How To Wash Linen Sheets & Bedding Separates

Linen often seems like a tricky material to wash. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just putting it on whatever wash cycle you prefer. Luckily, though, it’s fairly simple once you understand the tips and tricks for how to wash linen, and why some of those steps are necessary. 

First, let’s start with what linen is. Over time, most materials or fabrics used in the home are called linens. But, linen is a specific material type. Linen is a natural fiber, and the fibers are created from the flax plant, specifically, the cellulose in the stems of the flax plant, which are then made into the fabric, and of course, the bedding.

Let’s get into it. Here’s how to wash linen:

  1. Separate the bedding components.If your linen bedding is a mix and match set of colors, separate these out. If the colors are similar or are both light or both dark, these can be washed together. 
  2. Treat any stains. We have a helpful guide for stain removal.
  3. Choose the proper wash cycle. Our linen bedding is best washed on a cool wash cycle. Why not warm or hot? We’ll get into that in a bit. 
  4. Select your preferred detergent. Anything free of bleach is best.
  5. Decide how you’ll dry the bedding. Air drying or a gentle, low dry cycle are both fine.
  6. Store. If you’re not using the bedding immediately, fold and place in a linen closet or safely back into our matching fabric pouches. If you are, go ahead and make up that comfy bed!

It’s important to note that bedding should be washed fairly frequently. Many people go a bit too long between washes, which is not a good idea. Bedding collects sweat, dead skin cells, hair, all of which are unpleasant to sleep in night after night after night without cleaning. Sheets and duvet covers should be washed every week or two. If you do use a top sheet, you may be able to stretch the time between washes for the duvet cover, since your top/flat sheet will act as a buffer.  Pillowcases should be washed every few days, or, if you have several, they can be switched out or rotated and then washed every week. 

While dry cleaning is absolutely an option for linen bedding, and some customers tend to prefer that, you can put linen in the washing machine if you take care to note some of the important instructions to extend the life of your linen sheets and bedding. And with that, it’s time to deep dive into each step of our linen washing instructions, if you’re planning to machine wash.

Separate the bedding components.

As we’ve mentioned, if they’re the same color or similar colors, of course they can be washed together. But if they are not, separate them into different laundry batches. 

Treat any stains. 

Any stains should be treated before being removed as well. Some light spot treating for minor stains can be done by pre-soaking the spot in some detergent. If you have more intense stains from makeup or wine or snacking in bed (hey, we’ve all done it at some point!), we have a helpful guide for you here. 

Choose the proper wash cycle.

When it comes to how to wash linen sheets or other bedding components, the wash cycle question is the one we receive most frequently.

Linen bedding should be washed on a cool water cycle. Why not a hotter cycle? Doesn’t that kill bacteria better? In some cases. Warm or hot water are best when things need heavy washing. But, if you’re washing bedding frequently enough, cold or cool water should be just fine in properly cleaning your linen bedding. It’s also important to note that some stains react better with cooler water (a helpful tip for people who sweat in their sleep) and some fibers and materials stretch out unfavorably or shrink when washed in warm or hot water. We want to avoid that so your bedding lasts as long as possible. 

Other benefits of a cool wash cycle include a reduction in energy use, and the preservation of colors. 

Select your preferred detergent. 

This is pretty self explanatory. If there is a detergent you love the scent of, or that is eco friendly, we want you to choose that to help create a lovely experience. We do not suggest using bleach, however. Bleach alternatives are fine, though.

Choose how you’ll dry your bedding. 

Can linen sheets go in the dryer? Yes, they can! Some people prefer air drying, which is a great choice if you have the space and weather to do so. But, this bedding can be dried on a low, gentle tumble dry cycle. 

If you notice wrinkles, be assured that they will go away with use. But, of course, you are welcome to gently iron or steam your bedding for a crisp look, whether you’ve planned to make the bed or are folding the bedding for storage. Which brings us to the next step….

Store your bedding.

If this set isn’t going onto the bed, fold each element, group them together and store in a cool, dry spot like a linen closet or drawer. You can also store your sheet sets or bedding elements in our matching fabric pouches!

Some other helpful-to-know tips:

  • Did you know that linen gets softer with every wash? If you’ve followed our steps on how to wash bed linen, you’ll be left with lasting, durable bedding. But, with increased use and washing, linen grows in softness, which is a lovely benefit (and a huge incentive to make sure you’re doing frequent washing). 
  • Fabric softener isn’t necessary. You can absolutely use it if it’s your preference, but it’s actually not a necessary step for most laundry loads, including for linen bedding. While it does reduce static and add a nice smell, it just isn’t entirely necessary, but a matter of personal preference. You can use a dryer sheet or dryer balls to help achieve this as well. 
  • As we’ve mentioned, it is safe to gently iron or steam linen. This all depends on your preference, as well, but it does give a crisp, lovely look on the bed. 

Ultimately, when it comes to how to wash linen, the best way to do so is the way you prefer. If that’s dry cleaning, that is great! But if you prefer to machine wash and dry, we hope you’ll keep these steps and tips in mind to extend the life of your bedding, prevent it from shrinking, and keep it soft and comfortable. 

We hope these tips are helpful for those of you who already use our French Linen bedding, or for those of you who are wanting to try it! This is a lovely, luxurious material, and with a little bit of care, it will last you years and years. Shop or discover our full French Linen Bedding Collection here.

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