Does Linen Shrink? ( Answer, Guide, And Tips)

does linen shrink

Following its initial wash, linen shrinks. The unfortunate possibility of linen shrinking with improper care exists, just like with many other natural materials. Nobody wants to accidentally cause their favorite linen sheet set or linen shirt to shrink. We’ll offer some suggestions on how to save clothes from linen shrinking in determining the best methods for caring for your favorite linen clothing and bedding.

Does Linen Shrink?

Yes, linen shrinks after its initial wash. For pure linen, the typical shrinkage is about 4%. Many businesses sell pre-washed linen fabric to stop changes in the size and shape of clothing and textiles. This initial wash ensured that the fabric would shrink very little when washed again.

How is Linen Made?

It’s critical to comprehend how linen is made in order to comprehend why linen shrinks.

Flax plants are grown in cooler climates all over the world and their stems are a source of the fibers used to make linen. Even though flax is grown throughout the world, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands are famous for their production, quality, and history.

After a flax plant is harvested, the fibers are separated through a “retting” and “scutching” process. Retting happens when flax is submerged in water before being removed to dry. By breaking up the woody portion of the stalk, scutching further loosens the flax fibers.

Once the fibers are removed, they are “heckled,” which separates the short fibers using a combing technique. The lengthy flax fibers are left behind. Before being woven into a textile item, these fibers are spun into yarn.

Because of their crystalline structure, flax fibers are very durable. This gives linen fabric one of its most desired properties its strength. Compared to other textiles, like synthetics, linen is also incredibly sustainable.

Why Does Linen Shrink?

Why does linen shrink if it is a fabric known for its strength and durability?

According to the National Cleaners Association, linen is one of a handful of textiles that experiences “relaxation shrinkage.” Linen shrink happens as a result of fibers stretching during production.

The fibers of linen fabric relax when it is wet. The fabric appears to have shrunk as a result of the fibers expanding back to their original size.

Different linen fabrics shrink at different rates. Although in rare circumstances, the linen shrink to 10%, most industry experts agree that shrinkage of up to 3 to 4% is possible. For instance, consumers are less likely to observe any significant shrinkage after washing a garment if linens are pre-washed before being turned into one.

The natural fibers, however, can also shrink when heated. The fabric that was washed in hot water will inevitably shrink more than the fabric that was washed in cold water.

How to Wash Linen to Avoid Linen Shrink?

The majority of linen can be washed in a washing machine with mild detergent and warm water to avoid linen shrink, but it’s crucial to read the care instructions for each individual item.

Keep in mind that lower-quality linen fabrics might not wash as well, and pure linen will shrink if it hasn’t been pre-washed. This is especially important to think about if you’re purchasing items like bed linen or tablecloths that require frequent washing at high temperatures. use the gentle cycle on your washing machine if you’re not sure.

If in doubt or you’re washing vintage linen fabrics, hand washing them in cold water will prevent linen from shrinking and preserve the original size of the clothing. Rinse thoroughly in cool water after using a mild detergent.

Stick to lukewarm water instead of hot or cold, as both are more likely to cause shrinkage. Fabric softener is not necessary because linen softens and becomes more supple after each wash.

How to Prevent Linens from Shrinking in Wash?

Because applying heat can cause natural fibers to shrink, it is recommended to wash all linens in cold water to avoid linen shrinkage. Here are a few more pointers to keep linens’ fibers strong and stop them from shrinking.

In general, when cleaning fine linens by washing machine:

  • Linen fabrics should be kept apart from other types of fabrics, as should light and dark fabrics.
  • Use the gentle cycle.
  • Avoid overworking your machine.
  • Use mild detergent.
  • Do not use bleach.

When handwashing linen:

  • In a sink, combine water and roughly one teaspoon of gentle detergent.
  • Give the linens about 10 minutes to soak.
  • Then, with your hands, carefully move the fabric all around the container.
  • IMPORTANT: Avoid twisting or scrubbing the fabric as doing so could harm the fibers.
  • Drain the sink’s water and then fill it up. Repeat this action until all of the detergents have been eliminated.

Linens can also be dry cleaned, especially since this will save time when wrinkles are present and the fabric must be pressed.

How to Prevent Linens from Shrinking in the Dryer?

Linen shrink can also result from over-drying. Linen should never be tumble dried on high heat, which not only can cause the fibers to shrink, but break altogether.

If linen has already been washed, dry it on low heat instead. However, take them out while they’re still a little damp. You can use a low to medium heat setting on your iron and iron the linen while it is still damp if you prefer wrinkle-free sheets.

The manufacturer’s tag should also be examined to see if a cleaning code or cleaning instructions are attached. The likelihood that the linen fabric will shrink can be decreased by adhering to the tag.

What to Do If Your Linen Shrinks?

Don’t get alarmed if a piece of linen shrinks after washing. There are things you can do:

  • Soak the fabric in lukewarm water and mild detergent for around 10 minutes
  • Remove from the water and gently press out any excess water
  • Hang to dry for a few minutes, to allow any extra water to release
  • While the linen fabric is still damp, lay flat on a towel on an ironing board
  • The fibers should be gently stretched back to their original size by pressing the fabric or item outwards at a low iron temperature. The fabric will be harmed if you vigorously rub or press. Just press down with a light touch.

Of course, one of the simplest ways to prevent linen shrink is to purposefully reduce the piece of linen before designing a garment or hemming curtains, as was previously mentioned. This will decrease the likelihood that your finished product will shrink, especially if the aforementioned care instructions are followed.