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Can you wash linen in a washing machine?

Are you wondering if you can wash linen in the washing machine? Here we explain the best methods for washing linen clothes & sheets.


washing linen: child dressed as ghost wearing white linen sheet

Key Steps

  1. Wash on a cool cycle with a gentle detergent. 
  2. Tackle stains carefully - read our article on washing linen and removing stains for guidance.
  3. Hang to dry as soon as the wash is finished.
  4. Iron while still a little damp to help remove creases.

When the weather at home gets warmer, or we’re preparing for a holiday in sunnier climes, linen clothes are usually at the top of the must-have wardrobe list. Why? Because the natural fibres allow our skin to breathe better and they’re cooler against our skin. But how practical is linen really? Won’t it get terribly creased in your washing machine? Amazingly linen is pretty easy to launder – just follow our step-by-step guide below.

Linen clothes are favourable for hot climates, and they’re easy to wash, too – so you don’t have to worry about doing the laundry after a holiday! Simply use a mild detergent like products from Persil and wash at a moderate to cool temperature.

Has your lifestyle during the Covid-19 lockdown affected the type of stains you get on your clothes?

How to Wash Linen in a Washing Machine

Linen is made from flax, a natural fibre that can absorb a lot of water. It is prone to heavy creasing in the wash (or while wearing it, too!), but if you give items a lot of space to move around in the drum, you’ll find this particular situation is greatly improved. The best way to wash linen is to check the care label and then follow these steps:

  1. Wash your linen items separately as a half load or one large item at a time – lights and darks in different batches. Delicates are better hand-washed.
  2. Select a gentle detergent and add the appropriate amount to the machine.
  3. Choose a program with a long soak, a short wash, a rinse, and a short spin.
  4. Make sure the cycle uses a moderate to cool temperature.
  5. When the cycle is finished immediately remove the clothes from the machine to avoid any extra creasing from sitting damp in the drum.
  6. Hang on the line to dry.

Need help washing other fabrics? Try our articles on how to care for clothes made of rayon, how to wash wool, and how to clean delicates like silk.

Frequently Asked Questions About Washing Linen

Can you machine wash linen tablecloths or sheets?

Yes, you can. Linen has been used for years to produce high quality, durable bedding and table coverings that frequently get stained. If your tablecloth is made of antique linen or embroidered, however, it should be treated delicately: hand-wash it or take it to a professional cleaner.

Can you wash a linen-cotton blend?

Yes, you can, but be sure to check the care label first! Linen-cotton blends are less likely to crease and shrink, but are still composed of natural fibres, so you should make sure you select a temperature and cycle adapted to the particular fabric. For more advice on washing cotton, check out our guide on how to stop cotton shrinking in the wash.

Can linen be machine washed at high temperatures?

Yes, it can, but you must be prepared for some shrinkage to take place. These days, it’s not always necessary to wash your whites at a high temperature to get them clean: modern detergents like Persil bio Liquid contain enzymes that work just as well at a lower temperature. Always consult the care label before you do your wash.

Can I use bleach to remove stains from linen?

No, this is not a good idea! Bleach weakens linen fibres and may cause damage. The best approach for treating stains is to make sure the area doesn’t dry out (as this can make a stain more difficult to remove); soak the stain in a detergent and water solution before running a regular wash.

Can I tumble dry linen?

Not unless you want shrinkage and big ugly creases that are difficult to remove! Linen should be line-dried (smooth the creases out while it’s wet) and ironed while still slightly damp. As a breathable natural fabric, it is pretty quick to dry this way.


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Originally published