What is linen?

Linen is a wonderful natural material that comes from the stalks of the flax plant. Unlike cotton, which tends to retain moisture, linen is absorbent and dries quickly. This characteristic means it maintains coolness and freshness even in hot and humid weather, making it popular for summer clothes. Linen is also popular to use in interior textiles, as well as bedding, napkins, tablecloths and curtains, as it has a natural stiffness to it.

Linen fibre is very strong, but garments and products made from it still need proper care. This is a general guide for how to care for linen garments and interior textiles, helping you make sure they last longer.

piglet in bed oatmeal robe

Washing linen

The care label on most linen items will recommend 30-60°C. We still recommend that you wash linen at 30°C (cold) to avoid exposing the fibre to stress - the heat will dull linen’s natural lustre over time. Nevertheless, some items might need a higher temperature, such as napkins or stained textiles, but 40 °C should be warm enough, especially if you pre-treat stains. Oil stains can be treated with some washing up liquid or a specialist stain remover.

Always turn coloured items inside out before washing to protect the outer surface of the fabric. We recommend reducing the spin cycle slightly to decrease wrinkling and creasing.

Piglet in Bed linen blush pink pillowcase

Drying linen

Once washed, give linen items a shake, and pull lightly around any seams to remove creases. To prevent shrinkage in the drying process, clothes and other products are best dried hanging and air-dried. This also reduces their wrinkles and their general creasing, which will make it easier to iron. Tumble drying is not recommended for linen items as it might make them shrink.  

Kaely Russell linen gingham summer shirt


Linen fibres have poor elasticity which means they wrinkle very easily. Formal linen garments might need ironing quite often, but linen's wrinkles are often seen as a part of the material's charm and characteristics. If ironing, do this while the fabric is still slightly damp or spray it with water 10 minutes before ironing. This will make the ironing much easier. 

Linen can be ironed on a medium to high temperature, but try not to over iron as, over time, it will wear down the fibre. 

Riley Studio linen white ecru top shirt

How sustainable is linen? 

The flax plant can grow with limited use of herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals. Unlike cotton that can only grow in hot climates, flax is often grown close to the UK, with Belgium being popular for the quality of its flax, and Ireland having a large linen production. Compared to cotton, linen production - organic or conventional - also uses very little water; the flax plant can thrive with just rainwater and without irrigation. 

Piglet navy linen table cloths and oatmeal linen napkin

The process of turning the flax plant into a linen textile is also simple and chemical-free.

All of this means linen has a very low environmental impact during its production and manufacturing process compared to other fibres. In addition, in a world where we need to buy less, buying durable products is important.  Linen’s high durability means it doesn’t need to be replaced often, which makes it one of the most sustainable materials.

Want to learn more about Untied and their mending workshops? Take a look at their Instagram here.

6 reasons why Buy Me Once loves linen. Discover the numerous benefits of linen here.

8 features to look for in buy-once clothing. Learn how to spot high quality clothing here.

May 18, 2022 — Jemma Sharman