The Best Linen Sheets Are the Epitome of Unfussy Luxury
These sets get softer with every wash.
Updated Jan 4, 2023 12:06 PM
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There are good reasons that we’re obsessed with linen sheets: They’ll keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter; they’re moisture wicking; and they get softer with each wash—plus they’re twice as strong as cotton sheets, hypoallergenic, dirt- and lint-resistant, and eco-friendly (since flax, the crop linen is made from, requires little water and few pesticides to grow and is renewable). The best linen sheets have an almost indescribable tactile feel and embody a laid-back aesthetic. After all, people have been using the material for bedding since the time of ancient Egypt.
But why are linen sheets generally more expensive than cotton ones? And how do you know which bedding brand is the right one to invest in? Read on for answers to these and any other questions you’ve ever had about linen—plus the best picks, from a swoon-worthy budget option to sets finished in chic colors and patterns.
- Best overall: Cultiver Linen Sheets
- Best value: Bedsure Linen Sheets Set
- Best organic: Coyuchi Organic Relaxed Linen Sheets
- Best lightweight linen: Brooklinen Linen Core Sheet Set
- Best heavyweight linen: Linoto Linen Sheet Set
- Best colors: Bed Threads Flax Linen Sheet Set
- Best splurge: Matteo Vintage Linen
Best Overall: Cultiver Linen Sheets
Cultiver has swiftly become one of our top go-tos for linen everything—table runners, robes, napkins, you name it. The Aussie brand’s bedding is no exception; it was the best thing our style editor bought last year, and other editors have since invested. Products from Cultiver arrive fully packaged in cardboard (easy recycling), and sheet sets come in linen drawstring bags that are, honestly, a good way to wrap up host gifts. Supple and breathable straightaway, these sheets—made in Portugal and China from 100% Belgian and French flax—only soften as they are washed.
Sizing ranges from twin to California king (there’s no full); some sizes are in and out of stock in different colors. But we love the extra-deep pockets that, when tested, generously fit around an 11.5-inch-tall king mattress with a 3-inch-tall mattress topper. These linen sheets clock in at 165 grams per square meter (GSM), just slightly lighter than what’s considered medium weight, and what the brand considers optimum for life span and comfort. When slept on, we found the fabric to gently graze or comfortably drape versus stiffly stay put or suffocate. Cool to the touch, it has kept us insulated throughout the night without things getting too steamy. Set prices (which includes a flat sheet, fitted sheet, and two envelope pillowcases) range from $325 to $420, and this puts the brand squarely in the middle between entry level and higher end where linen is concerned. Plus Cultiver’s production partners are Oeko-Tex certified.
Best Value: Bedsure Linen Sheets Set
Yes, fine linen is expensive, but there are high-quality and long-lasting picks out there if you’re on a budget or want to test out the feel before splurging. Bedsure’s linen set is one of those options. The flax is sourced from France, and the sheets are Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified and processed using nontoxic and natural dyes. They’re also stonewashed (exactly what it sounds like) for supreme softness and will only continue to get more supple with each wash. We found that the material has an excellent drape, similar to some of the pricier brands. And as with all linen, it has excellent breathability and moisture-wicking properties to make sure you stay comfortable all night.
Each set comes with a flat sheet, fitted sheet, and two pillowcases and is available in four colors and sizes. Bedsure’s collection is an excellent way to sample great linen at a friendly price point—and comes recommended with more than 400 positive reviews. With that, we’d even suggest getting two colors so you can curate your bedscape—perhaps pure white and gray-blue.
Best Organic: Coyuchi Organic Relaxed Linen Sheets
If you’re looking for a heavier-weight linen from a company that’s completely committed to sustainability, check out Coyuchi’s Organic Relaxed Linen Sheets, another designer favorite. In fact, we first spotted these in Athena Calderone’s master bedroom and immediately went down the rabbit hole of the Northern California brand’s extensive literature on organic materials, including why it is GOTS and Fair Trade certified as well as Made Safe.
The organic linen bedding, however, is extra-special, as organic flax makes up only 1% of the crop’s already small market, according to the brand. The flax is sourced from the Saint-Pierre-le-Viger region of Normandy in northern France, and the sheets are woven in Portugal and have a heavier weight at 185 GSM. “We researched vintage linen to create an heirloom weight,” explains Whitney Thornburg, Coyuchi’s design director.
And it shows. On our bed and against our skin, the material felt sturdy, soft, and comforting and had an elegance to it that draped beautifully. “It has a great natural look,” says interior designer Chiara de Rege, who favors Coyuchi’s linens for her more relaxed interiors.
