How to Wash Linen Clothes

Learn how to wash linen and our best linen stain removal tips with our handy guide.

Updated 24 June 2019

Child in a linen sheet with eye holes cut out as a ghost costume

Key steps

  • Use your washing machine according to the instructions on the care label to wash everyday linen garments.
  • If you have embroidered linens or any linen pieces with lace, it is best to hand wash them.
  • Always line dry linen in the sun, avoiding the tumble dryer.

Linen clothes are great in all weathers; cosy enough to wear if it’s cool, whilst remaining light and airy during the hot summer months. It is important to how to wash linen clothes, and here we will share our simple guide to linen stain removal and washing.

Reduce creases by using a good fabric conditioner like Comfort before drying wet clothes on clothes hangers, followed by ironing them while they are still slightly damp.

Can you wash linen fabric in the washing machine?

Linen is made from natural flax fibres, and like any natural fabric, could get damaged in your washing machine. These simple steps for how to wash linen garments in the washing machine will help you avoid shrinking and wrinkles:

  • Wash linen items on their own, separate from your other clothes.Washing linen garments alone will allow them plenty of space to move around in the machine, decreasing the likelihood of creases.
  • Use a cool wash programme.Always check the care label to find out the maximum water temperature recommended by the manufacturer, but 30°C is usually the ideal.
  • Use a good quality detergent and fabric conditioner. Detergents like Persil Bio are great for stain removal, whilst fabric conditioners like Comfort help to reduce creasing and give your clothes a fresh scent. Always test products on a hidden part of clothing before using them on the entire garment.
  • Use a gentle setting.Washing your linen on cycles like those designed for wool include a soak at the beginning followed by a short wash which minimises agitation, which could lead to shrinkage.
  • Line-dry immediately after washing.  If linen sits for any length of time in your washing machine at the end of the wash, it’s more likely to get creased. Avoid using a tumble dryer as tumble-drying could set wrinkles in place and potentially shrink the fabric.

How to hand-wash linen

Although washing linen clothes in your washing machine may be the easiest method, you may want to hand-wash linen pieces with embroidery and lace, like tablecloths. Here’s how to hand-wash linen of a more delicate nature:

  1. Add good quality detergents to a bucket filled with cool water.
  2. Soak your linen garments in the bucket of water for around 20 minutes.
  3. Agitate the clothing gently before rinsing them in cool clean water.
  4. If you notice any remaining stains, repeat the hand wash process.
  5. Hang the clothes outside on the line to dry.

Linen stain removal tactics

Linen is an absorbent material, and as such, stains can end up looking worse than they actually are. Try this simple linen stain removal method before you head to the dry cleaner’s:

  1. Dab a small amount of Persil Bio Liquid on the stain and leave it to work for 15–30 minutes.
  2. Wash the item in the washing machine with similar colours at 30°C with some more Persil Bio Liquid, which is formulated to remove stains even at low temperatures.
  3. Let the item air-dry on a clothes line.
  4. Check for any remaining stains. If there are any, repeat the process.

Can I wash linen antiques?

Linen sheets and tablecloths can often be handed down from generation to generation, due to their hardwearing nature. Whilst it is likely you can wash these linens at home, it is always best to consult a professional who specialises in linen cleaning first.

Now you have a simple guide for how to wash linen, you will always have that staple wardrobe piece ready to wear, free from stains and creases.

Originally published 5 November 2018