A Complete Guide to Washing Your Linen Clothes

Linen is a beautiful, natural fabric that has been existing for many years. It’s best worn during warm weather or in places with temperate climates.

If you have linen garments or planning to buy some fashionable pieces, we can help you take care of them. You don’t have to wonder how to wash linen clothes anymore.

All About Linen

washing linen clothes

What is Linen?

Linen is an organic textile made from the fibers of flax plant stems. It is commonly used in warmer places due to its ability to dry quickly and reduce heat retention. Linen manufacturing is more labor and resource-intensive than cotton, making it a precious fabric.

Linen also has antibacterial properties. Harmful germs and bacteria would less likely survive in the closely woven fibers of the fabric.

What is the origin of linen?

Linen is of the oldest textiles that date back to prehistoric times. As early as 36,000 years ago, Neolithic people in Europe created this fabric. Archeologists reveal that even if they traced its roots to Europe, linen was domesticated in Mesopotamia, where it was primarily used by royalty.

It was in Egypt that the widespread use of linen began. The climate of this African country inspired the creation of apparel that resisted the heat of the sun and allowed the fast cooling of sweat.

What are the types of linen?

  • Plain Woven Linen – It’s a popular material for hand and dish towels.
  • Damask Linen – This delicate type of linen is made in a jacquard loom. It produces a fabric that has ornate details similar to embroidery.
  • Sheeting Linen – This type of linen is commonly used for apparel due to its coarse weave and soft, untextured surface.
  • Loosely-woven linen – This highly absorbent variety of linen is a common material for sanitary napkins and reusable diapers. It is also the least durable among all linen types.

What are the uses of linen?

how to care for linen clothing

Linen fabric has many applications, which include the following:

For Homeware

  • table cloth
  • table napkins
  • kitchen towels
  • hand towels
  • bath towels

For Beddings

  • Bedsheets
  • Pillowcases

For Apparel

  • Pants
  • Skirts
  • Dresses
  • Dressing robes
  • nightgowns
  • Lingerie
  • underwear
  • Jackets
  • Blazers
  • Shirts
  • vests

For Industrial Use

  • Painting canvas
  • bandages

Linen is most often compared to cotton, another natural fabric. They both can survive hand or machine wash. Linen is a strong, durable fabric that can last many years. It’s truly worth owning linen apparel.

Washing Linen Clothes

how to wash linen shirt

Like any organic fiber, most types of linen can handle handwashing or machine washing. Here are simple instructions that you need to follow to ensure your linen comes out clean and damage-free.

How to Machine-Wash Linen Clothes

  1. Separate white from dark-colored linen. It would be best not to wash linen apparel with other fabrics such as denim and towels to avoid damage or discoloration.
  2. Button up clothes with buttons and keep zippers up.
  3. Set the water temperature to a low setting- about 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Choose the gentle machine cycle setting.
  5. Once you have filled the washing machine with water, add a mild detergent. Check the manufacturer label for the proper measurements.
  6. Place the linen clothes in the washer and start the cycle.
  7. It would be best to air dry your linen clothes rather than use the dryer. Hang the garments using padded hangers and dry in a well-ventilated area or outdoors.

Check out this helpful video on washing versus dry cleaning linen clothes.

How to Handwash Linen Clothes

It would help to use this method for linen garments with looser weaves since they might get easily damaged in the washing machine. You can also handwash clothes that are not heavily soiled.

  1. Fill a clean basin with lukewarm water. Ensure that the basin does not have any soap residue or dirt.
  2. Add a teaspoon of mild detergent.
  3. Place the linen garment and soak in the soap and water mixture for ten minutes.
  4. Gently swish the garment back and forth. Make sure not to scrub or wring the fabric to avoid any damage.
  5. Drain the sudsy water and replenish it with clean, lukewarm water.
  6. Rinse the linen fabric repeatedly until there are no more suds.
  7. Place a towel on a clean, flat surface and lay the fabric on top of it. Carefully roll the towel to remove excess moisture from the garment.
  8. Remember not to wring or twist the garment to prevent any damage.
  9. Use a padded hanger to hang your garment. If the weather permits, you can hang it outdoors. You can also dry them in a well-ventilated area indoors.

