Hemp vs. Linen: The Comparison of Two Timeless Natural Fibers

Learn about Distinct Qualities and Why Hemp Is Better than Linen

Hemp vs. Linen

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With sustainable fashion gaining attention in recent years, hemp and linen have emerged as two environmentally friendly alternatives to synthetics. Hemp and linen are remarkable natural materials that have been around for centuries. They both are extra strong, very comfortable and eco-friendly fibers. Since the fibers are quite similar, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish them.

While many of their properties resemble each other significantly, there are some differences too. So how can you tell the difference, and which one of the two is better for the intended use? In this article, we will explore the characteristics of both materials including environmental impact, and application. Ultimately, you will be able to make an informed decision when shopping for household textiles, clothing, or accessories. In summary, hemp outshines the linen in several key areas, making it a safe choice for all your needs.

Hemptique: Hemp Cord, Fiber and Garment Supplier

If you are a consumer looking for premium hemp products, or a distributor seeking to include superior,  100% pure natural hemp in your offerings, Hemptique is your solution. Our premium eco-friendly hemp merchandise meets the highest quality standards and sustainability requirements. Hemp has a wide variety of applications, from clothing and household items, arts & crafts to packaging, home decor, and gardening. Our rich assortment includes clothing, accessories, cords, ropes, twine, and much more.

Hemptique’s good reputation is built on high-quality materials and commitment to environmentally friendly manufacturing. We nourish successful collaborations with retailers and wholesalers by providing highly customized ordering options. Submit your inquiries via our contact page or apply for a wholesale account. Incorporating superior hemp products will help you build a better brand name and a better planet.


Both fabrics are made using bast fiber, which is taken from the stem. More precisely, the stalk skin provides the specific fiber.

Hemp, also known as industrial hemp, is made from hemp plant known as Cannabis sativa plant, specifically from its stalks. The stalks have thick and long fibers on the outside, and a soft and spongy center. The outer tensile layers are used to produce textiles, while the inside is used to make fuel or building materials.

Linen is made from the stems of the flax plant, also known as Linum usitatissimum. Cellulose fibers are used to make strong fabric, traditionally used to make household textile products like bed sheets and table covers.

How The Fabrics Are Made
Hemp vs. Linen: A Brief Background


Both hemp and linen have been around for a very long time. In fact, they have been cultivated for thousands of years all over the world. In recent years, they are gaining new popularity for their sustainable and biodegradable features.

Flax plants have been grown to make linen for clothing, household textiles and bandages. The plant has also been widely used for the nutritious benefits of its seeds.

Hemp has been cultivated for centuries to produce things like cloth, ropes, fishing nets, and paper. Due to The Marijuana Tax Act from 1937 and Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the USA has abandoned cultivating industrial hemp. In 2018 a Farm Bill was passed, which has legalized industrial hemp. Although it takes time to remove the stigma, consumers and manufacturers quickly recognized the multitude of benefits hemp offers.


Looking on the outside, the fibers are identical. In fact, in order to tell the difference, a high-power microscope or chemical examination is needed. Another way to determine the difference is the direction in which they twist when they are wet. Hemp rotates counterclockwise and flax rotates clockwise. 

They are both fantastic alternatives to synthetic fibers on the market. And apart from the similar looks, they tend to have the same features too. Let’s look at some of the similarities between the two:

Natural & Breathable Materials

Hemp and linen are lightweight and breathable materials. They effectively absorb moisture, leaving you feeling cooler during the summer.


Both hemp and linen are perfect for insulation due to their hollow fibers. When the weather is cool, you will not feel cold, thanks to these fibers. 


They are both very durable fabrics, lasting for many years. With proper care, investing in either of these ensures longevity of materials.


When it comes to softness, they both become softer after washing and repeated use. Although there is a misconception that hemp is rough, modern manufacturing creates comfortable and soft fabrics.


Hemp and linen are biodegradable and recyclable materials, meaning they can be naturally broken down by micro-organisms and help relieve the landfills. The apparel industry represents one of the biggest polluters in the world with a significant negative impact on the climate. An increasing number of fashion brands are starting to choose hemp or linen to contribute to reducing pollution.

Antibacterial & Hypoallergenic Properties

Both fabrics are hypoallergenic and antibacterial, which makes them safe for people with allergies and sensitive skin.


Both materials are very absorbent, so they are easily dyed to create various designs.
Linen vs Hemp Sustainability
Why Hemp Is Better than Linen


By comparing the differences, one will be able to decide which is more suitable for their particular needs. Overall, hemp outshines linen in majority of features listed below:

Strength & Longevity

Both materials are known for their durability. However, hemp fibers are stronger as the fibers are longer. Research has shown that hemp has the longest shelf-life of all natural fabrics available.


