How to Care for Linen Fabric

August 13, 2010

Linen is a gorgeous, comfortable and durable fabric that is made from fibers of the flax plant. Taking care of linen is easy! Moreover, it grows softer and more lustrous with age. LinenMe team has faced some myths about the difficulties of taking care for linen products, so we decided to write an article and make things clear! Read the article and be confident with your linen purchases!

Most popular mistake is a belief that linen is only suitable for dry cleaning. It is not so! Linen fabric is known to be a material for clothing and other needs for some thousands years before the Christian era, so that probably means it is the world’s oldest natural fiber. And this also means that linens have been around long before any dry cleaners – and have been successfully cared for!

Linen fabrics are much stronger and smoother than cotton and there are only few things to know for your linen textile or clothes to last a long time.

As with many fabrics, the main rule is to follow the instructions of the manufacturer and whatever cleaning methods you use, first try it on a hidden area of your linen garment or household item.

When it comes to washing, linen is almost always better off with a hand or machine wash than a dry cleaning. Actually, with each washing, linen becomes softer and more absorbent. It is best to wash linen products in lukewarm or cold, and preferably soft, water. Gentle washing machine cycle and mild soaps are best for linen.

Feel free to machine dry your linen clothes or textile if you have one – use cool temperatures and remove when still slightly damp as over drying can make linen stiff and crackly. When removed from the dryer linen items can be hanged on a hanger or lied flat to become completely dry.

Ironing is not really a priority when it comes to linen items, unless they’re really crushed. Still, if you prefer ironing, it would be a good idea to iron while the fabric is still damp. Otherwise, iron with steam at medium-to-hot. While white linen is best ironed on both sides, it is bets to iron dark linen on the wrong side only.

Store your linens in a cool dry place; avoid plastic bags, cardboard boxes and cedar chests.

So, as you can see, linen items are machine washable, machine dryable and does not require any ironing if hanged or laid flat when still damp. Easy!


14 thoughts on “How to Care for Linen Fabric

  1. Debbie

    Thanks for this article. I was debating whether or not to buy a linen top and you gave me the courage I needed. Linen is rumored to be very cool in TX heat. Now I know it’s easy to care for too.

  2. Jene

    Dear Sir/madame;
    I’ve bought a new linen jacket which is very nice. But, after I hand wash it, it is so wrinkled. I hesitate to iron it, since too much work in ironing a callous jacket. How do I get rid off the wrinkles after hand washing. Thanks.

    1. linenme


      I’m sorry to tell you, but if the fabric contains at least 5% linen it wrinkles.
      My suggestion would be to hang your jacket when you take it from the washing machine and while it is still wet. Large wrinkles will go out naturally. If you prefer ironing, it would be a good idea to iron while the fabric is still damp.
      Personally, I do not iron any of my linens :) I love when they are a little crumpled, because then you can see that this is a natural product.


  3. Becky

    Thanks for the info. On this article. I just purchased tablecloths of linen. I hope I don’t mess it up though! Lol. Thanks again.

  4. Annete

    Thanks for the info. Right to the point…I like that. Was wondering though, should I use fabric softener when washing my linen pants?

  5. Ppaulineauline

    Thanks for the information. My eyes opened wide from a sound sleep this morning after remembering my husbands brand new white linen shirt was dry in the dryer! I rushed to look at it hoping it wasn’t ruined…… looks ok I think….wondering if I should wash it again now and let it hang to dry?


    1. linenme


      In the worst scenario what could happen is that your husband’s shirts would shrink 1 or 2 sizes :) This usually happens if linen is not the best quality or washed and dried at high temperature. I understand, that nothing terrible happened ;) If it didn’t shrink this time I shouldn’t shrink on next.


  6. Elaine

    I just purchased linen slipcovers for my kitchen chairs. These WILL get stains on them. Love look and feel of linen. What is best way to treat the daily stains? Thx!

    1. linenme


      Thank you for your question. Every textile product has to have care instructions sewn into the seam. So my suggestion would be to wash based on this info.
      If it is a good quality linen, it should be possible to wash at 40 – 60 degree. I wouldn’t put slipcovers in the dryer as they might shrink.

      I hope I helped you somehow.


  7. Juliet

    Ok, another stoing linens question. Does one or doesn’t one bother to fold acid-free tissues twixt the folds of the fabric when storing? Hah, 2 pts, used the word ‘twixt”, hee!

  8. Juliet

    Make that “storing”, or “stowing”, if you’re feeling nautical! Either way, I’d heard that linen can rub itself to bits over time if folded against itself – hoping you can take some of the “myth-ery” out of it all! I love my linens! Ooh, just 1 more: do embroidered linens require linen thread materials for the embroidered areas not to pull/pucker?


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