We Tested Linen Sheets For Several Weeks. These 4 Are The Softest

We Tested Linen Sheets For Several Weeks. These 4 Are The Softest

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Published 2:45 PM EDT, Mon August 2, 2021

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Compared to fabrics like cotton, linen sheets are expensive — we’re talking a median price of around $200 — but that high price is commensurate with the quality and craftsmanship of the fabric, which can last several more years than cotton.

To find the best linen sheets on the market, we washed, dried, made our bed and conducted plenty more tests (outlined below) over and over again with 10 different linen sheet sets in total. One blanket statement (sorry not sorry!): Every sheet set on this list came in with high marks overall for comfort and quality. None of them pilled or showed damage after multiple wash cycles. All of them provided an upgraded sleep experience compared to basic cotton sheets. So winners came down to nuances like softness, value and, in one case, the ability to order individual sheets. Ultimately, and after many nights of sleep, we found these four sheet sets to be the best:

Best linen sheets overall

Luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set.

Runner-up

Thick and durable but also breathable and soft, Citizenry sheets are a master class in stylish rest. Woven in a mill in Portugal from French flax and produced in a fair-trade environment, these are a socially conscious buy that feel good in more ways than one.

Softest linen sheets

Truly the absolute softest, these Brooklinen sheets offered an immersive, delectable sleep experience. Simultaneously high-end and already perfectly worn in, these felt like a second skin from the first touch.

Best affordable linen sheets

Around half the price of some of the most expensive sets we tested, the Amazon Simple&Opulence sheets held their own in comfort and design. Straight out of the box, these were soft, snuggly and welcoming.

Parachute

Parachute Linen Sheet Set

Parachute was one of the first sets we tested, and quite an introduction to both luxury and linen bedding. They arrive in a roomy cardboard square with a hinge lid, making you wonder, “Is it my birthday?” Each separate linen is packaged in its own little bag crafted from the same European flax as its contents, made in a family-owned factory in northern Portugal. (A number of the luxury linen brands we tested were made in factories in Portugal, which has a large textiles industry.) Thick twine bounds each individual bag, giving the whole thing a sort of breezy, nautical feel, like you might be sleeping on a small yacht tonight.

Making the bed with these sheets was effortless. We’ve struggled with tight-fitting cotton sheets before, wondering why bed-making must be truly laborious. The Parachute linens were roomy but not baggy. They fit the bed comfortably, like a lovingly worn-in linen button-down. On the summer night we first tested these, the sheets were soft but also firm. If this sounds uncomfortable, it was the converse: cool, light and luxurious. Our first mental note was that we felt like we were sleeping on a cloud.

After a trip through the washing machine and dryer, the Parachute sheets softened a bit and wrinkled — a lot. All of these linens did, by nature of linen as a fabric. Even unironed and left in their natural, wrinkled state, the sheets have a luxurious, upscale feel. They’re also responsibly made, like most of the brands we tested, with Parachute linens being Oeko-Tex-certified, meaning they pass a series of tests for environmental safety in production.

Aside from the clean ease and simplicity of the white Parachute sheets we tested — many of our sets were simple and sophisticated — one factor that pushed these over the top into the winning category was the a la carte shopping factor. “Because 40% of Americans sleep without one, we offer the top sheet separately,” explains the Parachute site. You can buy fitted sheets and pillowcases separately too, and this convenience, giving consumers options, is integral to a superlative user experience. Plus, Parachute sheets come in six sizes (twin; twin XL, which adds four inches of length; full; queen; king; and California king, which also adds four inches of length but reduces width by four inches). That’s more sizes than any other brand we tested, and in a generous nine calming colors.

This level of variety, plus a very elegant and plush sleep offering, elevated the Parachute brand to our top spot.

Citizenry

Citizenry

It’s difficult to label something that brought us so much pleasure as a runner-up. Citizenry’s linen bed sheets are French flax, woven in a family-run mill in Portugal and produced in a fair-trade environment. And the unboxing was a beautiful thing: The product arrives in a bag of the same fabrication as the sheets themselves, tied with a gray linen pull. Our sheets were sienna in color and, showing up at the tail end of summer, were a reminder of autumn and cooler weather. Plus, the sheets smelled lovely, kind of like when you walk into a boutique home store with a luxe candle burning.

After we opened the box, we noticed there was a delicate perforated hem on the top sheet and the pillow too, which makes the whole bed presentation feel like more of an occasion. These are a sturdier, thicker option than some of the ones we tested, and thus feel like they’ll transition well into colder weather. Without an air conditioner unit blasting directly onto us in the heat of summer, these sheets almost felt heavy — so they wouldn’t be our first recommendation for hot sleepers. In a more temperature-controlled room, though, they felt so cozy we didn’t want to leave the bed.

