What Are the Best Sheets for Summer? Linen vs. Cotton | Tuft & Needle

When the daily temperatures start to skyrocket, the last thing you need after a long, hot day is sweaty, stuffy bedding. Rolling up that fluffy duvet for the warmer months can be a bummer, but just because it’s hot doesn’t mean you can’t sleep cozy. Switching out the fabrics you’re utilizing during warmer seasons makes a huge difference in how you sleep. 

Usually, the debate comes down to two fabrics for hotter climates—linen and cotton. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of each and how to know which one will work best for you.


Linen has a long history of being the top fabric choice for clothing in hot summers, and when we say long, we’re talking Biblical times. Because of its natural ability to wick away moisture and heat, hot weather garments have historically been made of linen or linen blends to help keep people cool before indoor temperatures were controlled by air conditioning. This applies perfectly to bedding, as well.

Linen sheets break in overtime to be soft and cozy but are incredibly durable as well as breathable. They are usually more of an investment, but they have a cool reputation for a reason. Most linen bedding sets will have a naturally rumpled texture, which gives a lighter, more lived-in look while still maintaining a luxurious feel. Despite the high maintenance reputation, caring for linen is as simple as most bedding—wash with a good-quality detergent, tumble dry low or hang dry.

Pros: Durable, breathable, can wick away and hold up to 20% of its own weight in moisture.

Cons: Higher investment, naturally wrinkled look might not be your style.


Cotton is usually our go-to breathable, light fabric, and for good reasons. Cotton bedding usually ends up super soft and snuggly and stays fairly breathable as you sleep. What’s great about cotton is the light feel, but be on the lookout for thread count myths. Lots of companies claim high thread count and jack up the price on their bedding when in reality they are simply doubling or tripling the yarns used in a single thread to fake it.

A lower thread count, but higher staple length actually provides a more breathable, airy sheet with a longer lifespan. Cotton sheets are popular because they are affordable, come in a wide array of colors and prints, and feel like your favorite t-shirt. 

Cotton comes in a few different weaves, which can make choosing the right one a little confusing. A percale weave is similar to a hotel sheet set—crisp, timeless, and super breezy. A sateen, however, is a dense, more luxurious, super smooth weave that looks beautiful, but probably isn’t the coolest weave to choose. Flannel, while plush and cozy in the winter months, would be pretty stuffy for the summer. Stick with something open and light. 

Pros: Comfy, cool, and affordable.

Cons: Not as long-lasting as other fabrics, doesn’t wick away as much moisture. 

How to choose

Basically, the linen vs. cotton debate comes down to budget and style. If you’re able to invest a little more upfront and like a more natural, lived-in aesthetic, linen is absolutely the choice for you. If you prefer a more crisp, classic feel to your bedding, cotton is probably the better fit. 

Shop our sheets.

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Shelly Weaver-Cather
Shelly Weaver-Cather

Shelly Weaver is part of the Content Team at Tuft & Needle, leading the writing and editing of our blog. Not quite a Phoenix native, (They take that sort of thing super seriously.) Shelly has spent most of her life in the Phoenix Metro area and has no plans of leaving anytime soon. She made the unexpected jump out of wedding photography and onto T&N’s team in 2016, and found a passion for the people that keep the lights on. She still finds herself shooting in her free time, though these days there are less bridal portraits and more masterpieces of her first child, Duke, a lab-pit mix with an unparalleled love for both T&N mattress hogging and couch destroying.

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