Wandering Wednesday~Caring for Linen

May 25, 2016
I guess I did not realize how many linen napkins and tablecloths I had until I began to 

unpack them, wash them and iron them.

Hmmm, seems as though they have multiplied while I was asleep.

Are there such things as linen gremlins??

linen, ironing, washing, fabric

So as the ironing pile grew and grew, so did my curiosity about the nature of linen.

You see, I grew up during the transition period from all natural fibers like cotton, linen and 

wool to the synthetic generation of memory fabrics that required little to no ironing,

also known as permanent press.

As a youngster my Mother would iron weekly, and I remember the clean, clean smell of 

fresh washed fabric pressed against the iron, while the little blue radio on the kitchen 

counter belted out Frank Sinatra.

fabric, drying, washing, linen

I was never much of an ironing gal, even in college.

Then came marriage, home making, having babies and raising them, along with PTA, girl 

scouts Sunday School...

Back then it seemed like dragging out the old ironing board and iron took so much time, 

so often times I tossed the clothes back in the dryer just to get a few wrinkles out.

(shhhh...I am speaking in a whisper)

(Although I was big on bleach and did keep everything super white.)

Flax, natural, fiber, linen, wover

A little History on Linen

Linen is woven from flax, a plant which grows 12 to 40 inches in height.

Flax is referred to in the Bible and the Pharaohs had their clothes made from linen.

Linen might just be the oldest natural fiber.

Just click on Linen History for more information.

Caring For Linen


When washing your linen it is better to wash by hand or machine wash and actually 

each and every time that you wash linen, it becomes more absorbent and even softer.

Use the gentle washing cycle with mild soaps in a lukewarm to cold water.

(Tip~pre-test your fabric first)

I had some very badly stained linen napkins that were my Grandmother's, I had washed 

them numerous times and still the stains would not come out.

Since I could not use them anyway, I felt that I might as well bleach them.

I soaked them in the sink in a bleach solution of 3 tablespoons bleach to one gallon of water.

I completely submerged and soaked them about 5-10 minutes.

Then finished them up by machine washing them in warm water using detergent and 1/2 

cup bleach.

They came out looking wonderful! 


Linen can be put in the dryer on the cool cycle and it is best to remove when it is still slightly 


If you have a clothes line you can hang outside or even lie flat to dry.


It is much easier to iron linen while it is still damp, using a medium-hot iron.
If the linen is dry, use a steam-iron.

White linen can be ironed on both sides.

Colored linen is best ironed on the wrong side only.


Store linens in a cool dry place and avoid cedar chests, plastic bags and boxes.

wash, iron, dry, stains, bleach, soaking, water

Thank you for joining me today, wondering if you have any household tips to share?


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  1. I grew up with linens as well and still have a few that were passed on to me from my grandma and mom. I know my mom still has so many and uses them during the holidays. The scent of a newly ironed linen is a smell you never forget, I agree just easier to toss it back in the dryer. Embroidered linens are my favorite. If they still make biz that might help get those stains out. It's take weeks of soaking. Enjoyed!

    Carole @ Garden Up Green

  2. I love the feel of linen clothes. They breathe with you like cotton. Like most I save my linen pieces to iron when I have lots of energy but I love to wear them.
    I wish I had more linen napkins and tablecloths.Thanks for the tip on not storing in plastic.
    Lately, I have been using tablecloths more. A tablecloth and real napkins rather than paper napkins adds an atmosphere of respect and makes those at your table feel special.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your tips. I, like you have a ton of linens that will be unpacked in July, so your timing was perfect. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. I have a stifling amount of linens these days. I need to purge. I used oxyclean on some older linens from my mom's things that had heavy yellow stains. It worked really well too. I've got my napkins in clear plastic boxes- I haven't seen any problems but perhaps I'll have to relocate them.

  5. I became a convert to linen while living in Europe. They just don't use paper products. It's better for the environment. When I began collecting antique and vintage products I turned to the experts to learn about their care. For tough stains I make and apply a paste of non chlorine bleach and let it sit. Also sometimes merely soaking the fabric in cool water (sometimes up to a day) draws stains out. Followed by line drying. I have a weekly pile of things to iron but I do it while watching my Sunday night shows on PBS so it doesn't feel like a chore. Spritzing with handmade lavender water is a delight to help with the wrinkles.

  6. We inherited some linen and I've always been a bit afraid of using it because I wasn't sure how fragile it was plus I wasn't sure how to care for it. Thanks to your post, a lot of my questions have been answered.

