Why Are Linen Sheets So Expensive?

published Sep 2, 2020
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If you’ve ever upgraded your bedding, you’ve probably noticed linen sheets command a much higher price tag than pretty much any other option on the market—often, nearly twice the cost of alternatives. 

For example, at Brooklinen, high-end percale cotton sheets are generally half the price of linen sets, which easily run upwards of $200. You’ll run into the same issue at other retailers. Even on Amazon, a set of standard linen sheets is around $145. For comparison, you can get some cotton or microfiber sets for less than $30.

Yes, linen sheets are expensive. But people who dish out a few hundred dollars for linen do so for a great reason: It feels amazing. Made from the fibers of the flax plant, linen is known for its moisture-absorbing superpowers. It’s also incredibly breathable, making it a smart option for warmer climates (or anyone who likes to be a bit chilly in bed). 

Whether you snag a set of linen sheets is up to you, and how you like your bed to feel. But it may help to know what it is that makes linen sheets so expensive, so you can make an informed decision about where you sleep. Hannah Zeskind, public relations manager at Brooklinen, has the scoop. 

Credit: Justgreatphotography/Shutterstock

Why are linen sheets so expensive?

Think of linen as the fine jewelry of bedding. Like most precious stones and metals, linen sheets are more expensive because they’re rarer. For one thing, linen is more difficult and costly to harvest and produce than most other materials. 

Zeskind says the linen fiber is hidden inside the flax stalks, so extracting it is a longer and more laborious process than, say, picking cotton. Linen fiber is also inelastic, so it can easily break down during production as looms put a lot of tension on the yarns. This means linen-weaving machines typically have to run at lower speeds, which decreases output and increases cost. 

Compared to other materials, flax is also grown much more selectively. While cotton is grown worldwide, Zeskind says flax is grown and harvested almost exclusively in Western Europe, where climate and soil conditions are optimal for the fiber to thrive.

But for linen-lovers, all the time and energy it takes to muster a single set is worth it. Given the somewhat painstaking harvest and production process, linen also lasts a lot longer than cheaper options. And the best part is, linen actually gets better as it ages. Your sheets may feel a bit crisp at first, but Zeskind says linen is known for becoming softer and more luxurious-feeling after each wash.

Aside from the price tag, there’s one potential drawback when it comes to your linen sheets. While linen is definitely more durable than materials like cotton, it does wrinkle more easily and more often. But who says that’s a con, anyway. “Even so, wrinkling is part of the laid-back aesthetic of linen that we love,” Zeskind says.

Whether you decide to invest in a set of linen sheets is up to you and your bed-time preferences. If you do decide to grab a set, abandon everything you already know about choosing sheets, like thread count. Since the flax fiber is naturally thicker and more robust than cotton, it needs fewer threads than other sheets. (The average linen sheet has a thread count of between 80 and 150, which would be very low for cotton.) Instead, judge your sheet purchase based on style and reviews. You may front a pretty penny, but hey—at least you’ll sleep well.