November 08, 2022 4 min read

Linen is a centuries-old textile made from the flax plant, originating from ancient Egyptian times. Considering how far back linen dates, one would think you can treat it any way you’d like when it comes to washing and cleaning it. While this can be true, knowing how to wash linen does matter and will impact its lifespan.

How to Wash Linen - Drying a Linen Sheet

How to Wash Linen Properly

Washing Linen: One of the beautiful things about linen is that it becomes softer and more wonderful to use as it ages. Many people ask us, "can linen be washed?" The answer is yes; linen can be washed in many ways. It’s your choice on how you want to approach it. Since linen is a natural fiber, it can be washed in the washer with warm water (even hot if you’d like) but do know that it can shrink. While it’s hard to know exactly how much it will shrink, a good rule of thumb is that most linen fabrics will shrink up about 1-3 inches after their initial wash. Avoid using bleach as much as possible, as it is very hard on linen fibers and will break them down. Preferably, use something like OxiClean to whiten your whites. 

Note: If you are washing a linen apron with long ties, take the two ties and loosely tie them together before putting it in the wash. This will keep the ends from tangling up and wrapping around other items in the wash.

Drying Linen: Again, as was said above, linen can take a beating, so if you need to dry your linen with heat in the dryer, you absolutely can. That said, there are some things to keep in mind when drying linen. Remember, less heat is always preferable. Heat breaks down fibers, which will shorten the lifespan of your linen item (or any fiber, for that matter). So wash and dry on low heat, or hang dry when possible. I personally prefer to dry my linen items in the dryer for about half the time, then hang dry them for the second half. Bonus, hang drying in the fresh air makes everything smell and feel cleaner, and it helps avoid wrinkles.
How to Clean Linen - Folding Linen Hand Towels

Other Linen Cleaning Tips

Whether you're cleaning linen napkins, linen smocks, or bedding, these linen care tips will help you maximize the lifespan of your linen.

Removing Stains from Linen: Stains happen, and when they do, don’t despair! Linen is a hearty fabric that can take a beating. So, how do you remove stains from linen? If it’s not too harsh, a little soda water can help pull the stain out. If the stained linen needs more attention, try massaging some dish detergent on the linen with your finger. Proceed to wash it as you normally would. You can also make a paste of baking soda and water and apply that to the stain. Let it dry, then add a few drops of vinegar to create bubbles, which will help loosen the stain and (hopefully) remove it entirely.

Removing Wrinkles from Linen: Linen is famous for having that textured, lived-in look, but it can get some wrinkles. So, how do you get wrinkles out? In order to prevent wrinkles from the start, it’s a good idea to remove linen from the dryer before it is completely dry. Pull it out, give it a nice shake with a flick of your wrists, and hang it to dry fully. This will allow the linen to relax and have texture without large wrinkles appearing (which can happen when drying to the full extent possible in your dryer). If you do have light wrinkles, spray the linen item with water and give it a smooth over with your hands. If you need to iron your linen, you can, and adding a little steam to your iron when doing so can really help.
Bed Linen Cleaning 101

Linen Cleaning Questions to Consider

And lastly, here are some questions to consider when you are going to launder a linen product:

Has it already been washed prior to this?

Consider if the linen you are about to wash has been washed and dried before. This will help you know if it will shrink when you wash and dry it. If you are concerned with it shrinking, try only washing it in cold water and air drying. Some linen goods companies pre-wash their items, if this is the case, you don’t have to worry about shrinking.

Is it 100% linen, or is it combined with another fiber?

Many linens are not pure linen, and are often mixed with cotton, hemp, or rayon. Consider this before moving forward with washing. And above all else, enjoy it! Linen is made to be used and enjoyed, don’t avoid using it because it’s too special. Wear, cherish, wash, repeat.

Shop for Your Linens at Portland Apron Company

Now that you’ve learned how to wash linens, you’re ready to start enjoying this fun and fantastic fabric. Portland Apron Company’s linen products are machine washable and sewn right here in the USA. Whether you’re looking for kitchen & table linens or a pinafore apron, we have you covered! Browse our collection of high-quality apron products today!

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