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How to care for linen

  • October 8, 2019
  • HobyClean Customer Service

Q. My linen has been dry cleaned. Can I wash it back to softness?

If your linen item has been pre-washed it won’t shrink further and should be safe to wash, but use very low temperatures to be safe. Fabric softener should help too.

Q. Do linen products need treating before first use?

Sometimes retailers will tell you to soak your linen in cold water and vinegar before use. This may be because the linen is poor quality and requires softening, or they are worried about the colors fading.

Q. Why do I get lint from linen tea towels?

The looser the weave, the greater the amount of hair produced, so choose a tighter weave, like the fabric we use in our highly absorbent tea towels. Washing a few times may reduce the lint deposited if the fabric is good quality.

Q. Will my linens shrink?

If your items have not been pre-washed there is a chance that they will shrink after the first wash. Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions and choose low temperatures in the wash and tumble dryer. Good quality European linen shrinks 5% on first wash, which is why we always pre-wash our linen before we sell it. Poorer standard linens will shrink more.

Q. How can I avoid pilling?

Use tightly woven linen fabrics and wash in a detergent with enzymes to reduce pilling. It’s not possible to completely avoid it, but this should minimize it.

Q. Should I use fabric softener on linen products?

Yes, its fine to use fabric softener to add extra softness for bedding or towels, but it’s not essential as linen softens naturally with every wash. Adding a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to the wash will have the same effect (but lemon juice may affect color-fastness).

Q. Why is my linen fading?

Color fading occurs when linen has not been properly processed. A reputable manufacturer will ensure that dyes are fixed. Fading will be worse on the first wash, and then should reduce. Use gentle detergent, low temperatures and avoid shoddy quality linen.

Q. Can I use bleach on linen?

It’s ok to use bleach on good quality white linen items, but you should never use it on colored or poorer standard linen fabrics. Always read your garment’s care instructions, and avoid using bleach on older or vintage linens.

Q. Should I pre-wash linen fabric before sewing?

Yes, as the linen will shrink when first washed and this can make it tricky to get sizing right if you are sewing with the fabric. Once you’ve washed it and made your garments, good quality linen won’t shrink again if washed properly.

Q. How do I iron my linen tablecloth?

Linen fabrics have natural crinkles and creases in, but if you want something crisper and more formal here’s what to do. While the item is still damp give it a good shake and then crack, as if cracking a whip. Turn inside out (if clothing) and lay on a towel. Iron whilst still damp on as low a temperature as possible. Fold and store once it’s dry.

We hope that gives you all the information you need to keep your linen products looking great and performing brilliantly. The key is to buy only good quality linens from a reputable manufacturer. You will save money in the long run – even if the products are more expensive initially, they will last far longer than cheaper, lower quality fabric and won’t need replacing as much (which is also great for sustainability). And they will need less care. Which leaves you time for all the other things you’d rather be doing.

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