Many people prefer to launder linen, especially table linens, handkerchiefs and bed linen, because the more linen is washed, the softer and more luminous it becomes. Its luminous quality is caused by nodes on the flax fibers, which reflect light. These same people often choose to wash linen articles because they know linen, as a natural fiber, launders beautifully.
Shirts and other garments worn close to the body are easily washed. Freshly washed linen has a naturally clean fragrance and gives one the sense of well-being. In the case of hand or machine washing use a sufficient amount of water since linen is very absorbent.
A variety of drying methods is recommended for linen: line drying, machine drying or rolling in terry towels. Whatever method you use, remember to remove the linen from the line, the dryer or the towels while it is still damp. If linen dries thoroughly, it becomes brittle and takes several hours to recover its natural moisture and full flexibility. (The natural moisture content of linen is between 6-8%. Linen dried beyond this point will re-absorb moisture from the air.)
Use pure soap or gentle detergent when laundering linens.
Soap works best in soft water. (In hard water it forms curds that makes fabrics dingy and stiff).
Launder any stains when fresh. If allowed to set, stains may be impossible to remove at a later date.
Use oxygen-type bleaches for white linen, instead of chlorine bleaches which can cause yellowing.
Select a water temperature between warm to hot, depending on the care instructions.
Place delicate or fringed linens in a pillowcase before putting them into a washing machine.
Whether hand or machine washing, be sure to rinse the linen item completely in lots of water to remove all soap, detergent and residual soil. This will help to avoid formation of “age spots” which are caused by oxidation of cellulose (linen’s primary component).
Once rinsing and spinning cycles on a washing machine are complete, either line dry the linen items, lay them flat or hang garments — all until slightly damp. Avoid wringing out linen before drying.
To keep white linens white, try drying them in the sun.