    Thanks for all the information!
    Marilyn (in Dallas)

  7. My mother ironed everything when I was a child, even her bras! I used to iron not only my pillowcases but the first couple of feet of the flat sheet that would be turned back to show. Now I don't even iron pillowcases. And, a few months ago I noticed that tablescaping bloggers weren't ironing their table linens and I loved the rough look of it so much that now I hang them up out of the dryer or off the line. And I have 4 old real linen shirts that I treasure, more so with each passing year as they get softer and softer.

    I think your mother taught you well, Jemma!

  8. Thanks for the tips sweet friend. I have a nice little stash of napkins going now and it seems every single time I pull them out to use I have to iron them. Someone told me once that I should iron them as soon as they are dry and put in zip lock bags to keep them together and neatly stacked. I done that for a while and then got lazy and would just toss in the linen closet. I may need to take a day to clean out the linen closet now! LOL! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  9. Great tips for linen care. I do not have any handed down to me. Now, I seem to buy napkins that retain their form and are usually wrinkle free.
    Have a fabulous day sweet friend. xo

  10. We used to have quite a lot of linen ... and I've always liked it, but sometimes I go for a quicker and easier option. Is that bad I wonder?

    A very interesting read, thank you.

    All the best Jan

  11. I just located a stack of antique linen napkins from hubby's grandmother and some have yellowed. I need to work on them. Timely post for me. Thanks.

  12. I have several linen pieces...and linen clothing is the best!! I have done the same thing, over-dried something, so I spray it with water, toss it back into the dryer, watching it closely this time!
    Have a nice Memorial weekend, Jemma.

  13. Jemma, I don't really have a use for linen napkins or table cloths. With my house being smaller, I have one dining room table. It's a big table, however, it's such a pretty piece of furniture that I don't cover it. How nice that you have collected so many linens through the years. These pictures are simply lovely. Love the purple bow you tied to the flowers. That looks like lavender?

    Have a wonderful rest of the week, Jemma.


  14. I see we are cut from the same cloth (pun intended). Ironing is not something I relish doing, nor is it something I'm good at. I have used the 'throw in the dryer with damp cloths' trick more times than I care to admit, but heck, it works!

    (I'm home and feeling better. Thank you!)


  15. I have a linen holiday tablecloth and I WILL admit that rather than iron it I re-wash and throw in the dryer!! :) A linen tunic that I do iron which is silly since 10 minutes after I put it on it is wrinkled. This was such a PRETTY post, though! :)

  16. I have a linen holiday tablecloth and I WILL admit that rather than iron it I re-wash and throw in the dryer!! :) A linen tunic that I do iron which is silly since 10 minutes after I put it on it is wrinkled. This was such a PRETTY post, though! :)

  17. Thank you for your so precious advices, Dearest One, I so love to come and visit you here, I always find something interesting involving me or something amazing putting my spirits so high, I'm so grateful to you for this !

    Hope you're having a lovely week I wish you blessed days to come,
    sending my dearest love to you


  18. I'm confessing one of my quirks here, but I love ironing linens! I have a huge collection of vintage/antique linens so I do it quite a bit. There is so much satisfaction in soaking old discolored linens and then ironing them up all white and clean and smelling wonderful. One of those things that relaxes me and clears my mind...
    Have a great evening! X, Tina

  19. My mom is still an ironing lover. Great post and tips. I'm sharing it on FB.

  20. JEMMA! Again, I am having problems catching your comment box; it keeps jumping around on me and I can't leave a comment!

    I was never, ever an ironing person. My mother was faithful and diligent about the ironing, and something went south when I came to age....

    But linen is a very precious textile that I need to take care of but your tips are great to have! Once school is out (next week!) I can start to think about my home and all the things I've neglected since last September!

    Much love to you dear one. Anita

  21. Great tips for linen. I am afraid of bleach but I will have to try it on my linen table cloths and napkins. I try to avoid buying linen clothing because of the wrinkles but I recently bought a jacket that turned out to be 100% linen even though it didn't feel like it or wrinkle at all. Even linen is changing!

  22. Hi Jemma! Linen is my favourite type of fabric, although caring for it does make me nervous, so I loved your wonderful tips! I did not know it was best to iron the wrong side of coloured linen, so now I do!!! Really helpful and interesting post! ;)

  23. Beautiful linens, great tips and gorgeous photos!

    You can never have too many linens! We eat with cloth napkins for every meal so we go through a lot. We use my treasured pieces too because at my age, I might as well use everything up.

    Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  24. While not my favorite chore, there is something very relaxing and rewarding that comes from ironing. Linen is such a great fabric here where it gets so terribly hot in the summer.

  25. Thanks Jemma so much for sharing these linen tips with us at Cooking and Crafting with J&J!

  26. These are great tips! :)

    I’d love for you to share it with my Recipe and Crafts Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!


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