Like most of my blog posts, I originally started writing this for an Instagram post but got far too carried away!
Washing and caring for linen is something I was particularly nervous of - and most of my customers have said the same. I think there's a general feeling that linen is delicate and you need to be extra careful of it.
This couldn't be further from the truth - the more I work with linen the more I realise just how hardy it is. It's my favourite fabric to work with by far - it's an old faithful now, one that I trust to stand the test of time.
So, I thought it would be helpful to put together a guide on how to care for your linens. Let me know in the comments if you think this is useful 🧡
What is linen?
First I thought you might like a bit of info about linen.
Linen is made from the flax plant which, in my opinion, is one of the prettiest plants.
It has pale blue/lilac flowers, but it's the seed that we are really interested in.
The plants are cut or pulled from the ground and the seeds are separated from the plant, in a process called winnowing.
The plant stock is removed from the fibre by 'retting' and the resulting fibres are separated, the longest fibres are collected and then spun into yarn. The yarn is then woven into fabric.
This process has been happening for a very long time. The earliest piece of clothing, found in Egypt, were dated to around 6000 years ago and made from linen.
How do I wash my linen clothing?
Linen is a hardworking fabric and it is pretty tough. However, because it's a natural fibre, dyes can fade over time.
To combat this I very rarely wash my linen clothing - but it's not as gross as it sounds. Linen has natural antibacteriostatic properties (basically bacteria doesn't stick to the fibres, so it's less smelly)
If there's a mark or stain but the jumpsuit is generally okay, I recommend spot washing with a damp cloth with a tiny bit of gentle/delicate detergent soaked in. Make sure you get all of the detergent out, otherwise you'll get a mark when it dries!
If your jumpsuit looks like it needs a good clean all over, you are perfectly fine to machine wash your linen jumpsuit. I recommend that you wash on a cold or cool cycle - absolutely nothing about 30 degrees please!
The most amazing thing about linen is that it actually becomes softer & more absorbent after multiple washes, unlike cotton which can become threadbare. This makes it the perfect sustainable fabric and your cost per wear only gets better with time!
I typically wash my linen jumpsuits on a handwash setting, because my machine has one - however, a cold cycle with a medium spin speed should be fine if you don't have a handwash cycle but are able to change your settings.
If you'd like to test the washing before you buy, you can order a free fabric swatch.
You can, of course, dry clean your jumpsuit but please try to find an eco-friendly one! Most dry cleaners use hydrogen peroxide to clean clothes, which isn't particularly environmentally friendly.
I wrote another blog post about dry cleaning vs washing, if you're interested!
It's also worth noting that I only use pre-laundered linens. This means they are both softer, more comfortably and are pre-shrunk (so won't shrink when you wash it at home.) Your jumpsuit will tighten slightly after washing but this will relax as you wear it.
How do I dry my linens?
I would advise that you do not tumble dry your jumpsuit - although I know that most other linen pieces can be tumble dried.
I recommend this mostly because of the construction. There are some pretty fragile bits in your jumpsuit (particularly the zips, buttons and where the straps are attached to the body at your shoulders) that get put under stress by general wear. Tumble dryers are amazing pieces of equipment, particularly if you live in a damp part of the world like the U.K., but aren't great for delicate pieces of clothing.
So, how can you dry them?
I recommend that you take your jumpsuit out of the washing machine and give it a good shake to get rid of some of the bigger creases.
Then, hang your jumpsuit on a hanger and let it dry naturally. This will also stop those horrible white tide marks appearing if, like me, you live in an area with particularly hard water.
Try to dry it away from direct sunlight - this will protect the dyes from bleaching in the sun.
You can iron it (see below) when it is almost dry if you're attentive enough to catch it at this point*! This will make it even easier to iron as the remaining water in the fibre will turn to steam with the heat of the iron.
*absolutely no judgement if you don't catch it at this point - I have never been able to!
How do I keep creases at bay?
Creases and linen...
I don't want to put you off but if you're the sort of person who can't stand creases, linen will not be your friend. I'd rather be up front about that!
Linen, as a natural fibre, moulds to its environment. This makes it a super comfortable and durable fabric and its charm lies in it's relaxed feel. However it does mean that, for example, you'll get creases at the tops of the trousers, where your legs meet your body.
A few things to remember, though, for the easiest way to keep these at bay:
The creases will drop out. So if you're stood up, you're unlikely to get strong creases. Likewise, if you've been sat down and then stand up, these creases will drop over time.
When you iron your jumpsuit, make sure you use plenty of steam - I use the highest steam setting on my iron, although this does mean I have to keep topping up with water regularly.
While your iron may have a 'linen' setting (which is most likely the maximum setting) keep an eye on it and test on a hidden part of the jumpsuit first (like between the legs). If the linen is turning shiny, you need to reduce the heat on the iron. Your iron is too hot - this is why we like a really high steam output but the iron can be a little cooler.
You may notice that when you iron, your linen changes colour slightly - don't worry, this will fade once it cools down. I find this one of the most amazing things about linen and love watching it - it never gets old!
It could also be worth buying a steamer (although of course, not just for one jumpsuit!) - they make light work of all types of clothes and I honestly find it both quicker and easier to steam clothing that ironing. You don't need to get out an ironing board and iron, for example, so are brilliant if you don't have a lot of space. The handheld ones are great for one or two bits or if you travel regularly, but if you are looking to replace your iron with a steamer I highly recommend an upright steamer. I think I paid around £40 for mine, which is considerably less than I paid for my iron!
How do I store linen?
As I mentioned, linen is a malleable fabric which adapts to its environment. Because of this, I prefer to store my linens hung up, rather than folded. Mostly because I detest ironing and will do anything to make my life easier!
It's naturally insect-repellant so you won't need to worry about moths quite so much. However, after years of moving from rented apartment to rented apartment, I'm eternally paranoid. Hanging helps me keep a closer eye on my more valuable pieces in my wardrobe.
If you're packing away your linens for the winter (although I wear mine all year round) I recommend not storing it in plastic, as it's not breathable. Linen likes to breathe. Keep it in a cool, dry place that you can keep an eye on - linen doesn't like to be damp (because it's a naturally derived fibre)
When you come to unpack it, make sure you air it out properly. It can smell a little musty but that will fade with a little fresh air!
I hope this has been helpful! If you have any questions, please feel free to pop them in the comments and I'll get back to you asap.