How to Wash Linen Clothes: A Linen Care Guide

How to Wash Linen Clothes: A Linen Care Guide

We love linen clothing, it give that luxurious feel in the summer where cool drinks or ice cream (or both!) are a necessity- but we're all guilty of a little spill or stain from time to time. Linen is a natural fiber and so requires a bit of extra care to maintain its effortless look and longevity. Incorrect washing techniques can lead to shrinking, fading, and damage, quickly turning your favourite linen pieces into a disappointment. 

To enjoy your summer linen looks for years to come, it's important to know how to wash linen correctly. In this article, we'll explore the ins and outs of linen care, from the best washing methods to stain removal, drying techniques, and storage tips.

How often should linen clothes & sheets be washed?

Linen is a natural fiber from the flax plant. Linen fabric is a breathable and durable material that naturally resists dirt and odors, which means it usually requires less frequent washing compared to other materials. As a general guideline, you can wash your linen sheets once every one to two weeks, though you may need to wash them more often if you have pets that shed hair on the bedding.

For linen clothing, you can typically wear items few times before washing, unless you spill something on them or notice an unpleasant odor. The key is to check the care labels, as some linen garments may require special washing instructions or gentler detergent sheets. By following the recommended washing frequency, you can extend the lifespan of your linen pieces while keeping them fresh and looking their best.

INSIDER TIP: For quality linen fabric clothing checkout the linen clothing for women and linen clothing for men at the Australian brand ORTC.

How to Wash Linen Clothes in Washing Machine

Linen Care Tips

Washing linen clothes in a washing machine is convenient and efficient but to keep them looking great, it's important to use the right techniques. To prevent damage or wear from the first wash, careful handling of linen will help to keep its luxurious natural fabric texture, prevent shrinkage and avoid wrinkles.

Before putting your linen clothes in the washing machine,  its best to sort them by colour and fabric type. Keep white, light, and dark linens separate, ideally where possibly wash your linen separately. Don't mix them with heavy fabrics like hoodies, denim or towels. This can cause friction, pilling or damage to the delicate linen fibres. You wouldn't want your white linen shirt to be damaged by ruined by washing them with your jeans right?

Once you've sorted your linen clothes, follow these tips for machine-washing:

  1. Turn your linen clothes inside out before washing to protect the outer fabric from abrasion and fading.
  2. Always wash your linen with the delicate or gentle cycle on your washing machine, and avoid high-spin speeds that can cause excessive wrinkling or warping of the fabric.
  3. Always check the care label for each garment but as a general rule; Select a lukewarm water temperature, ideally between 30°C (86°F) and 40°C (104°F). Linen will usually shrink in hotter water.
  4. Opt for a mild, pH-neutral detergent specifically formulated for delicate fabrics. Avoid harsh detergents, dyes or bleaching agents, as these can damage the linen. Our detergent sheets are perfect great for this! (besides being eco friendly and all that jazz!)
  5. Linen naturally gets softer with every wash and Stonewashed linen is usually at its softest, so using fabric softener is not recommended. Our fabric softener is fantastic for the rest of your laundry though!
  6. Avoid overloading the washing machine, as this can cause the linen garments to become twisted or tangled, leading to potential stretching or distortion.
  7. After the cycle is complete, quickly remove the linen clothes from the machine to prevent excessive wrinkling.

Remember, linen naturally looks a bit rumpled and lived-in so don't worry about getting it perfectly wrinkle-free ! Enjoy the casual elegance and breathable comfort of your linen clothes during the warmer months.

How to Hand Wash Linen Clothes

Hand-washing takes more effort but is the best way to wash, as it is gentler and works well for delicate or pure linen. Its definitely the bet linen care for those items with finer detail or looser weaves. Fill a sink with lukewarm water and a bit of mild detergent made for delicate fabrics. Put the linen in and swish it gently. Avoid twisting or wringing as it can damage the fibers. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes, then rinse well with clean water until all soap is gone.

Carefully press the water out of the linen, but don’t twist or wring it. Lay the items flat or hang them in a shady spot to dry, as sunlight can easily fade the fabric. When dry, mist the linen with water or use a steamer to smooth out wrinkles before wearing or storing. Always check the care label before steaming or ironing though.

How to clean a stain on linen

It can happen on that summer day that your ice creams drips on your linen pants! Dealing with stains on linen can be tricky, but don't worry – with the right steps, you can remove even the toughest blemishes and keep your linen looking fresh.