Best Lightweight Linen: Brooklinen Linen Core Sheet Set
With its almost gauzelike feel, Brooklinen’s Linen Core Sheet Set is the perfect choice if you like “light” bedding. The 145 GSM fabric is stonewashed (which by now you know means it’ll be supersoft right out of the bag), and our set arrived in cotton cases with pretty envelope closures. Made from Belgian and French flax and washed and dyed in small batches, the sheets are Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified and grazed our skin in the most comfortable way due to their light weight.
We particularly like the limited-edition caramel stripe colorway, a departure from solid colors that instantly elevates an otherwise neutral bedroom. We tried ours under three different duvets in ivory, beige, and dusty pink, and the thick taupe stripes looked equally regal under all, lending the flexibility to mix and match.
Available in four sizes, five core colors, and six limited-edition hues—including an oversize blue gingham print—and praised by thousands of happy customers, these sheets offer an airy update on a classic.
Best Heavyweight Linen: Linoto 100 Percent Linen Sheet Set
When Jason Evege, the founder of Linoto, shared that the uniquely heavy weight of these ivory sheets reminds him of the heirloom linen that you’re more likely to find in Europe, we immediately got excited. Ours arrived in an uncharacteristically big box for bedsheets, and we were unprepared for the small workout of carrying it up the stairs. These sheets are heavy. Our set was neatly folded, laundered, pressed, wrapped in brown paper, and tied with twine—a service Linoto does for all its customers so you don’t have to wash your sheets before using them. “Linoto is wonderful for its high-quality selection,” says interior stylist and author Emily Henderson.
The sheets are a weighty 210 GSM, made with flax sourced from Italy, and hand-finished in Westchester, New York. Sleeping in them was a luxurious and simultaneously therapeutic experience: They almost felt like a weighted blanket. Smooth and stiff—which Evege told us is common in new, high-quality linen—wrinkled significantly less than lower GSM linen, and hugged our bed, as well as our bodies, perfectly. While we did test these in the summer (and had no overheating issues), we couldn’t help but dream about how cozy and cocooning they’d feel in the wintertime. “Linen enthusiasts often love heavier weights,” says Evege. But he acknowledges that his customers live in all sorts of climates, and the brand also comes in lighter weights.
Linoto offers a wide variety of colors, such as copper plum, a deep purple, and Malbec, a deep berry. And it carries an astonishing 10 sizes, from twin XL and Olympic queen to European king and split king. Plus a bonus: Our king sheet set came with four pillowcases instead of the typical two.
Best Colors: Bed Threads 100 Percent Flax Linen Sheet Set
A favorite of Domino editors (and a winner in our Good Design Awards), Bed Threads’s linen sheet set is made from French flax and comes in 23 colorways, including the chic olive stripe and a pretty light pink called rosewater. Editors report these sheets get softer with each wash, drape and layer nicely, and are slightly thicker than a lot of the other popular brands—and the colors don’t fade either.
But the best part of Bed Threads’s offerings is that you can build a custom sheet set. The Build Your Own Bundle tool lets you play around with different pairings and shows you what the final set will look like with a 3D rotating mock-up. This isn’t a feature we’ve seen from other brands, and it allows anyone design minded to create something completely bespoke with ease. But like a lot of good things, there’s a downside, as so many options and possible combinations can make it hard to decide—or to stop shopping!
Best Splurge: Matteo Vintage Linen
Matteo started when founder Matt Lenoci was strolling through a flea market in Europe and noticed vintage linen sheets for sale. When he went home to Los Angeles, he thought about how to re-create this luxury Stateside, and so the brand was born. Now top interior designers—from Jessica Helgerson to Colin King—cite Matteo’s linen offerings among their favorites. The brand, which had a partnership with Restoration Hardware, has become a cult favorite for those in the know (and those who prioritize good sleep). “Matteo is premium quality,” says King—think: comfy and lived-in.
When our bedding arrived, folded and in a cloth bag, we admired the feel: soft but textured and the perfect medium weight for any type of sleeper or weather. Matteo takes great care to achieve this. The high-quality flax is sourced from all over the world, and the linens are hand-cut and -sewn in the brand’s L.A. factory. When you purchase a sheet set, the size is pulled from inventory and then batch-dyed to maintain color consistency across the set. The sheets are washed multiple times, sometimes with abrasive agents like pumice stones, in order to break down the fibers for maximum color absorbency and an addictively sumptuous feel. Sleeping on the sheets is as great as everyone told us it would be, and when we awoke, we felt as if we had just slept in a five-star hotel: rested, refreshed, and lucky.
