Once you already have your dream linen dress or another linen garment in your hands, you might wonder how to take care of this precious new purchase from now on and how to wash linen clothes and not damage it.
Indeed, washing your linen clothes is not your" usual and ordinary laundry" routine. But one of the misconceptions about this fact is it does not require professional laundry washing service kind of care.
If you are one of them, do not worry because linen is an ancient natural fabric that has been beloved by many people across the globe for thousands of years.
Even today, it is one of the most prized and valued textiles globally because, other than its inherent character, caring for it is pretty simple.
So let's deep dive into our how to wash linen guide.
How To Wash Linen?
It might look like linen is super delicate and challenging to take care of, but in reality, it’s not that complicated as it might seem at first.
It’s always best to learn how to take care of your linen garment from the label attached to it, but it also helps to have some general knowledge.
You can both machine wash and hand wash linen.
Machine Linen Washing
- Separate white, dark, and colored linens. For best results, wash separately from other fabrics. Do not mix it with heavy items like towels, denim to avoid any damage.
- Prepare the laundry by turning them inside out. Button up all the buttons and zip up the zippers.
- Make sure your laundry has enough space so it could rinse properly.
- Choose low temperatures and lukewarm waters (<40°C/104°F).
- Use the gentle machine cycle.
- Use a mild detergent, meant for delicate fibers.
- Do not bleach. Bleach and detergents with optical brighteners tend to weaken the fibers and may cause discoloration.
- No need for the softener, since linen naturally gets softer with every wash, and stonewashed linen is already at its maximum softness, thus softener will only weaken the fibers reducing their absorbency and moisture-wicking properties.
- If you are scared to dye the white hems of your linen items, though this should not be the case since all our colors are fixed, however, using a dye trapping sheet while washing your dress might ease your discomfort!
Hand Linen Washing
Hand washing is recommended for not heavily soiled clothes or for linen fabric with a loose weave.
This might be more easily damaged during a machine wash. Fill a small container with lukewarm water and add about a teaspoon of mild detergent. Submerge the linen garment in lukewarm water and let it soak for about 10 minutes.
Gently make a gentle back and forth swish motion on linen clothes. Never twist, or scrub as it can damage the fabric. Drain the soapy water and repeatedly rinse until the soap is all gone.
Do not wring linen to remove excess water or even twist or scrub the fabric at all since this can ruin your garment. Carefully roll each item in a towel to remove moisture.
Hang your linen dress on a padded hanger for drying to avoid wrinkles and even ironing!
Does Linen Shrink in Wash?
The linen can shrink if not washed correctly. The most important thing is to carefully read the label on the garment and follow it.
Always select a lower wash temperature, which must be under 40 Degrees Celsius/104 degrees Fahrenheit. Use natural detergent meant for delicate fabric and avoid using a softener. It’s completely unnecessary as linen fabric becomes softer by itself with every wash naturally.
Keep in mind that linen can shrink by 3-10 % during the very first wash. To avoid that, you can pre-wash linen garments in cold water unless what is written in its labeled care instructions mentions otherwise.
Take note that hot water and high dryer heat tend to shrink linen fabric.
Should you Wash Linen that Says Dry clean Only?
This interesting question will give you peace of mind for all your clothing items that say “Dry Clean Only.” If the tag declares “Dry Clean Only,” it does not mean that it cannot be washed. It is up to you and your budget, so professionals can clean them through the dry cleaning method.
The more structured tailored items such as linen jackets or blazers are better washed “dry clean.”
Labeled dry clean linen items can be hand-washed, even machine washed on a gentle cycle, and will not cause you any serious trouble.
But if you got the money and have no time, then dry cleaning is the best for you since it will save you a lot of effort, even stress trying to hang dry your clothes and so on.
What else do you need to know about washing linen clothing apparel?
Linen is a natural and delicate fabric that is easy to care for. Simply follow this guiding principle for your favorite linen clothing to be wearable for many lovely years.
Always trust what’s written on the label, mainly using the delicate, gentle washing cycle and letting linen garments air dry, preferably outside.
How To Wash Linen Dresses?
Always check the label that states the manufacturer's care instructions before washing.
Many linen dresses are blended with other fabrics that may require special care treatment. It is highly recommended to wash linen dresses with dark or bold colors in cold water to prevent discoloration or color fading.
Whether hand or machine washed, always remember to turn your linen dresses inside out, button up all the buttons, and zip all the zippers.
Ensure that the washing machine inner drum has some extra space for the garments to be rinsed properly and always have the machine water level filled at the maximum. This provides space for your linen dresses to move freely in the machine and avoid any chance of being twisted or pulled out of shape with other items. So better wash it only with lightweight clothing such as cotton.
After the wash, it’s best to hand the dress on a padded hanger to air dry. If you have no time for that, use your dryer, leaving your dress at least a bit damp to air dry after.
How To Wash Linen Shirts?
Make sure to button all the buttons and turn your shirt inside out. Choose to wash all your linen clothes together, avoiding mixing them with other fabrics, particularly the weighty ones like jeans and wool.
Avoid using fabric softener as it may leave residue on your linen shirt. Never use bleach, even if it is a white linen shirt. Bleach is linen’s kryptonite, and its worst nightmare as any kind of bleach makes your linen clothing rip or wear out much quicker.
Once washed, hang the shirt on a padded hanger so that it would dry smoothly. Use only padded hangers because some hard-textured ones may cause impact or scratch linen shirts or rip out some delicate trim on collared-linen shirts. Take care of your linen shirts.
How To Wash Linen Pants?
Follow the exact instructions for the dresses and shirts for washing linen pants. When washed, it’s best to hand the pants by the sides so that they would dry smoothly and without any prominent crease wrinkles if you would hand them by their middle part.
Always wash dark linen pants with dark clothing and lighter-colored pants with other light-colored clothing. As usual, never wash your precious white linen pants with other bright-colored clothing unless you want it to transform into “pastel-colored linen pants.”
Now, you can see why many people love linen, not only because of its surprising and beneficial inherent qualities. It is also machine and hands washable, hang-air dryable, and, more importantly, may not require any ironing at all.
Easy! Not to mention, the crumple, crease, and wrinkles on your linen clothes bring out the charm and a casual look naturally!
1. How About Drying?
Even though tumble drying will make no harm to your linen items, it’s not worth it, since linen dries very quickly. Hang your linen dress on a patted hanger for drying to avoid wrinkles and even ironing!
If you have no time for air drying, still, make sure you take your linen dress out still a bit damp for the final stage of drying on a hanger!
Anyway, if you are looking for more tips - read our guide on how to dry linen.
2. How About Ironing?
- Linen loves the iron, the question is for how long your dress will stay pressed, since linen, like any other natural fiber, has the tendency to wrinkle, crumple and crease! With linen, it’s easy, though, since the fact is universally accepted and carries no shame!
- If you really want an item pressed, give your linen item a good spritz with plain cool water or overlay it with a damp towel and let the moisture penetrate it. Set the medium-hot iron on the steam setting.
- White linen is better ironed on both sides, whilst dark linen should be pressed only on the reverse side.
For more info, here is a detailed guide on how to iron linen clothes.