After even the first washing, these beauties softened significantly, rendering them even more snuggly. And the Citizenry brand is an appealing one: They travel to each country they source goods from and work with local artisans using local materials to produce a small-batch product, then sell directly to the consumer.

The sheets come in a range of colors: 10 tasteful, neutral colors, including charcoal and graphite stripe. They slid in just under the winners pointswise for a couple of reasons: They come in just four sizes (full size, queen size, king size and Cali king size), and these were roomier sheets, widthwise, so they bagged a bit on both sides of our queen-size bed. All of that said, though, we wouldn’t be mad to sleep in these sheets all autumn long.

If you want a beautiful, heftier sheet, and one that’s made in partnership with local artisans, Citizenry has excellent options on offer.

Brooklinen

Brooklinen sheets

Brooklinen’s linen sheets fell into a different category than many of the other sets, one that can only be described as, well, buttery. Not stiff or starchy like many of the others we tested, Brooklinen arrived already feeling worn in, even brand new. The unboxing is fun, like you’re really getting something memorable. The product comes in a cute striped cardboard box with a plastic handle, opening up to your sheets packaged in a beautiful starched white bag. There’s even a gift with purchase: an adorable cream tote bag with “Brooklinen” printed in different iconic fonts.

Now on to the actual product: These sheets are the definition of soft. So comfortable. So enveloping. So melty. (They’re crafted from 100% French and Belgian linen, made in Portugal, and Oeko-Tex-certified for chemical safety.) We sort of dissolved into them in a very pleasing way. They felt like they had been washed and rewashed dozens of times, already achieving that texture, and from a sleeping experience alone, they were our favorite.

We didn’t rate them as the overall winner for a few minor reasons: You can’t buy individual sheets; they only come in four sizes (full, queen, king and Cali king); and they didn’t fit the bed quite as precisely as some of the others, namely the Parachute. That being said, the fitted sheets are labeled “Short” or “Long” on each side, so you don’t waste time figuring out which end goes where (an exercise we did a lot of during the last two months). And the pillowcases come with “envelope closures” that tidily punctuate your pillow so it’s not exposed beyond the case. A few brands had these envelope closures, a feature we didn’t know we needed.

If you prefer pure softness to a rougher fiber product, Brooklinen is ready to envelop you in comfort. We’d have no complaints sleeping on these every night for years to come.

Amazon

Amazon Simple&Opulence 100% Washed Linen Sheet Set

These were less than half the investment of some of the very high-end sheet sets we tested, without feeling the least bit like a consolation prize. They arrive tied up in a bundle with a cotton ribbon, like a little gift package. Once unwrapped, they’re immediately inviting. They were cool and soft, and felt nice against the skin; we kept wanting to roll around in them or schedule extra naps during the day.

They also fit the bed more snugly than most of the other sets, which was helpful during bed-making, and yielded a tidier-looking final product than some of the others. There’s a pretty decorative hem on the top sheet and the pillowcases, and the Simple&Opulence sheets come in four size options (twin, full, queen and king) and seven colors (two whites, four grays and a purple), but you can’t order single replacements of any of the pieces.

For less than $150, this is a very satisfying set of linens. While the sheets were slightly less luxurious-feeling and special than some of the other sets with special details or touches, these rank as high-quality, durable bedding more than worth their weight.

If you don’t need the fanciest packaging or the status a luxury brand can bring, Simple&Opulence is a more than solid option that delivers on comfort.

We tested 10 sets of linen sheets using two primary criteria: quality and variety. We observantly and excitedly unboxed each set (and for some of the sets that were more artfully packaged, the unboxing itself was a fun exercise) and made notes, prepared a bed with the sheets, slept on them straight out of the packaging, washed and dried them in the dryer and reapplied them to the same bed and slept on them again, multiple times. We noted how they felt to touch, as well as when tossing, sleeping and waking up, and how they felt after laundering and reusing.

Quality and feel

How they feel out of the box: Are they soft or rough? Thick or thin? Luxurious or flimsy? We evaluated the unboxing of each set of sheets on very tactile terms, asking the following questions: How do they feel in your hands? Is this a product you’d want to put on your bed, and against your skin? Comfort level: How do they feel to sleep on? We made notes on each set of sheets as to whether they were soft, stiff, cool, light, heavy or durable. And ultimately, how they affected a night of sleep. How they feel after washing: We evaluated if the sheets softened a great deal after washing and drying, and the wrinkle factor. (Note: The wrinkle factor was high for all of them after being dried without ironing.)

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