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Does Linen Keep You Cooler Than Cotton?

Appropriate clothing is essential to avoid heat exhaustion in sweltering summer. Whether you are searching for summer clothing or luxurious bedding, the two most popular choices are linen and cotton. Although both of these are natural fabrics, various factors come into play if you want to choose one of them. And arguably the most important of these factors is how cool it keeps you.

Linen keeps you cooler than cotton. Two main factors that make linen cooler than cotton are its breathability and the ability to wick away moisture. This means you will sweat less when wearing linen, as the wide, lengthy fibers of linen allow air to pass through the fabric, keeping you cool.

Although coolness is an essential factor, it is not the only element to be considered when deciding your ideal summer clothing. You should also know about the different properties of cotton and linen and what they mean for you to help find out the best choice. Let’s take a more in-depth look at how linen compares to cotton.

Linen vs. Cotton: Why linen is better for summer.

Both linen and cotton are suitable for summer. They are also eco-friendly since both of these fabrics are natural. However, its distinctive properties allow linen clothing to function more effectively in hot and humid conditions and considerably lessen the effects of heat on you.

Linen is even known as the cool fabric because of its fantastic ability to keep the wearer cool and fresh. Let’s compare cotton and linen in detail to see how linen is an overall better choice when it comes to summer clothing.


As said above, the first of the two properties that make linen cooler than cotton is its breathability. The linen fibers are wide, large, and hollow, which gives it better breathability than cotton. Linen is loosely woven, and its clothing style is relaxed and flowing. This means that it stays away from your body and does not stick to your skin. As a result, air can easily pass through this fabric, providing coolness and comfort even in extremely hot weather.


Another useful feature of linen is that it is highly absorbent. It can absorb up to 20% of its weight in moisture before starting to feel wet. Even though cotton has better absorbency – it can absorb 25% of its weight ­– overall, linen performs better because of its wicking ability. By the time linen clothes would begin to feel damp, most of the moisture would have evaporated already.

Since linen wicks away moisture instantly, it also dries much faster than cotton. This makes linen an ideal choice for people who sweat a lot. Also, if you tend to sleep hot and experience night sweats, then you’ll fall in love with breathable, absorbent linen sheets.


Linen is highly heat-conductive. Heat-conductivity of a fabric is its ability to release body heat into the environment. It is easy to imagine how allowing the heat to escape improves cooling. Its weave also reflects heat better than cotton.

Because of its insane heat-conductivity, linen acts as an excellent self-cooling mechanism. It is also claimed that the thermal conductivity of linen is five times that of wool and eighteen times that of silk.

How do cotton and linen differ in daily use?

Apart from the above features, there are some other differences between cotton and linen. These distinctions are important as they will determine how, where, and when you should use cotton or linen clothing. Both of these fabrics have their own distinctive characteristics, pros, and cons.

Before we jump into the differences, we should know what these are. Cotton is a soft staple fiber that originates from the cotton plant. Whereas linen is a durable fabric that is made from the flax plant.

Initially, linen often has a bit coarser and crispier feel to it as compared to cotton. However, it does significantly soften over time with use and repeated washings. On the other hand, cotton is soft right out of the box.

Both linen and cotton fabrics are hypoallergenic, i.e., they are less likely to cause allergic reactions than other materials. However, linen seems more suitable if you happen to have any allergies, as it will trap fewer dust particles with its loose weave and a smaller number of threads.

Although both of these fabrics should be washed in cold water, cotton is able to withstand warmer water if need be. Whereas, using warm water with linen will weaken its fibers. Both cotton and linen can be air-dried or tumble-dried on a low setting.

Lastly, linen is exceptionally durable. It is the strongest natural fabric in the world. Compared to cotton, linen is 30% stronger. It is also heavier than cotton. Provided that you properly take care of them, your linen clothes and sheets can even last you for decades. Whereas the lifetime or durability of cotton clothing varies considerably based on its weave and variety.

The downside of linen.

Surprise! Linen, much like everything else in the world, is not perfect. With several advantages, there are a few drawbacks as well that come with linen fabric. Even though they are not many in number, they ought to be considered to determine if linen really is for you.

First of all, this fabric is relatively stiff, which brings a few things with it that are not entirely favorable. For one, it might not be the most comfortable, especially if you go for more affordable linen. It can feel a bit rough before you wash it a few times. Although as time goes on, it will get softer and more comfortable.

Does Linen Keep You Cooler Than Cotton?

Secondly, it wrinkles and creases really easily and is a bit hard to clean for the same reason. It can lose its appeal if you wash it with hard water. It is also advised not to fold linen clothing as it will make you look messy with all the wrinkles it’ll have when you take it out of the closet. Instead, you should hang it.

Linen does a great job of keeping you cool, which is a double-edged sword and can sometimes cause problems. Since it is so breathable, it doesn’t insulate as well as cotton. What this means is that you’ll face difficulties when you walk from the scorching heat on the streets directly into your air-conditioned office. You’re probably going to freeze.

Lastly, linen is more expensive than any other fabric. The higher price is because it is hard to weave. Being inelastic, it can easily break in the production process. So, it has a higher cost of production as well, resulting in an overall higher price.


Rest assured that linen will do a fantastic job as far as cooling is concerned. It is best suitable for casual events and other relaxed environments. You’ve already seen how linen clothing improves over time and lasts very long. All in all, linen is undoubtedly worth the higher price tag it comes with.

On the other hand, cotton also has its own advantages and is a popular summer choice for good reasons.

The only real consideration when choosing between linen and cotton clothing is where you will be wearing it. Other than that, it is mostly a matter of personal preference. It is very much possible to find quality clothes, regardless of whether you are looking for cotton or linen.


  • Steve Rajeckas

    Steve Rajeckas is an HVAC hobbyist with an avid interest in learning innovative ways to keep rooms, buildings, and everything else at the optimal temperature. When he's not working on new posts for Temperature Master, he can be found reading books or exploring the outdoors.

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