How Do You Care For 100% Linen?


It is commonly thought that specialist care is required for linen bedding or any linen fabric. Well my friends, this is absolutely not true. Linen is a very, we mean very, low maintenance material. Despite misconceptions linen does not need to be dry cleaned or any such thing. Linen has been round for thousands of years, long before bringing your linen bedding to the dry cleaners was an option, and long before fancy high-end washing machines existed. Linen is dead simple to care for, but don’t worry, if you’re not sure how to we’re here to help.

Dry Cleaning Linen

Linen is a hardy fabric, and it certainly isn’t necessary to dry clean it. Not only is it not necessary, it’s not even what’s best for it. Linen sports jacket, blazers and suits can benefit from dry cleaning, but that is to do with how those garments have been tailored, it’s nothing to do with the fabric itself. Shirts, blouses, trousers and pretty much everything else, including bedding such as duvet covers and pillowcases is definitely better off not being dry cleaned. If for what every reason you have no alternative but to dry clean your linen bedding ok do it as opposed to sleeping in stinky sheets, but it’s probably best avoided if possible.

A general rule to live by is to wash items, whatever they may be, in line with the care instructions provided for it by the manufacturer. Linen is best washed at low temperature in cool to warm water, 40 degrees or lower ideally, on a gentle cycle. Washing at approx. 40 degrees helps ensure any dirt and grim on the fabric is removed and any washing detergent used during washing is dissolved and rinses free. We wouldn’t recommend any hotter than 40 degrees really, certainly no hotter than 60 degrees, whilst it is safe to do so it’s probably unnecessary and obviously it’s less energy efficient than washing at lower temperatures. An unusual property of linen’s is that it is actually stronger when wet than it is when it’s dry, so whilst other materials such as cotton can deteriorate or degrade with washing successively, linen does not. Linen simply gets softer and more absorbent with each wash.

We recommend mild eco-friendly detergents that are gentle and kind to the fabric. Seek out a detergent designed for delicate fabrics or baby clothes. Avoid scented detergents, or detergents containing dyes or pigments, as there can be pollutants in them. You shouldn’t ever bleach linen, even pure white linen, it’s damaging to the fibres in the fabric. You shouldn’t use fabric softener on linens either, as mentioned, linen gets softer just with washing anyway.

In this day and age most people obviously do their washing in a washing machine, but you can also hand wash linen if you so choose. As with machine washing, wash in warn water and use a mild detergent.  

Drying Linen

You can dry linen on a washing linen or similar such method, a clothes horse etc., but it’s also perfectly fine to dry linen bedding in a tumble dryer. Do set the tumble dryer to a low heat setting for best results. It’s also a good idea to remove it whilst still a little damp in order to let it dry that final last bit whilst hanging. If you like to iron your linen bedding, although that’s entirely optional, it will be easier to iron if you do so whilst still a little damp also.

Ironing Linen

We are advocates of linen in its beautifully messy natural state, all creased and crinkled. Unless you really want to, or it really is too creased, there is no need to iron linen we would suggest. But if you do feel the need, a medium to hot steam iron is recommended, and as mentioned above, ironing while it’s still a little damp will make your life that bit easier.

Linen Storage

The best storage advice for linen is in a cool dry cupboard. Avoid storing in plastic bags or boxes. If you have just taken linen out of storage after a very long time give it a good air, or if you prefer you can of course give it a wash.

How to Remove Troublesome Stains From Linen

General care advice is all well and good, but what happens when there’s been an accident of some sort involving your favourite linen duvet cover. Well fear not, here’s what to do in the instance of the most common mishaps.

  • Pen – should you have accidentally marked your linen duvet with a biro or ballpoint pen, place a towel over the stain, then spray the reverse of the fabric, directly behind the stain with hair spray. Be sure to spray quite closely, then having done so lift the towel from over the stain and the mark should have transferred onto the towel. If this has worked, but only partially, repeat the process until the stain has been fully removed.
  • Red Wine – if you decided to finish off that bottle of red wine in bed, but managed to spill some on the duvet, fear not, this is a salvageable situation. Firstly do try not to spread the stain once it has occurred, putting a towel directly behind the stain can help with this. Dab or blot the stain itself then to the front with something like a clean cloth or a paper towel. Be careful not to rub the stain though as this could have the opposite effect, rubbing the wine into the fabric. Once you’ve removed all excess liquid with a dry cloth or paper towel, then dab with a damp cloth. This keeps the stain from drying out and will help absorb further liquid. If there is still some residual wine, with a towel still behind the stain using table salt, create a small pile of salt on top of the stain. Leave there for a few minutes until you see the salt become discoloured by the wine, before brushing it off into the bin. The salt is highly absorbent and will pull the wine out of the fabric and into itself. Other methods for removing red wine are to dab as before with dry then damp cloths before then pouring sparkling water through the stain. Dabbing then pouring, then dabbing then pouring until the stain vanishes.
  • Greasy Marks – the best remedy to greasy marks in linen or indeed any material is to apply washing up liquid like Fairy washing up liquid directly onto the stain. Leave to work for a few minutes before rinsing it out. As it does with grease on dishes, washing up liquid cuts through the grease and it does so without damaging the fabric. Before putting into the washing machine then, apply some of your normal washing detergent directly on to the stain before washing at the highest safe temperature (60 degrees typically for linen).