Dating back to 4000 BC, linen is one of the oldest and most widely used fabrics known to mankind. The term “linens” is generally used to cover a wide variety of items you might find in your linen closet that were traditionally made from linen, such as woven or knitted bed, bath, table, and kitchen accessories. If you own any linens, you probably already know that the cleaning and care methods required for linen aren’t as simple and straightforward as cotton and other materials. This is a fabric that is well worth your tender loving care. Here are a few tips to keep your linens clean and fresh.

Spot Cleaning

To combat stains, spot cleaning is the most effective way to make your tablecloths, bed sheets, and other linens last as long as possible. Just follow these five easy steps:

  1. First of all, check the tag. If it advises you to take the item to a dry cleaner, follow that advice, especially when dealing with clothing. However, if machine or hand washing is an option, you can try to face this challenge yourself as soon as you notice the stain.
  2. With the item laid out flat, rub baking soda into the area of the stain to dissolve it.
  3. Use a bit of lemon juice to bleach out the unappealing colour of the stain without ruining the original colour of the material. Although you can use a store-bought safe stain remover instead if you’d prefer, natural products will do the trick and you’ll likely have them around the house already.
  4. After allowing the baking soda to soak for a while, wash the item normally and hang it to dry. It’s very important not to use the dryer until the stain has been removed completely because the heat of the dryer will result in the stain setting permanently.
  5. Take the item to a professional dry cleaner if the stain refuses to come out. Hey, at least you tried.

Regular Washing

Did you know that linen is a living fabric that actually becomes softer and more luxurious with each wash? So you’re actually doing your linens (and yourself) a big favour when you clean them. As long as the label doesn’t suggest taking your item to the dry cleaner, you can simply take care of the everyday washing of your linens at home by yourself. Here’s how:

    • Before you begin, make sure to completely unfold and loosely shake up your linens. Because linen can absorb a great deal of water, remember to have sufficient water in your washing machine and don’t overload it. Also, you can wash duvet covers and pillow shams inside out.
    • Washing your matching linens together will cause them to wear at the same rate and ensure they will match forever. Keep in mind that you should always separate white laundry from colours and natural fabrics from synthetics.
    • Mild, biodegradable, and natural detergents are recommended because linen is a natural product. Whatever you do, avoid all laundry detergents that contain bleach, especially when washing coloured linen, or else the fibers in the fabric will wear down over time.
    • Use only half of the suggested amount of detergent unless your linens are extremely soiled. Also refrain from using fabric softeners, which will leave your items lined with an artificial coat.
    • Choose the gentlest wash and spin cycle settings available and use cool or warm water, not cold or hot. If you’re washing your linens in warm water, finishing the load with a full, cool rinse will ensure that you get rid of all soap, detergent, and residual dirt.
    • When rinsing coloured linens, add a splash of vinegar to help prevent colours from fading.
    • You should use a low setting in the dryer as well, and take your items out before they are completely dry to avoid stiffness. Lay your items out flat and never wring them out or bunch them up, or you could end up with permanent wrinkles and stretches.

Ironing

Since linen wrinkles easily, ironing is a necessary evil. The process can be made easier, however, by remembering these tips:

    • Because it’s easier to iron your linens when they’re less wrinkled and still a bit damp, pull your items out of the dryer shortly before they’re finished and iron them right away.
    • Iron your linen napkins, tablecloths, and pillowcases in half the time by folding them in half first.

If you don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to do the sheets, you can still treat yourself to the delightful sensation of freshly ironed linen by ironing just the pillowcases. You’ll be glad you did.