Removing Stains and Ironing Linen Clothes

how to take care of linen clothes

Removing Stains from Linen Clothes

Sometimes your linen clothes might get spills or dirt on them. It can get very annoying when these things happen. However, there are ways to manage the stain to bring back the beauty of your precious linen apparel.

Using bleach to remove stains is only applicable to other fabrics, but it is not recommended for linen garments. Bleach can discolor the fabric and weaken the flax fibers.

The key to removing stains in linen clothes is to manage them as soon as possible. Try these hacks to remove those nasty stains.

  1. Do a spot cleaning and treat the stain with white vinegar, club soda, or baking soda.
  2. Blot the stain with a paper towel. Avoid scrubbing the affected area.
  3. If spot cleaning does not do its job, apply a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Gently rub the stained part.
  4. Make a soaking solution from ½ cup mild detergent and a bucketful of water. Leave the garment for 10 minutes.
  5. Wash the linen clothing in the washing machine using the instructions outlined above. For more delicate linen apparel, use the handwashing method instead.

Ironing Linen Clothes

Linen garments do not need ironing. Their inherent crumples and creases give them a soft, relaxed, and natural feel. However, if they get too wrinkled for your taste, you can still iron them using these simple steps.

  1. Ironing linen clothing will be more effective if you use steam or moisture. It would be best to iron the garment while it is still damp.
  2. Choose the linen setting of your iron and iron the garment.
  3. If the fabric is dry, to begin with, spray some water while you’re ironing. You may also use a steam iron instead.
  4. To keep the linen fabric neat and crisp-looking even after many uses, spray it with sizing while you’re ironing. It’s like spray starch but has a lighter consistency and does not stiff the fabric. Sizing is commonly used to give natural fibers body and keep them wrinkle-free.

Washing and Storing Tips for Your Linen Clothes

casual linen clothes

Many people love linen for its versatility and durability. It’s a favorite material for summer apparel due to its breathable nature. To keep your linen clothes in tiptop shape for a long time, we’ve outlined more washing and care tips. These hacks can help you retain linen’s natural beauty and comfort.

Linen Clothes Washing Tips

  1. Some prewashed linen garments do not shrink after washing. However, it would help if you used the recommended water temperature stated on the garment’s care label.
  2. Clothes made from pure linen fabric can thrive in either handwashing or machine washing methods. However, some apparel uses other materials for lining and trims, so it would help to check the proper care for them.
  3. Always check the garment’s care instructions. Not following them can shrink or damage your precious clothes.
  4. Avoid loading too many clothes in the washing machine. A crowded load can pull or twist the linen fabrics, making them prone to damage.
  5. Linen clothes tend to shrink, so avoid washing them in hot water. Water temperature of more than 40 degrees celsius can shrink your garment. Lukewarm water is the best temperature to work with.
  6. You could always bring your stained linen clothes for dry cleaning when in doubt. Professional cleaners will know how to effectively remove stains without damaging your clothes.

Storage Tips for Your Linen Clothes

Since most linen clothes are summer apparel, you will need to think about storing them during colder months. Here are some tips on storing linen clothes to keep them nice and fresh until the warmer season.

  1. Keep your linen clothes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Linen is a natural fiber that needs to breathe to maintain its quality.
  2. Do not store them in cedar chests, cardboard boxes, or plastic bags. You can use linen bags, old pillowcases, or laundry bags to keep your linen apparel.
  3. Linen fabric has inherent insect-repellant characteristics, so it’s safe from moths and other insects.
  4. Ensure that your linen clothes are completely dry before storing them to avoid molds and mildew.
  5. When it’s time to use your linen garments again, you could give them a good airing. You could also wash them in mild detergent to revive their freshness.


Linen is an easy fabric to maintain. It can survive handwashing, machine washing, ironing, and air drying. You don’t have to give too much effort to keep them clean and presentable. The key is to follow the instructions on how to wash linen clothes carefully, and you’ll have clothes to last you for a long time.

washing linen shirts

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