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6 Things to Know if You’re Switching to Linen Sheets

P.S. Bleach is not your friend.

February  3, 2020
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Sleep sure has been getting a lot of attention lately. Perhaps it’s because we all need more of it—we know!—and so we’ve brushed up on the best ways to wind down and the most sleep-inducing styles for bedrooms. And yet, sitting beside all of this information is one simple truth: Good bedding is at the heart of restful slumber. When a bed is too comfortable to resist, we probably won’t try.

If you’ve been on the hunt for sheets that lend themselves to a solid eight hours, linen may have crossed your mind. “Linen is one of the most durable and sustainable fibers in the world. It's also one of the oldest in history,” Paul Denoly, cofounder of Hawkins New York, says.

In order to ensure that linen bedding is right for your particular sleep patterns, Denoly shares his six tips on everything you need to know about buying, and taking care of, this fabric. “One of the best features of linen is it gets better with use—as long as it's cared for properly.” Given his advice, you’ll be able to pick out and care for linen sheets with ease, and hopefully get the thing you really want: more sleep.

Don’t worry about thread count

“Thread count does not apply to linen sheeting, it's more about the weight of the linen,” he notes, meaning that linen is made of a thicker fiber than cotton and therefore has more weight. Belgian linen, for instance, usually comes in heavier than say, European linen or Chambray linen. “Where the linen is grown makes a big difference in quality. For Hawkins, we’ve chosen Belgian linen because it has the optimal growing conditions for flax—no other part of the world offers a more idyllic climate and better harvesting conditions.”

It’s ideal for year-round Zzzs

“Linen is often associated as a summer fabric because of its breathability, but linen sheets actually offer as much warmth in the winter as they do comfort in the summer,” Denoly says. That’s because linen naturally regulates body temperature, too, so you won’t overheat.

Allergies, be gone

“Linen is hypo-allergenic and can kill dust mites due to its breathability,” he adds. “That being said, the detergent used can affect the properties of the sheets—so always choose a gentle detergent. The breathability of linen can whisk moisture away which prevents some skin irritations, too.”

Follow certain rules on laundry day

“Always separate your sheets from other fabrics to ensure that they’re completely clean and maintain their color,” he continues. “Linen bedding should be washed using the gentle cycle with a gentle detergent, and without fabric softeners. If you are using a top-loading washing machine, be sure to wrap the sheets around the agitator to keep from tearing. Tumble dry on low, and pop in dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.”

Embrace the all-natural creases

If you want perfectly crisp, wrinkle-free sheets, linen may not be for you. Still, there are ways to get most of the rumples out. “If you prefer crisper sheets, iron them using the ‘hot heat’ setting while the sheets are slightly damp,” Denoly adds. In fact, it's generally better to take linen out before it dries completely or it may become too stiff.

Do not use bleach, ever

“Bleach deteriorates the fibers and can drastically shorten the life of your sheets,” Denoly says. “But if you have the option to line-dry sheets, I recommend it. The sun helps to bleach linen naturally, especially white linen.”

More from Food52

Do you have any tips for taking care of linen bedding? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Marilyn Taylor
    Marilyn Taylor
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Kelly Dawson

Written by: Kelly Dawson

Writer and Editor


Marilyn T. February 28, 2020
I love my linen sheets - all year. They're almost as cozy as flannel in the winter. I keep my pillow cases wrinkle-free by tumbling them in the dryer for 4 to 5 minutes on low or no heat, and then hanging them to dry the rest of the way. They look amazing! I also wash linen sheets in hot water on the normal setting - I've read that linen is one of the strongest fabrics. No issues in the 3 years I've been using them.
Susanna February 27, 2020
I, too, sleep on linen sheets both summer and winter. I have been washing them on cold on a normal cycle but will try the gentle cycle—was the recommended temperature mentioned? One thing I have found is that my linen sheets produce a huge (to the point where I could almost weave fabric from the lint!) amount of lint on the screen in the dryer, which makes me wonder how long they will last without becomIng threadbare.
Claudia T. February 27, 2020
That's interesting, my linen duvet cover made some lint the first time I washed it, but ever since, I've been surprised how little lint it's made in the dryer!
Jodi February 27, 2020
I love, love, love my linen sheets. I switched from cotton to linen 4 years ago and have never looked back. I use them year-round; cool in the summer and warm in the winter. I love them so much I bought extra sheets to use as curtains in my bedroom. And, Mabel Jo, my beagle is allergic to cotton, but not to linen. I bought extra sheets and had dog bed covers made. They wash and wear very well and get softer and more beautiful as they age.
Claudia T. February 26, 2020
I just got a lovely linen duvet cover that isn't super "soft" but the rumpled feeling is so cozy. My spouse usually sleeps hot, very hot and sweaty, and im surprised how much they like is.