Act fast when you notice a stain. The longer a stain sits, the harder it is to remove. Immediately tackle any spills or discoloration to prevent the stain from settling into the linen fibers.

To start, rinse or soak the stained area in cold water as soon as you can. This helps dilute and lift the stain before it sets. Avoid hot water, as it can bake the stain in and make it more permanent.

For stubborn or set stains, you might need a mild  pre-treatment solution. Choose products made for delicate fabrics like linen, or try natural options like a mix of baking soda and white vinegar.

Before using any stain remover, test it on a small hidden area of the fabric to check for any discoloration or damage. If it’s safe, gently apply the solution to the stain. Be careful not to rub too hard, as this can damage the fibers.

For light-colored or white linen, sunlight can help remove stains (whilst dark linen should not be put in direct sun). Lay the item in direct sunlight for a short period. The sun’s natural bleaching effect can help clear up tougher discoloration.

If the stain remains after washing, consider taking the item to a professional dry cleaner. Dry cleaners have special techniques and solvents that can remove tough stains without harming the linen.


Do I need to dry clean linen?

While linen is known for being easy to wear and is often machine washable, sometimes dry cleaning is a better choice. This can help keep your linen garments looking good for longer.

Always start by checking the care label on your linen clothing. If it says "Dry Clean Only," follow that guidance. Some high-quality linen items, especially those with embellishments, intricate designs, or mixed fabrics, need the specialized care that dry cleaning offers. This helps avoid damage or color bleeding.

If your linen has stubborn stains or marks that have set in, consider dry cleaning. Dry cleaners use specialized techniques and solutions that can remove tough stains without harming the linen fibers.

If you choose to dry clean your linen, tell the dry cleaner about any specific concerns, like shrinkage or handling delicate fabrics. A good dry cleaner with experience in natural fibers like linen will provide the right care.

Whether you dry clean or wash at home depends on the garment, its care label, and any tough stains. By following the right care methods, that expensive linen shirt can keep its breathable, luxurious feel for many seasons.

How to dry your linen

Drying linen may seem simple, but it requires careful handling to keep the fabric looking beautiful and undamaged. 

We don't recommend machine drying or tumble drying but it is a convenient method for drying. If your linen items are pre-washed and pre-shrunk, using a dryer is usually safe as long as you follow the care instruction. However, always use a low or delicate heat setting and take the items out while they're still slightly damp. Over-drying can make linen stiff, brittle, and very wrinkly, spray them a bit with water if this happens.

Air-drying is the best way to dry your linen clothes. It helps preserve the fabric's natural texture and reduces wrinkles. Lay flat on a drying rack or hang your linen on a clothesline or hanger in the shade. Avoid direct sunlight to prevent fading. Use rust-proof hangers or clothespins to avoid marks or creases.

When air-drying, reshape and smooth the linen while it's damp. This minimizes wrinkles and keeps the shape of your items. You can mist the linen with water or use a handheld steamer to ease stubborn wrinkles.

Do I need to iron linen?

linen ironing

If you love the casual and natural look of linen's wrinkles, you might skip ironing. Just air-dry your linen items and smooth them out with your hands. This can give you a beautifully rumpled finish that really shows off linen's charm.

But, if you want a sharper, crisper look for special occasions, ironing your linen can make a big difference. Laundry experts suggest ironing linen while it's still a bit damp. This helps the heat and steam from the iron smooth out wrinkles and creases without damaging the fabric or making it too shiny.

White linen looks best when ironed on both sides. This method gives a crisp, clean finish. It spreads the heat and steam evenly through the fabric. Ironing both sides removes wrinkles better and boosts the fabric's shine. Press gently and use steam for the best results. This keeps white linen looking smooth and elegant.

When ironing linen, set your iron to a high heat, like the "linen" or "cotton" setting, and use lots of steam. You can mist the fabric with water or use a damp cloth on top to create extra steam. This helps release wrinkles more effectively.

To summarize

In the end, caring for linen clothes just takes a little extra attention to keep it at it's best. Always check the care instructions first to decide if you should hand or machine wash, and be gentle when washing and drying. Use correct temperature water and mild detergent, and avoid washing with rough items, too much heat or wringing the fabric. Treat any stains quickly using safe methods and gentle natural products. 
Let your linen items air dry in the shade when possible, and gently reshape with your hands to minimize wrinkles. Don't stress over getting every last wrinkle out - that lived-in, casual look is part of linen's natural charm.
With some basic knowledge and care, your favorite linen pieces can keep their breathable comfort and luxurious feel for many summers to come. A little effort goes a long way in making your linen clothing last.