How to take care of Linen
We don’t like to play favourites when it comes to fabrics but we do love linen.
There, we said it. Not only is it super breathable and absorbent, it’s also eco-friendly, long-lasting and great for year-round wear (amongst other things!).
Linen might look all fancy-schmancy, but it’s actually a fuss-free, low-maintenance fabric. That being said, it’s not completely effortless – you still need to take extra care to ensure your favourite linen threads look their best after every wash.
There are two ways you can damage your linen; by accidentally removing the colour when trying to remove stains, and by shrinking it.
Help, I’ve stained my favourite linen shirt. What should I do?
When it comes to stains, it’s best to start removing them while they’re fresh.
Simply remove the stain residue, and then apply a little bit of our Laundry Detergent directly to the stain, to spot treat (make you gently rub the area instead of an intense scrub to avoid any damage).
Wait about 5 minutes, but not longer (even detergent can lift colour from some linens - especially those of the stone washed and naturally dyed variety).
Then pop it straight into the washing machine and wash with cold or lukewarm water. You don’t need a wool and delicate detergent for linen, it can perfectly withstand the enzymes in our Original Laundry Detergent or Advanced Wash.
Things to keep mind:
- Don’t use bleach to spot treat your linen as it will weaken the fibers and alter the colour of dyed linens (this includes our spot stain treater and soaker - keep them away from your linens)
- Don't leave the spt treat laundry detergent on for too long - linen is a bit finicky at holding colour so even a good clean can make for uneven colour patches
- Always follow the garment care instructions and patch test everything first
Is it true that linen shrinks in the wash?
It’s true. Linen does shrink (about 4% on average for pure linens) in the wash, due to their fabric manufacturing process. Linen is a woven textile made from flax fibres that are stretched during their creation. When it becomes wet (i.e. gets washed) for the first time after manufacturing, this stretch will retract, making the linen seem ‘smaller’.
We get it, it’s a pain, and it seems like the manufacturers know this too, which is why it’s pretty common to see ‘pre-washed’ labels these days. When you choose pre-washed linen, your fabric won’t shrink as much when you wash it for the first time.
The good news is, there are a few ways to minimise shrinkage:
Always use cold to lukewarm water for both hand washing and machine washing, as very cold water and higher temperatures (we’re talking 40° C or more) will increase the likelihood of shrinkage
When it comes to drying your linen threads, hang them to dry outside (preferably flat so they don’t lose their shape) instead of using a dryer
But if your favourite linen has shrunk and you want to take matters into your own hands, there is a way to ‘unshrink’ it so to speak.
Simply re-wash your linen and line dry until it’s damp. Then, using a low-mild temperature on your iron, iron outwards, starting from the centre. Use a firm but gentle pressing motion to stretch the fabric back to its original size but be careful not to press too hard.
Hand wash vs Machine wash
Great news, you can do both!
If you prefer to machine wash, make sure you separate your darks from your whites to avoid any colour transfer, and always use a gentle cycle as linen is a lightweight fabric.
It’s important to not overload your washing machine too as it might twist or pull your linen threads out of shape. Use a regular detergent and don’t use fabric softener, as the chemicals within the softener will reduce the absorbency abilities of your linen (i.e making it less breathable).
Fun fact: linen naturally softens with every wash!
And there you have it, our top tips and tricks to wash your linen like a pro! Find out how to wash your sweatiest activewear with Dirt here.