Available in six sizes (including twin XL and California king) and seven neutral hues (with more on the way before the end of the year), each set comes with a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and two pillowcases. The brand also offers variations on its vintage linen sheets (like ruffles and lace) and has coordinating duvets, shams, tablecloths, and even napkins. Trust us: Once you try Matteo, you’ll want to get your hands on every type of vintage linen it offers—it’s just that good.
On Our Radar
How We Chose These Products
A good sheet set is to great sleep like good cookware is to great food—you need quality stuff to really get it right. Writer Sade Strehlke as well as Domino editors have thoughtfully tested top linen sheets on the market to give you an honest opinion on the best sets. We took into account material quality, reviews, brand reputation, price point, and style—not to mention care. We’re always on the lookout for new or noteworthy products, and promise to update our list when something stands out.
Our Shopping Checklist
Linen sheets are made from the flax plant, which grows best along moving bodies of water such as rivers and streams, explains Logan Foley, managing editor of the Sleep Foundation. “The best-quality linen is said to come from Belgium, specifically along the River Lys,” says Foley. Irish and French linen is also highly prized, and China, too, is a major textile manufacturer and exporter.
Once the crop is harvested, the flax plant fibers are spun into yarn, which is then woven into linen fabric. A lot of times, high-quality linen is harvested by hand, which adds to the price as this can be a time-intensive process, says Foley. At the same time, however, flax requires little irrigation or water to grow and few pesticides, so it’s naturally more environmentally friendly than cotton. It’s also renewable (it can be replanted over and over again) and very strong due to the high tensile strength of the flax plant’s fibers, explains Dr. Erum Ilyas of Schweiger Dermatology Group. Linen fabric also absorbs 20% of its water weight before feeling damp, which means it’s a great option if you sleep hot, perspire at night, or live in a warm environment.
Unlike cotton sheets, linen doesn’t come in various weaves, such as percale, sateen, or flannel. “You can get linen from different places around the world, with different weights and characteristics, but for the most part they’re all of the same [weave],” says Foley. Indeed, the biggest difference we found between different linen materials was the quality of the flax, the craftsmanship, and the weight.
Weight when talking about linen sheets is akin to thread count when talking about cotton sheets. It’s a key—but not the only—metric to characterize the material. “Linen is a thicker and bulkier yarn; thus, it simply can’t have a high thread count,” says Ilyas.
Instead, linen is quantified by grams per square meter (GSM). And just as thread count is calculated by cutting 1 square inch of the fabric and counting the threads present, GSM is measured as the weight (in grams) of a square meter of the fabric. The heavier the weight, the denser and warmer the fabric will feel. The lighter the weight, the lighter and cooler it’ll feel. Most bedding experts agree that a good medium-weight linen is anything from 170 to 190 GSM, says Foley, which means that it weighs about 170 to 190 grams per square meter.
We tried linen sheets that had both lower and higher GSMs and were not disappointed. Ultimately, it’s about personal preference. Our only forewarning is that a lighter weight might not last as long, so if you do go for a lower GSM or a lightweight option, be very gentle with the bedding when laundering.
Always read the care instructions to be sure, but generally linen sheets should be cared for the same way as all sheets: washing in cold or warm water and drying on a low heat setting or on a line. “I honestly toss them in the wash and the dryer,” says King. As with all textiles, you should also steer clear of fabric softeners and dryer sheets, which will coat your bedding with chemicals that can irritate your skin and break down the fabric’s integrity over time. Instead opt for dryer balls to speed up drying time. If you love laundry that has a slight scent once it’s done, you can even add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the dryer balls. As for trying to iron out the creases that linen is known for, Henderson says don’t bother: “Linen is meant to have some character, so don’t worry about wrinkling.”
Q: Are linen sheets scratchy?
As mentioned above, the feel of linen is almost ineffable. “For some reason it’s hard to describe,” says Henderson. “It’s soft but not silky and slightly rough, but in a textured way.”
True, pure linen sheets are not soft at first, but they do soften substantially with use, especially after a year or two. “They’re made in a way that ages well,” adds King. That’s why you hear of linen being passed down over generations: It’s incredibly durable and stable if cared for correctly.
Q: How long do linen sheets last?
Linen sheets can last for years if cared for correctly. Our top recommendation is to always consult the manufacturer’s instructions before washing and drying, but we’d also suggest opting for dryer balls over other methods to help linen retain its fabric structure.