How to wash linen? | Linen care tips

Even though each LinenMe product comes with care instructions, we often get asked what the best methods of linen care are, especially if your linen item has a fine hand-embroidered detail, like this Queen tablecloth.

Here’s a list of tips on how to wash linens:

– Regular washing is actually good for pure linen, as it softens and beautifies it, giving it a lovely ‘lived-in’ look, and you don’t need to store it away ‘for best’. Linen fabric gets rid of dirt more easily than other textiles, and if rinsed thoroughly it comes up just as new every time.

– White pure linen items without special finishes such as hemstitched borders can be laundered at temperatures of up to 95°C. We normally recommend using 60°C setting, as higher temperatures tend to wear linen out faster.
– Before washing, separate dark, coloured linens from white or off-white linens.

– You can use stain remover on stains before laundering, but avoid using bleach since it weakens fibres and may affect the colour of dyed linens. It’s worth noting that bleaching particles in conventional washing powder make natural linen colour fade.

– Try to rinse the stains immediately, when still fresh, and use natural stain soaps if needed. Cover red wine stains with sugar or salt instantly to avoid permanent staining. Sugar and salt are well-known for absorbing the moist; wipe the sugar off the tablecloth straight away.

– Linen garments, tablelinens and bedlinens normally do not need the pre-washing (or soaking). However, if you are washing a linen item for the first time, it can be soaked briefly in lukewarm water before the wash to avoid creasing.

– A conventional machine wash and fast spin is recommended. Use hot iron while the linens are still slightly damp.

– Linen has a distinctive crispness which you should be able to achieve with a hot iron – no need to use starch. However, if you insist, tablelinens can be starched after the wash to achieve extra crisp finish.

– Wash linen articles separately from other materials, especially during the first wash, as natural fibres tend to loose lint (nap), which you don’t want ending up on your other items.

– To reduce creasing, load your washing machine half-way. This will also ensure linens get plenty of water while rinsing.

– Do not tumble dry your linens, as it may leave permanent creasing and it definitely shortens the life of linen. Statistically the percent of shrinkage in linen products is approximately 4-5% if dried naturally, but it increases to nearly 10-15% if linens get a good spin in a hot tumble dryer.

– Straighten out the linen after the wash before hanging it on the washing line.

– Fine hand-hemstitched items, such as above-mentioned Queen tablecloth, require extra care. If washed in a washing machine, low-temperature and low-spin setting is recommended. Never tumble dry fine hemstitched linens. Dry-cleaning is also recommended.

And last but not least, follow the instructions on the label attached to the linen item. They are there for a reason!

If you have any further enquiries about LinenMe products and how to care for them, please let us know. We are here to help.


Phyllis 2013-08-11 Reply

I want my linen sweater to shrink. Can I throw it in the washing machine and dry it even tho the tag says dry clean only?

linenme 2013-10-09 Reply


Your linen sweater can shrink if you put in the dryer. Please keep in mind, that good quality linen (european) shrinks 5%. If your sweater is produced somewhere in Asia, it might shrink till 10%.


jessica Connor 2013-09-03 Reply

I’ve just been given a cedar chest full of old linens. They smell of mildew but have no stains. Is there any way to remove the smell and is it harmful to our health to have it in our house.
Thank you,
Jessica Connor

linenme 2013-10-08 Reply


I’m sure you can wash all these linens. Please try to wash one piece using hand washing program and see how it comes. You can put some softener to get linen softer and get nice smell 🙂


Rita Schaefer 2013-09-24 Reply

I have a beautiful linen tablecloth hand made by my German mother-in-law. We think it is about 100 yrs.old. It is of the Last Supper.Her initials are on it also. It has stains but it dosen’t smell. Can I wash this?
Thank You, Rita Schaefer

linenme 2013-10-08 Reply

Hello Rita,

Thank you for your question. It is really difficult to give you suggestions without seeing this tablecloth.
It should be possible to wash tablecloth if it is 100% linen. If you decide to wash it, please try to wash by hand very carefully for the first time. I usually put some bleacher on my white table linens, which takes out stains and makes them whiter. But I do not think it is good idea on old linens.


John B. 2015-07-27 Reply

I have 10 yards of linen fabric I bought from a street market in Amsterdam. It smells musty. I was going to wash on the gentle cycle with some borax, which I hear gets rid of mold and mildew spores. Is this advisable?
Since the fabric is so long, I’m wondering how to dry it if tumble dry is not recommended. Lay it out in the back yard? I will use the heavy linen for men’s clothes.
Thanks. -John

linenme 2015-08-03 Reply


Most of linen can be washed in the machine with all standard washing powder. It should help you to get rid of smell. I usually put some fabric softener as well to make fabric softer.
You are right about drying fabric by laying it out.


Becky 2015-07-31 Reply

I have a tan linen skirt with black fabric sewn on it in the shape of flowers. I took it to the dry cleaners but they won’t wash it because they said the black dye will bleed onto the tan. How can I wash it? The care label reads “Dry clean. No steam.”
Thank you,

linenme 2015-08-03 Reply

Hello Becky,

If label says, that it’s only dry cleaning, then I have to say there is no other way to wash it. The only suggestion I can give you – try another dry cleaning company.


Jennifer 2016-01-06 Reply

I have purchased some 100% linen fabric to make curtains. The manufacturer states to dry clean. It is possible to wash this in cool water via machine and tumble dry with no heat and avoid shrinkage? “Goldmine Sterling, Jonathan Adler fabric,Kravet fabric 100% linen up the roll multi purpose decorator fabric. Made in U.S.A. 54″ wide”

linenme 2016-07-22 Reply

Dear Jennifer,

The best would be to check with manufacture if their curtains are pre-washed. If it was not then it will shrink despite cold water wash and low heat tumble dry. all LinenMe custom made curtains are pre-washed at 40 degrees to avoid shrinkage afterwards.


paula davis 2016-03-22 Reply

I ordered linen pant and they are huge. I wanted to see if I could order a smaller size and they are all out. So I need them to shrink at least 1 or two sizes any suggestion and also can I put fabric softener in the rinse cycle ? Thanks, Paula

linenme 2016-07-22 Reply

Dear Paula,

You should check with your retailer if their clothes are made from pre-washed fabric. All linen clothes sold on are prewashed, so they will not shrink anymore.
Yes you could use fabric softener washing linen.


Liz 2016-03-28 Reply

I found a beautiful pure linen ecru tablecloth while cleaning out my in laws home. There was a sticker on it that said ” pure linen, made in Yugoslavia” . Had never been used, until yesterday for our Easter dinner. Wondering how to clean it – no stains, just a couple of clear spills. Thank you

linenme 2016-07-22 Reply

Dear Liz,

It’s very difficult to judge about fabric having the only reference “Made in Yugoslavia”, but if it’s 100% linen you will minimize your risks by Washing it separately and in lowest possible temperatures.


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