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Cotton vs. Linen – What's the Difference?


While cotton, from the cotton plant, and linen, from the flax plant, are both natural plant fibers (cellulose), there are many differences between them. The term "Linens" can colloquially refer to any household good, but this should not be confused with linen fabric. Below we compare cotton and linen in a non-exhaustive array of categories

Cotton and Linen Throws

Strength and Longevity

Linen is known to be the world’s strongest natural fiber. It is so durable it’s even used in paper money to increase strength! It is thicker than cotton and linen fiber has variable lengths, most of which are very long. This contributes to strength, which contributes to longevity. Linen lasts a very long time.

The strength of cotton is achieved through spinning multiple fibers into yarn and weaving the yarn into fabric.

Hand (referring to the way it feels in your hand)

From the flax plant, Linen is a bast fiber. Known to be crisper than cotton, linen becomes supple through handling. It gains elegance and softens to behold the most fluid drape. Though it is has more natural texture than cotton, it is silky with high luster.

Wrinkles? Both cotton and linen are associated with wrinkles. Linen fibers have a natural resin called lignan. At first, the fibers are stiff and crease easily. The wrinkles become smoother through handling and use.

The Cotton plant yields fluffy fiber clusters called bolls. They are very soft to the touch and resilient to handling. Cotton fabrics can be very soft and no other plant fiber can offer the same type of comfortable hand at first touch.

Cotton Boll

Interactivity with moisture

Natural fibers love water. Linen is thought of as nature’s wicking fiber. It can gain up to 20% moisture before it will first begin to feel damp. Cotton will absorb more than 25% its weight in water.

Additionally, linen is known to gain strength when wet. It has the natural ability to prevent bacterial growth. For towels, this is very important as hand and bath towels tend to be the perfect home for microbes.

The affinity of cotton and linen to moisture is one reason why natural fibers are most comfortable to wear and to have in our bedrooms. They interact well with our bodies and contribute to our comfort.



Linen fibers are hollow, moving air and moisture naturally. During the colder months, layer linen blankets or a throw to retain heat and warmth from your body. Linen reacts to the season and the body in contact with the cloth to give the best of all circumstances.  Linen is a natural insulator. It is valued for its ability to keep cool in the summer months and trap warmth in colder weather. This is all achieved through the natural properties of the fiber itself.

Cotton blankets move effortlessly between seasons. Their warmth is found in the comfort of their feel. Innovative design and texture provide places for air, adding to comfort. During cold months, use cotton blankets and throws to layer. They will add weight. In warm climates, use a cotton blanket or throw alone and it will provide rest under the perfect weight. Your blankets have one job: to keep you warm, cozy and comfortably nested. Natural plant fibers outshine.

natural linen blanket

Healthful Properties

Known to help with everything from anti-stress to a better sleep, linen is thought to have healing properties and even reduce "itis" conditions (like arthritis and dermatitis).

Ancient Egyptians used linen for its natural ability to help repel microorganisms. Linen has been known to be tolerable for those with allergies and to soothe skin conditions.

Linen Border Stripe Throw - on girl

Cotton and Linen have a long History:

Linen textiles are some of the oldest in the world, dating back thousands of years. Egyptians sometimes used linen as currency.

Use of the flax plant is believed to date back to approximately 8,000 BC. Cotton use has been around since prehistoric times. Specific evidence dates back to the Neolithic era from 6500 BCE to 2500 BCE. The Cotton Industry is one of the major successes in the Industrial Revolution.



Follow our easy care instructions, and you could have your linen and cotton blankets for generations to come. Since you're able to wash and dry our linen and cotton blankets, the care is simple and straight-forward.

In Summary:

Each fiber brings its own natural beauty and attributes. Together, they are a winning combination.

Cotton, resilient and soft to the touch.

Linen, smooth and fluid.

Both: very comfortable and breathable. If you want to be surrounded with the soft and smooth property of nature’s fibers, choose either.

Whether for a wedding or anniversary gift, your loved ones will appreciate the thought of a luxurious present. Unlike other gifts, yours will never go out of style and will last for generations to come!

By Brahms Mount


Modern comfort. Maine tradition.

Classic Textiles Since 1983