How to Wash Linen (Shirts, Sheets, Bedding, Fabric)

How to Wash Linen (Shirts, Sheets, Bedding, Fabric)

Let's be honest, linen: you're beautiful, breezy, and oh-so-comfortable.

But when it comes to laundry day, you can feel like a delicate mystery.

However, Fashion Aftermath crafted this textile care, washing guide series for you.

Read further to learn the key to unlocking the secrets of washing linen, from shirts to sheets, without the stress.


Linen: Mastering the Gentle Wash!

Forget harsh detergents and scorching dryers.

We'll delve into the world of gentle cycles, cool water, and air-drying magic.

You'll learn how to keep your linen looking fresh, soft, and wrinkle-free (well, mostly!) wash after wash.

Here's what we'll cover

  • What is Linen
  • Sorting it out: Separating colors, delicate, and the heavy hitters.
  • Water wisdom: Choosing the right temperature for optimal results.
  • Detergent decoded: Gentle formulas and clever alternatives.
  • Machine magic: Cycles, settings, and tricks for a worry-free wash.
  • Air-drying artistry: Mastering the art of line-drying or tumble-drying on low.
  • Bonus tips: Stain removal hacks and tricks for extra linen love.

So, grab your basket of linen beauties and get ready to conquer laundry day with confidence!

Let's start this journey together and keep your linen looking its best, naturally.


Linen bed sheets furniture hotel bedroom


What is Linen?

Linen, also known as flax, boasts a long and fascinating history. Its scientific name, Linum usitatissimum, means "most useful flax," aptly describing its importance and versatility. Dating back millennia, linen has been prized for its strength and durability. It's used to make everything from clothing and bedding to towels and tablecloths (Akin, 2013).

So next time you touch a piece of linen, remember its rich history and the many purposes it serves!

Material: Linen, is made from flax fibers, it's incredibly strong and can last for generations.

This natural fabric is not only useful, but also a natural, plant-based fiber (Akin, 2013).

More information are accessible via Alliance for European Flax-Linen & Hemp.

Origin: Flax plant, which may also appears in other fabrics such as damasks or lace. There is firstly, flax fiber, needed for textile productio. Secondly, there is flax seed which is used for human food consumptions (CFDA, 2024).

Known for: Breathability, Comfort, Durability, Wrinkle-prone

Used for

  • Clothing (shirts, pants, dresses)
  • Bedding (sheets, duvet covers)
  • Towels
  • Tablecloths
  • And more 


white folded linen sheets


Cons of Washing Linen 

Gentle washing helps, but fancy wrinkle-reducing settings on your new washer don't work wonders on linen clothes!

In other words, new washers' fancy wrinkle stuff doesn't help much (Gocek et al., 2013).

Soft cycles are good, but high-tech wrinkle settings don't work well for linen.

Linen wrinkles easily, even with gentle washing.

Forget fancy settings!

Even gentle washes won't stop linen from wrinkling.

These fabrics tend to develop creases easily, especially after wear and washing (Gocek et al., 2013).


large blue linen sheets drying outside washing instructions textile care


Washing Instructions


Want to know the professional washing requirements at a level suitable for hospitals or similar healthcare facilities?

Our source is the UK-based Department of Health that published a document published online, titled 'Health Technical Memorandum 01-04: Decontamination of linen for health and social care(Department of Health UK, 2016).

Keeping Things Clean: A Guide to Laundry Processes for Service Users

Maintaining hygiene is crucial in most settings, and that includes the proper cleaning of linens and clothing.


A Gentle Clean for Everyday Needs

The standard process is the go-to method for most service users, as it effectively removes common dirt and bacteria.

Imagine it like a well-oiled machine – think detergents working like tiny scrubbers, physically dislodging microorganisms from fabrics during the wash cycle.

This process utilizes washing machines with top-notch washing performance, ensuring thorough cleaning.

To comply with environmental regulations, the standard process adheres to specific guidelines.

It involves washing items at the highest suitable temperature indicated on the care label, using a machine with an excellent EU Ecolabel Wash Performance Rating.

This ensures both effective cleaning and environmental responsibility.

There is Also an Enhanced Process: Stepping Up Hygiene for Special Cases

Sometimes, situations arise where the standard process might not be enough.

This is where the enhanced process comes in.

Think of it as an extra layer of protection, activated when triggers like unexplained infections or rashes are identified.

These triggers indicate the potential presence of infectious agents, necessitating a more robust cleaning approach.

The enhanced process utilises the same type of washing machine as the standard process, but amps up the heat.

Items are washed at a minimum temperature of 60°C, or the highest suitable temperature for heat-sensitive items.

Additionally, to meet specific hygiene requirements, the enhanced process incorporates one of two options:

  • Thermal disinfection: This involves a cycle that reaches and maintains a high temperature for a specific duration, like 71°C for 3 minutes or 65°C for 10 minutes. This effectively eliminates most bacteria and viruses (HSE GOV UK, 2024).
  • Chemical disinfection: This method utilizes specific disinfectants approved for laundry use, ensuring thorough decontamination of items.


Additional Tips for Optimal Laundry Care

  • Time is of the essence: Avoid storing dirty laundry for extended periods. Process it as soon as possible to prevent the growth of bacteria (University of Arizona, 2020).
  • Respect the barriers: Leave the dirty laundry bags sealed and transfer them directly to the washing machine for decontamination.
  • Don't overload: Overcrowding the machine hinders effective cleaning. Allow sufficient space for items to tumble freely.
  • Give heavily soiled items extra attention: Select a pre-wash cycle for items with significant dirt or grime.
  • Heat-sensitive items need special care: Wash them at the highest permissible temperature for their fabric type.
  • Drying matters: When possible, dry items thoroughly to prevent moisture buildup and potential mold growth.
  • Store it right: Keep clean laundry in a designated clean area, preferably off the floor, to maintain hygiene.


Finally, you can follow these Textile Care guidelines as an individual to extend your clothing's lifetime.

By understanding best practice and the purpose of each laundry process, you can easily teach others about it, too.

However, even service providers can benefit from the government-published resources, or memorandums.

This is to ensure clean and safe linens and clothing for their users, fostering a healthy and hygienic environment for all.

Back to blog

Browse Handpicked Vintage Products

1 of 4