How to Tell if Linen is Good Quality

Posted by in Fine Linens, Luxury Linens

What to Look Out For When Buying Linens

Linens are so diverse that it can sometimes be difficult to tell the good stuff from the mediocre. Unfortunately, there are a few unscrupulous suppliers out there who set out to take advantage of anyone who is unable to tell the difference. This post explains in detail how to tell if linen is good quality, helping you source the finest linen without falling victim to common marketing ploys.

How to Tell if Linen is Good Quality: 5 Dos and Don’ts

How to tell if linen is good qualityDO identify the linen’s country of origin. Although it’s not always specified, identifying the country of origin can be a useful indicator of the quality of linen. Ireland, Italy and Belgium all have a long history of producing luxury-grade linens, and as a result, the product is typically of the highest quality – in the same way that the best cotton tends to come from Egypt.

DO check for weaving mistakes. Even without an expert’s eye for detail, you can still get a good idea of the quality of linen by having a good look at it. While linen contains natural slubs (a combination of thinner and thicker threads), you should still be able to tell the difference between the natural texture of the fabric and any unintentional irregularities in the weave.

DO inspect the folds. If you are able to, unfold the item and check for any points of wear in the folds and creases. At the same time, be wary of fabric that isn’t all that creased: linen is naturally prone to creasing so if it seems suspiciously crinkle-free, it’s probably a cheap fabric blend.

DO check the colour. The colour should be even throughout the fabric. Linen is notoriously difficult to dye, and you can often tell if corners have been cut by the presence of frosting (unevenness in the colour of the fabric). Yellowing is another common problem, which occurs when the fluorescent brighteners used to whiten linen are exposed to natural or artificial light. This reduces the effectiveness of the whitening process, leaving the linen irreversibly yellowed in certain places.

DON’T get hung up on thread count. Linen naturally has a much lower thread count than other textiles such as cotton, so there’s no point in using this as a basis for comparison. The difference is down to the flax plant from which linen is made, which has naturally thicker fibres than cotton. Even the best quality linens typically have a thread count of between 80 and 150, so if you find a shop that claims to go higher, they are most likely trying to pass a cheap linen blend off as the good stuff.


I hope these guidelines have helped you to understand how to tell if linen is good quality. As you can see, it’s actually fairly simple: all you need to do is keep your eyes open and not be afraid to ask questions. By making sure your linen is of the desired quality before you buy it, you can avoid a great deal of disappointment further down the line when it’s too late to do anything about it.

If you’re looking for a tried and trusted luxury linen supplier in the UK, I recommend Woods Fine Linens. They supply some of the best quality linens I have come across, sourced from all over the world – including Ireland, Italy and Belgium. Based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, Woods offers a nationwide delivery service, with overseas deliveries also available upon request.