Linen is a gorgeous natural fabric. It is super comfortable to wear during warm weather months or year-round in temperate climates. The fibers have properties that wick moisture away from your body, which gives the fabric its characteristically cool, airy feeling.
The downside of wearing linen is in the fibers as well. These breathable flax fibers are quite rigid and once they crease, they remain creased for the duration of wear. To compound the problem, wrinkles become set in due to the body’s constant release of moisture.
Some people say the wrinkles inherent in linen are part of its beauty and casual nature. We tend to agree to a certain extent, but there are times you want to appear neatly pressed and, in that regard, linen clothes can disappoint.
Now you know the good and bad of linen clothes and still want to have a few pieces in your wardrobe, there are some tricks to keep it looking nice and neat without having to take out a second mortgage to pay for your dry cleaning bill...
Linen clothes may look delicate, but many are surprisingly durable. However, you should always check the manufacturer’s care label and take into account any special instructions before cleaning your linen garment. If your linen clothing is a blend of linen and cotton or rayon, the care instructions may be different. The fabric content of trim or lining can also affect the method of cleaning. Unfortunately, if the label says dry clean only, it is probably best to do so. I have had some success laundering "dry clean only" linen, but would only do so if you are not afraid to damage the garment.
As a general rule, linen shirts, shorts, skirts and pants can be machine laundered on the delicate or short cycle with a cold water wash and rinse. You will extend the life of the fabric if you hand-wash your linen clothing in cold water. Steer clear of harsh laundry detergents when washing linen clothes. Buy a mild detergent formulated for delicate fabrics. Always remember to separate your whites and colors—new linen dyes have a tendency to bleed in the wash.
To properly hand-wash linen, place it in a clean sink with cool water and mild detergent. Gently agitate the clothing items, then remove from the soapy water. Drain the soapy water, rinse the sink and refill with cool water. Rinse the garments and repeat until the water is soap-free.
If your linen clothes become stained, try removing the spot with club soda. Some stains can be removed with common hairspray or rubbing alcohol, but it is best to test an inconspicuous spot for color fastness. Never use bleach on linen garments. If you are unsure how to proceed, seek the advice of a professional. It's better to be safe than sorry when removing stains from linen clothes!
After laundering, air-dry your linen garment on a padded hanger or place it flat on a drying rack. Do not dry your linen pieces in the clothes dryer. You may tumble dry on low for five minutes to help loosen the wrinkles. Immediately take your linen clothes from the dryer and hang on a hanger or lay flat to fully dry. Do not wring linen to remove excess water. Carefully roll each item in a towel to remove moisture.
Speaking of drying, consider using at-home dry cleaning products to clean your linen clothing. Since you're putting dry clothes in the dryer on medium heat, you don't need to worry about shrinkage or damage. Look for home dry cleaning products that are safe for use with linen clothes. It may cost more than laundering, but you'll save time ironing!
A good tip for ironing linen clothing involves moisture or steam. Set your iron on the linen setting and iron while the garment is still damp. The heat from the iron will dry the fabric and remove wrinkles more effectively.
If your garment is complete dry, spritz with water while ironing or use a steam iron. To keep linen looking crisp and neat for several wearings, spray the fabric with sizing as you iron. Sizing gives linen body. It will actually hold its shape better and resist wrinkles longer. Sizing is much lighter than spray starch and does not make the fabric stiff.
To prevent linen clothing from wrinkling during the day, try these handy tips:
In between washings or dry cleaning, iron out troublesome wrinkles so your linen remains crisp and neat. Spray lightly with a fabric refresher to eliminate environmental odors.
If you follow this advice, you can enjoy wearing your comfortable linen clothes for many years to come!