I’m often asked about how to care for linen. Linen will shrink about 10% on the first washing and will lose a bit of it’s sheen as well as gain a matte texture and it’s famous wrinkle.
Linen is a natural material that derives from the flax plant. Since it isn’t a synthetic fabric, which often has engineered traits, it isn’t indestructible and over time you’ll find that your favorite linen pieces will soften and become thinner. I’ve worn linen tops to the point of shredding and I’ve sadly had to retire them. But hey, linen is biodegradable so even a worn out garment won’t rot in a landfill! Here are some tried and true methods to caring for your favorite linen products:
What causes linen to wear out over time is abrasion and the more abrasion we prevent, the longer the fabric will last. Abrasion is common in a few ways and a few places on the garment. Places of high wear can cause abrasion like in between legs on pants and under the armpit where our arms rub against our body.
Abrasion can also happen in the washing machine and dryer from articles of clothing rubbing against each other. Since we can’t prevent the way our body moves from creating abrasion, it’s best we focus on the washing machine and dryer. The less our fabrics rub against one another the less abrasion we cause so when washing linen in the washing machine, set the machine setting to “Delicate” and wash with only lighter weight materials and avoid washing garments with heavier fabrics like workwear and denim.
Next, I recommend laying linen flat to dry or hanging it on a clothesline to fully dry. This will prevent more abrasion in the dryer but after drying, your linen will feel a bit stiff. Tumble dry in the dryer for about 10 minutes to soften it up. Then press any areas that are wrinklier than desired, like hems and collars. I hope this helps give your linen fabrics a longer life!