Can You Wash Linen In A Washing Machine?

Yes, you can safely wash linen in a washing machine without risking stretching or shrinking. However, it’s important to follow the care label instructions to maintain the fabric’s quality and longevity.

Linen, made from the natural fibre flax, is capable of absorbing a lot of water and can be safely washed either by hand or in a washing machine. If any damage occurs, it’s usually due to the fabric’s quality or the chemicals used in laundry products.

But is there more to washing linen than just throwing it in the machine? Keep reading to learn more essential tips on everything from removing stubborn stains to properly storing your linen to ensure it lasts for years.

How To Wash Linen In A Washing Machine

laundry room with pile of clothes

Washing linen in a machine is straightforward, but it requires attention to detail to preserve the fabric’s integrity. To wash linen in a washing machine:

  • Always check the label for any special laundry instructions or recommended detergents for some linen items.
  • Separate linens into half loads by colours, keeping lighter and darker clothes apart. Turn items inside out for better cleaning results.
  • Wash linen separately from other fabric types. Avoid including heavy items like towels, jeans, and hoodies in the same wash.
  • Use lukewarm water (no more than 40°C/104°F) to prevent shrinkage and weakening of fibres.
  • Select a gentle cycle with a long soaking period, short wash phase, rinse, and short spin.
  • Ensure there’s enough space in the washing machine drum to reduce creasing.
  • Choose a mild detergent designed for delicate materials. Do not use bleach or brightening detergents, as they can weaken fibres and cause colour changes.
  • Remove items immediately after the cycle completes to prevent creases.
  • Air-dry your clothes by hanging them on an outdoor line or lay them flat to dry.

Note: Using fabric softeners, in liquid form or as dryer sheets, can weaken the linen fibres and form a coating that reduces how well they absorb and manage moisture.

How To Hand Wash Linen

Linen

For delicate linen items or when you prefer a gentler approach, hand washing is an excellent option. Follow these steps to hand wash linen:

  • Fill a bucket or sink with lukewarm water and mix in a teaspoon of gentle detergent.
  • Soak the linen clothing for about 10 minutes.
  • Gently move the garment back and forth in the water, avoiding squeezing, twisting, or scrubbing.
  • Rinse thoroughly until no soap suds remain.
  • Hang the garment to dry.

How To Dry Linen

Proper drying is just as important as washing when it comes to maintaining your linen items. The way you dry your linen can affect its texture, appearance, and longevity. 

You can tumble dry pre-washed linen on a low or no heat setting, remove it while damp, and complete the drying by air. Never use high heat as it can cause significant shrinkage.

Air drying is also a great option that not only saves electricity but also makes your linens softer. Give your linens a shake before hanging them or laying them out to dry, and halfway through drying, lay them on a white towel to avoid stiffness.

Pro-tip: If you prefer your linens to be neatly pressed, iron them using a medium-hot iron while the fabric is damp, or lay a moist towel on top.

How To Remove Stains From Linen

bicarbonate of soda

Act quickly on stains as soon as they appear to prevent deep-setting.

For small stains, soak the linen in a mix of water and detergent or dab with soda water. If unsuccessful, gently rub washing-up liquid on the stain until it lifts, then wash normally.

For stubborn stains, use bicarbonate of soda and vinegar, then press a kitchen towel to absorb moisture.

How Often Should You Wash Linen?

Linen’s durability and breathability mean it doesn’t need frequent washing. 

Linen sheets can typically be washed every week or every other week, depending on exposure to dirt or pet hair. Linen clothes can be worn several times unless stained or smelly.

How To Store Linen Properly

Ensure linens are thoroughly dried to prevent mildew. Don’t store your linen in plastic; rather, use linen bags or old pillowcases. Store linen in cool, dry places with good airflow, and not exposed to direct sunlight. 

SEE ALSO: Can You Tumble Dry Linen? (does it shrink or is it safe)

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you machine wash linen?

Yes, you can machine wash linen without risking stretching or shrinking, but make sure to follow the care label instructions to maintain the fabric’s quality.

Which washing machine setting for linen?

The best washing machine setting for linen is a gentle cycle with a long soaking period, a short wash phase, a rinse, and a short spin.

What temperature do you wash linen?

You should wash linen in lukewarm water, no more than 40°C (104°F), to prevent shrinkage and weakening of fibres.

Do you need to wash linen separately?

Yes, you need to wash linen separately from other fabric types and avoid including heavy items like towels, jeans, and hoodies in the same wash.

Does linen shrink when washed?

Linen can shrink when washed, especially if exposed to high temperatures, so it’s important to use lukewarm water and a gentle cycle.

Can linen be ironed?

Yes, linen can be ironed using a medium-hot iron while the fabric is damp, or by laying a moist towel on top to achieve a neat press.

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