CARE FOR LINEN FABRIC: A BASIC GUIDE
Linen has been around - we aren't joking - for nearly 8,000 years before the Christian era, so that probably makes it the world's oldest natural fiber. And that automatically excludes the bothersome exercise called dry cleaning, because the ancient Egyptians used linen of such high quality that not even the most advanced modern looms have been able to replicate some of it. And if they did fine without dry cleaning, so will you. However, despite the fact that it launders well, linen does require a certain degree of basic maintenance, which is what we will discuss here.
Whatever cleaning methods you use, first try it on a hidden area of your linen garment or household item. This rule, of course, applies to most fabrics, and linen is no exception. At all events, you need to follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter, because washing instructions may vary according to the stitching used on the fabric, for instance, or the dyes that have been used to color it. Trouble is, the ancient Egyptians probably had the upper hand when it came to caring for linen, because they used natural methods to care for a natural fabric. With all our artificial washing liquids and detergents, we need to be more careful than they were!
When it comes to washing, linen is almost always better off with a hand or machine wash than a dry cleaning. In fact, the more linen is washed, the softer and more absorbent it becomes. However, a few general rules are best kept in mind. You should wash linen garments in a mild detergent diluted in lukewarm or cold, and preferably soft, water. If you are using a washing machine, set it to a mild wash cycle. In all cases, make sure to rinse the fabric thoroughly to remove all soapy residues.
Try and ensure that you remove a stain from a linen item immediately after it has formed. The more you delay, the harder it will be for you to get the stain off.
In some cases, the stain may not come off at all. Some varieties of white linen can withstand oxygen bleaches, though chlorine bleaches are not recommended.
You may machine dry linen, or hang it on the line to dry, but do not wring it too hard before you hang it out to dry. The best thing would be to bring it off the line while it is still damp, because linen tends to acquire a brittle quality if it dries too thoroughly, which is difficult to reverse. However, you should leave linen items in direct sunlight for a while for the bacteria to be killed and the items to acquire the crisp linen smell.
Actually, ironing is not really a priority when it comes to linen items, unless they're really crushed. If so, it would be a good idea to iron while the fabric is still damp. If you can't manage that, use a spray starch and iron with steam at medium-to-hot. While white linen is best ironed on both sides, it is bets to iron dark linen on the wrong side only. For delicate embroidery, use a press cloth as protection.
Never store dirty linen, because it will attract mildew. If mildew has formed on your linen items, soak in a mild solution of hydrogen peroxide and water before washing. If you wrap your linen, avoid using plastic bags and opt for cloth bags instead. Also, avoid cardboard boxes and cedar chests.
At TrimFabric, we store our linen fabrics in a smoke-free, climate-controlled environment so that they are not exposed to any odors, fumes, extreme temperatures, or moisture. While we are aware that you may not be able to replicate these conditions in your home, we would advise you to store your linen articles in pest-resistant boxes and containers. Also, if you have any problems maintaining and storing your linen articles, we would be glad to offer suggestions based on your situation, because at TrimFabric, we have years of experience in handling and stocking the finest linens that money can buy