What's the best bed linen that looks good for the longest? Designers explain what they choose for a beautiful night's sleep

We look at the best choices when it comes to durable bed linen to help you make the best investment

A bed and bedside table with lamp
(Image credit: O&A London)

Investing in bed linen isn't just a question of what pattern and color might work for your bedroom, and daily usage means durability is a key factor to take into consideration. 

When assessing the performance of bed linen, it all comes down to the material and their qualities. It is also about the thread count. Thread count was invented to measure cotton and is a useful tool to measure the amount of thread woven into a square inch of fabric. The thinner the yarns, the more you can squeeze into a square inch of fabric, so thread count can be quite a tricky tool for measurement across different fabrics with different yarns, but helps you understand just how durable a fabric might be. Thirdly, we need to look at the weave to understand how long-lasting a fabric might be.

To help you out, we've researched which are the most durable bed sheets (and found some great deals out there too!) Here are my favorite three durable fabrics to shop for your bedroom.


TENCEL™ is a relatively new fabric on the scene but one to really consider for your bedding. It's semi-synthetic and known for its environmental credentials, sourced from sustainably sourced eucalyptus wood pulp and produced in a closed-loop process so that 99 percent of the solvent is recycled. 

It's been around for a while and we've seen it used for homeware, soft furnishings and activewear, and now it's used for bed sheets. It's durable in quality and crucially temperature-regulating and moisture wicking, meaning that it's great for cooling you down which only helps you have a great night sleep.

With a silky feel to touch and slight sheen, TENCEL™ bed linen envelops your body as you sleep, and the quality and feel of TENCEL™ bedding means it's a great option for those with sensitive skin issues.

If you're someone with hygiene concerns or allergies, TENCEL™ lyocell has an Asthma and Allergy Friendly certification from the AAFA and it's also antimicrobal, killing microorganisms such as bacteria or mold.

2. Cotton

Cotton is the most common fabric and is often considered the best bed sheet material. It's selected for its breathable nature and can be relatively inexpensive. 

Luckily, it is also easy to maintain and one of the more durable options out there, but some weaves and types are more durable than others. 'I like brushed cotton, also known as flannelette,' says interior designer Irene Gunter, 'which is more durable than regular cotton due to the brushing process it undergoes.' This cotton undergoes a mechanical process where brushes are rubbed on the surface of the fabric to raise the softest fibers from the yarns.

For the most durable selection, go for Egyptian cotton - which has the strongest fibers that can last despite regular washing and usage. The benefits of Egyptian cotton also extend beyond durability. It allows air to circulate and can regulate body temperature and is super soft. Just be wary that Egyptian cotton could for sale at a higher price point. 

Pima cotton is another durable version of cotton, which is derived from Egyptian cotton and it won't pill (which is when you can see those small knots of broken fibers on the surface of the material after you have it for a while.)

'A pure cotton sheet will last a lot longer than a cotton sheet mixed with polyester, which will be prone to bobbling and quicker to show signs of wear and tear,' adds Daniela Boleto, design director at bed sheet experts, Camomile London.

3. Linen

A linen bed spread in pistachio

(Image credit: Bed Threads)

Linen is another top choice for bed linen that has been proven to be seriously durable and can endure frequent use and washing. It is naturally thicker than cotton with a low thread count to cotton because of such thick yarns. This plays into its strength, making it highly durable and long-lasting. Where some fabrics only deteriorate over age, linen improves. Fresh, new linen can feel quite coarse and harsh to the touch, but it does soften over time. 

‘There’s a reason why we have 27 different colorways of our 100 percent linen: it’s simply the best,’ says Molly Freshwater, co-founder of Secret Linen Store. ‘Not only is it durable - flax fibers are strong and made to last, but the fabric also gets softer after every wash, meaning it looks and feels fabulous for years – a great investment for your home. 

'And let’s not forget that linen holds hypoallergenic qualities and has the ability to regulate body temperature – meaning it’s just as suitable for keeping you warm in winter as it is for keeping you cool in the summer. What’s not to love?!’ 

'For bedsheets that improve over time you can't do better than washed linen which becomes softer every time you wash it,' adds Cherie Lee of Cherie Lee Interiors. 'For busy families the more casual laid back look of washed linen has the added benefit of not needing to be ironed. On first wash the sheets will shrink a little but but after that should settle down to remain the same size. A good firm shake out after washing and hung out to air dry rather than tumble drying will help any sheets, but especially linen sheets to last longer, and will save on energy bills in the process!'

One point to be made about linen is that it is prone to wrinkling and requires a little upkeep to ensure a smooth appearance over time. It also tends to be sold for a higher price point.

4. Bamboo 

Finally, bamboo is a fabric that is super durable and long-lasting. The bamboo plant has naturally long fibers which helps it when it comes to durability, where other types of fabrics that are woven with shorter fabrics are more likely to pill or tear.

 A well-looked-after bamboo sheet set can last you for around five or six years with the right care. The different weaves also impact feel and durability. Bamboo can be weaved in percale, sateen or twill. Twill is the weave used in denim. It is thicker and adds texture and they tend to be durable.  

Bamboo bed linen is a newer option that is moisture-wicking - which means it dries rapidly and quickly moves (or wicks) sweat to the fabric's outer surface, making it a perfect choice for hot climates or warm sleepers. One drawback is that bamboo can be more expensive than other options and can be prone to wrinkling, although this is based on the weave. 

What is TENCEL™ and why is it a good material for bedding?

One of most wonderful fabrics for moisture-wicking, TENCEL™ Lyocell is well worth knowing about, if you don't already. It's what the Livingetc team ask for when they're shopping, knowing that it'll be both soft and cooling to sleep under. TENCEL™ is a textile that is created by environmentally friendly processes, and made using natural materials in their raw state. 

The beauty of TENCEL™ is how soft it is, though. Not dissimilar to cotton, and just so breathtable - anyone who suffers from hot nights and waking up warm can help to counterbalance that by sleeping under TENCEL™. It cools itself, and in turn cools you. A must for the summer months.

What bed linen isn't durable?

What bedding should you be avoiding if durability is your priority? Silk is a luxurious fabric that is renowned for its softness, gentle feel, and indulgent sheen. Silk is great for temperature regulation and moisture-wicking, keeping you cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. 

A real drawback with silk is that the fibers are so delicate that it requires specific care to prevent damage. Silk should be washed on a cold setting or hand-washed and air-dried to help it last as long as possible. With careful maintenance silk still will wear out faster than other fabrics. 

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.