Why Linen towels over Cotton Towels?

While relaxing on our deck at the Jersey shore this past weekend, my good friend Charles asked me, “Why does linen make a better towel vs cotton?” Great question!! I thought I would take a few minutes and enlighten.

Linen is derived from the flax plant. It is highly durable and can last for decades when properly cared for. In Europe it is highly coveted and is often handed down from generation to generation. It becomes a family heirloom. It softens over time and its unique “hand” or feel, is very hard to reproduce by any mechanical means. To my knowledge, not a lot of cotton towels being handed down!

Here are just a few of the benefits of linen,

  • It is environmentally friendly. Fewer chemicals and less water are needed to make it grow.
  • It is 30% stronger than cotton. It far outlasts cotton in durability.
  • It is much more absorbent than cotton.
  • It is breathable. It dries far more quickly than cotton, thus reducing that “mildewy” smell you get with cotton towels.
  • It is hypoallergenic (perspiration will not break down the fibers.)
  • It is less bulky. When travelling it takes up much less space in your luggage


Here are some of the major differences between cotton and linen, and why linen is a better fabric.

Cotton, when cared for properly will last, at best, from 3-5 years. Linen on the other hand is just starting to come into its own, after that amount time. In fact, the more linen is used the softer and more luxurious it becomes. In addition, due to its superior absorbency and hypoallergenic characteristics, linen fibers do not break down nearly as quickly as cotton. Linen, when properly cared for, can last for 20-30 years. That is why it is so popular in Europe. Europeans view linen as an investment rather than a disposable item. Its thread count makes it a much more durable fabric. Linen also has natural anti-microbial properties. Because of this, linen towels can be used multiple times before they start to get that “musty” smell so often associated with cotton towels. Less washing means less water, less detergent, better for the environment, you get the idea!

Why is the thread count on linen, lower than that of cotton?

Simply put, linen fibers are much thicker than cotton fibers. Generally speaking, linen fabric has a thread count of somewhere between 80-150 per inch. Cotton can be 200 or more. Even though the thread count is lower with linen, it is often thought of as the superior fabric.

For all of these reasons, linen is a far superior fabric to cotton when it so comes to beach and bath towels.

If you would like to learn more about linen, please visit our “The Linen Experience” page at www.decktowel.com.

That’s Linen That’s Life!

Hank & Gail

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