Skip to Content


How To Wash Linen


Blue and pink linen sheets draped onto a clothesline in a garden.

Sign-up now to take advantage of member exclusives!

As a member of Ask Team Clean, you get access to exclusive offers and the best cleaning tips.

There’s a reason people have been making and wearing linen since before recorded history: It’s soft, it’s comfortable, it’s breathable, and it’s durable.

Washing linen fabric isn’t difficult, but there are still a few things to know. So, let’s talk about how to wash linen.

Washing Linen Clothes

Linen has qualities that make it a great choice for wear—its softness, how quickly it dries—or made it a favorite in ancient times—how quickly it absorbs color, which made it easy to dye. But those qualities mean that it’s not always the best fit for a modern washing machine.

Hand Washing Linen Clothes

Hand washing is the ideal choice, if you have the time and space. Use a clean sink or basin, lukewarm water, and a teaspoon of mild detergent. Let the garments soak for about ten minutes, swishing gently to remove dirt. There should be no need to scrub. Once you drain the soapy water, rinse each item under lukewarm water until no more suds appear.

To dry, place each item on a towel laid on a flat surface, then pat it dry with another towel. Never wring out a linen item. Once you have most of the water off, hang dry the clothes outside or in a well-ventilated indoor space.

Machine Washing Linen Clothes

For those of us without the time or space to do things by hand, washing linen in the washing machine is still doable. Separate white linen items from dark ones, and don’t wash linen with items made of dense heavy fabrics, like jeans or towels. Use lukewarm water, since both too cold and too hot temperatures may shrink linen. Use a delicate setting, and a mild detergent. Don’t use fabric softeners or bleach on linen items.

If possible, avoid the dryer. Linen dries fast and wrinkles easily. It can easily become overheated in the time a modern dryer is set to take to dry a load of clothing, which weakens the fabric. If possible, air-dry linen items by hanging them outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. If that’s not an option, then separate out the linen items and tumble dry them on a low heat setting for ten to fifteen minutes. Use a dryer ball to help minimize wrinkles. Then take them out and lay them on a flat surface to finish drying.

How to Wash Linen Sheets

The same principles apply to washing linen bedding. Whether you hand wash or machine wash, washing linen in hot water is not advised. Use gentle soap, lukewarm water, and the delicate setting if they’re going into the machine.

The difficulty comes when it’s time to dry them. Sheets are, to point out the obvious, somewhat larger than most clothing items. If you have a clothesline, that’s perfect. But it can be difficult to find a place to lay them flat or hang them indoors.

One trick that might work for you is to use the shower curtain rod. Push the curtain to one side and hang the sheet over the top. Luckily, linen dries very quickly, so you shouldn’t need to leave it there very long.

Another thing to try is ironing. While the sheets are still damp, lay them on the ironing board and iron them on low heat, most irons should have a ‘Linen’ setting. This will gently dry them, as well as give them a beautifully smooth finish. Then you can get to the annoying task of folding the sheets.

With that, you know as much as we do about how to wash linen. For more advice on how to tackle other delicate fabrics like wool or silk look check out our articles and be sure to join the Ask Team Clean community for more tips and special offers!

Articles and services you might also like:

  • 3 smiling friends wearing wool sweaters
    How to wash woollen clothes
  • Lady buttoning up a beige silk blouse
    How to wash silk
  • Sponge in sink basin surrounded by foam and bubbles
    How to clean a sink