Summer is back on, and we've tested the best linen sheets to keep you cool

The team's been busy catching some z's so we can bring you our top picks of the best linen bedsheets.

best linen sheets
(Image credit: Bed Threads)

Luxurious and low-maintenance, it's no surprise that linen bedding is increasing in popularity. Switching up your bedding is one of the best ways to freshen up your space, and in the summer heat, linen bedding comes with the added benefit of being one of the most breathable options out there. 

This means you're a lot more likely to wake up feeling cool and refreshed, as opposed to tossing and turning in the night due to overheating. We've tested every set featured below through the summer months, which means this guide is coming to you from a group of very well-rested editors. 

We're still keen on cotton bedding, which is why many of the top picks in our best duvet cover guide are made of high thread count 100% cotton, but there's something particularly appealing about how low-maintenance linen bedding can be. 

Much like linen clothing, your sheets will only get softer over time when you opt for a linen option. It's a material that won't need ironing to look stylish, and whether you choose plain neutrals or a mix-and-match gingham or striped set, there's some real cottagecore joy in embracing that timeless linen look. 

If you've bought one of the best mattresses to help with your allergies, there's no point in dressing it up in bedding that's full of chemicals. Most of the options in our guide are made of flax, which is hypoallergenic and free from synthetic elements. This means you'll benefit from linen bedding if you've got particularly sensitive skin. 

How we test the best linen bedding

As part of our commitment to how we test products at Ideal Home, we reviewed each and every one of these sets at home over the course of a few weeks. Yes, that does mean we technically got to sleep as part of our job. 

When choosing the bedding to test, we opted for market-leading brands such as Bed Threads and Piglet In Bed, and also made an effort to try out brands with interesting features such as Rise & Fall's grippy fitted sheets, or ettitude's blend of hemp and flax in its Linen+ range. 

We took into account how soft the bedding felt straight out of the box, as well as after a few washes, and we also used a smart air purifier when unboxing to detect any bedding that released chemicals when first used. We were pleased to find that the options in this guide were a lot lower in chemicals than bedding made from alternative materials. 

Another big thing we considered was how well the fitted sheets stayed on the bed, because as linen loosens up over time you'll often find that it pulls away from the corners, making it a pain to make the bed in the mornings. 

Millie Fender
Millie Fender

Millie has been reviewing products for Ideal Home for three years. Starting out as an e-commerce editor testing predominantly kitchen appliances, she now oversees all of the reviews that go up on our site. This means she's branched out into reviewing pillows, mattresses, and now bedding, too. 

Millie has been busy testing (ok, sleeping on) every brand in this guide, meaning she can compare between them in terms of comfort and long-term use. 

Is linen bedding better than cotton?

"Linen bedding is not necessarily better than cotton or vice versa. The best bed linen for you will be the bedding that gives you the best night's sleep" says Emily and Jonathan Attwood, founders of scooms. 

"Choose the best quality bedding that you can afford, and decide whether you like your bedding to feel smooth and silky like sateen cotton, cool and crisp like percale cotton, or cosy like linen. This will help you choose which bed linen fabric and weave will suit you best. 

When I spoke to Soak&Sleep, they told me "the truth about the difference between linen and cotton bedding is that it all comes down to personal preference.

"Linen is naturally temperature-regulating and breathable. Each fibre has a hollow core that wicks away moisture during balmy summer nights, or stores body heat and relays it back to you as the mercury drops, and if you didn’t know it: finding the perfect sleeping temperature is the absolute bedrock to getting a great night’s sleep. Linen fabrics are slubby with a super-soft texture that only gets better with time (we pre-wash ours to jump-start the snuggly softness).

"On the other hand, you have cotton. While also beautifully breathable, cotton has a smoother hand feel than linen since the yarns are spun much more finely. Keep in mind that weave plays a big part here too: percale weaves are smooth and crisp, and sateen weaves are smooth and silky. Egyptian cotton feels even better and is a worthwhile investment; the fibres are longer and stronger than regular cotton which makes the fabric feel softer, smoother, and last longer too. For a lot of our customers, nothing feels better than getting into bed each night under pure cotton sheets – but know this, linen-lovers will say the same about their preference too!"

What should I look out for?

Emily and Jonathan Attwood, founders of scooms, told me to "look out for accreditations such OEKO-Tex 100, certifying against harsh chemicals and toxins, and NoMite, certifying the bedding is suitable for dust mite allergy sufferers."

Why is linen bedding so expensive?

If you opt for a stylish brand, it's likely that you can price this into what you pay at checkout. With that said though, linen is a very expensive material to produce. Woven from the flax plant, it can be tricky to spin and is less widely grown around the world compared to cotton. 

Chris Tattersall, Sleep Expert and MD of Woolroom, comments "The higher cost associated with linen as a fabric is principally due to it being more difficult to harvest, and the slower production process. Flax plants, where linen comes from, are not easily grown, and it is often a time-consuming and laborious process that must take place in more specific conditions and climates, rather than cotton for example, which can grow almost anywhere. For instance, the plant must be completely uprooted rather than just cut to maximise the fibre that can be harvested.”

How often should I wash linen bedding?

Chris Tattersall, Sleep Expert and MD of Woolroom, told me: 

"When it comes to washing your bed sheets, this should be done once a week, as a result of them naturally collecting amounts sweat, dirt, dead skin, body oils, and dust mites traditionally found in the home – known to irritate skin and increase allergy symptoms. 

"Over summer you should clean your sheets more often as the heat can result in excess sweating over the course of the night. The wash itself should be a regular machine wash at 40 degrees."

scooms founders Emily and Jonathan also told me "Regularly washing your bed linen will help protect more expensive bedding items like your mattress, duvet and pillows from bodily secretions such as oils, fluids and hair. 

"If you don't wash your linen regularly then these bodily secretions become embedded in the fibres of your bedding which are then more difficult to get rid of and may cause health issues. For example, dust mite droppings can cause allergic rhinitis or breathing problems if you have asthma."

Millie Fender
Head of Reviews

Millie Fender is Head of Reviews at Ideal Home. She joined Ideal Home as an Ecommerce Editor in 2021, covering all of the site's small appliance and cookware shopping content. Millie formerly worked at Top Ten Reviews, another Future site, where she produced review and buying guides across a range of home products, from fridges to blenders. As Head of Reviews, her job is to test all the wackiest product launches, whether they're air fryers, bread makers, or juicers, and give you her honest experience.