Linen is not very elastic. Still, in comparison to hemp, linen has more elasticity. Hemp is not known for its elasticity features, yet it is easily tailored to fit all body shapes. 

Pesticide Use

Hemp is a weed and insect-resistant plant, and it does not need or use any pesticides during growing. Flax plant, on the other hand, is not resistant to pests and can easily be overcome with weeds. Thus, cultivating flax plants requires the use of herbicides and pesticides. In turn, the soil is depleted, which impacts the environment.


When comparing the resource use, such as water, flax plants need less water than hemp to grow.

Biodiversity Impact

When it comes to biodiversity features, hemp contributes more than flax plants to biodiversity by attracting bees.


Generally, linen is more accessible. Linen apparel and bed sheets are easier to find because hemp has been stigmatized in the past and is still gaining its momentum.

Resistance to mold and mildew

One of hemp’s unique features is high resistance to mold and mildew, which contributes to its prolonged durability even in certain humid environments. However, hemp materials should still be stored in dry places for maximum longevity and quality. 


In the current market, linen is cheaper than hemp. The reason why hemp tends to be pricier is due to its limited manufacturing. As it becomes more widely produced, the price will most likely be reduced.



Throughout history, one of the most popular materials was linen since many cultures used it as the primary source for clothing and household textiles. Linen uses include:

  • Fashion (shirts, skirts, pants, dresses)
  • Home textiles (bedding, clothing, tablecloths, dish towels)
  • Furnishings (upholstery, wallpapers, window treatments)
  • Arts (canvas for oil paintings)


Ever since industrial hemp has re-emerged on the market, it has had numerous applications. The plant itself can be used to make biofuel, plastic, animal feed, and skincare products. Some of hemp fiber main uses are:
  • Apparel (T-shirts, hoodies, pants, dresses)
  • Accessories (backpacks, jewelry, pet toys)
  • Homeware & Décor (ropes, hemp cord, tablecloths, towels, rugs)
  • Building materials (insulation, concrete, plaster)
  • Paper (packaging, writing paper, cardboard)


Hemp cultivation has less environmental  impact and is more sustainable than linen because:
  • it is naturally resistant to pests and insects and doesn’t require any chemicals to grow
  • carbon negative crop
  • enriches the soil
  • positive contribution to biodiversity
  • produces larger yields
  • does not deplete the soil
  • can easily be grown organically
  • can be planted almost anywhere without the need for crop rotation, thus minimizing wasting land
Hemp stands out as a clear winner in terms of sustainability, as it conserves the wellbeing of our planet. It needs less land to grow, and it improves soil quality. Moreover, bees seem to like hemp plants more than flax. However, it is worth noting that both are better for the environment than non-organic cotton or synthetic materials. 


In the last few years, the textile industry has been turning to nature and seeking to include more naturally sourced fibers from plants and ocean organisms. There is also an increasing trend of mixing recycled materials with natural fabric.

Hemp, also known as “super plant,” is fiber of the future. It is strong, durable, biodegradable, and carbon negative. It is also a vital part of healing the planet, as it enriches the soil and prevents erosion. Furthermore, it has lots of potential for farmers and landscapes as it is one of the most efficient crops.

Textile made from hemp is sustainable with minimal environmental consequences, which makes it a great solution to address fashion industry’s detrimental carbon impact.


The comparative analysis of hemp and linen properties shows there are lots of similarities. They are both quality textiles, biodegradable, with diversified uses. The main differences appear in fiber strength and sustainability. Either of these natural materials are a  great choice, however, if you choose hemp you can be sure you will get a long-lasting product without making a negative impact on the environment. Being eco-conscious and contributing to a greener future are just some of the reasons to forego a natural, green path into the future.


How do I care for hemp and linen products?
Washing and caring for hemp and linen is fairly straightforward. Make sure you follow manufacturer’s instructions to prolong the life of fiber. Machine wash on gentle cycle, or hand wash using mild detergent. Fabric softener is not needed, as the materials soften by themselves by getting wet during washing.

Air-dry the items in a well-ventilated area. If they need straightening after the washing, you can do so by delicate ironing on a low temperature or simply smoothing them out with wet hands.  

How does hemp enrich the soil?
Research has shown that hemp detoxifies and enriches the soil. Furthermore, it prevents erosion of the soil. It can even be planted in dry climates and barren areas as it can improve the quality of soil while growing and producing fiber. 

On the other hand, flax plants deplete the soil and require rotating over time. Hence, it is not recommended to plant flax in dry or eroding areas.

Does hemp wrinkle like linen?
Both materials are natural, thus, they both crease. Overall, linen creases easier than hemp, but you can reduce the possibility of creasing by following manufacturer’s washing and drying instructions.  
What are the disadvantages of hemp fiber?
Hemp fiber has very few disadvantages. Some of them are price, limited supply and easy wrinkling.