can be murky in the world of sheets, especially since some brands mislead customers by priding themselves on high thread count while using low-quality textiles that are just layered on thick. Higher thread count doesn’t automatically mean higher quality, and (similar to bath towels) the linen world uses GSM or grams per square meter as a gauge instead, which measures the weight of the fabric.
According to Kaye, “Thread count is largely a marketing gimmick. Manufacturers will twist thin, low-grade cotton threads into a smaller space, and claim double, or even quadruple, the thread count. None of this makes the sheets any better quality—in fact, it ultimately takes away from their durability and softness.” Biller recommends a GSM rating of 170, “which is the optimum weight to be breathable and cool in the summer months, keep you warm in the winter months, as well as be durable enough to last for years to come.”
How do you care for linen sheets?
While they can last for years, linens are a bit more fickle when it comes to cleaning. You’ll want to handle with care and opt out of intense detergents and fabric softeners—and hang dry if at all possible. It’s not the end of the world if you have to send your linen sheets through a dryer cycle, but they’ll last even longer if you have a line you can hang them from outside (the dream).
“We recommend machine-washing your linen sheets in cold or lukewarm water on a gentle cycle with a mild liquid detergent,” says Biller. “Never dry-clean them and skip the fabric softeners too, as both can weaken the fibers. The beauty of linen is it actually looks better unironed as the creases gives your bedroom a relaxed and yet refined finish. Store your linen somewhere cool, dry, and with minimal light exposure, and never in plastic containers which can trap moisture and breed mildew.”
Ahead, shop the 19 best linen bed sheets around, and check out even more of our sleep essentials to create the bedroom oasis of your dreams. Happy snoozing!