Caring and Storing for Linens

Linen is a very strong fabric. With a minimum amount of proper care, the natural beauty of linen is easily maintained and can last for many years. Linen increases in strength when wet, which is why it stands up to the rough and tumble of repeated laundering so well. Linen is a strong natural fiber. Irish linen wears extremely well and can maintain the special qualities throughout its long life through normal household use. The more linen is washed the softer and more luminous it becomes.

WASHING YOUR LINENS

Please always ensure you check any specific care instructions, like ‘wash separately’ or ‘wash with like colors’. If not, colorfast colors may bleed, fade, or migrate to other areas of the garment, or other items in the wash load. There are also may be specific instructions for certain types of linen for ‘dry clean only’.

  1. Unfold your linens completely before washing.
  2. Wash dark colors separately from white colors.
  3. Wash your linen as soon as possible after a spill or spot.
  4. Do not overload the machine.
  5. Avoid all types of bleaches.
  6. Machine wash in warm (not hot) water on gentle cycle. Recommended temperature is a warm wash, 40° C or 104° F as a maximum.
  7. Fine hand-embroidered linen needs to be treated with care and should be hand washed or machine washed at 40°C or 104°F.
  8. You may use any mild detergent or soap.
  9. Do not use chlorine, bleach, stain removers or detergents with lighteners.
  10. Never pour detergent or soap directly on your textiles, unless for any specific spot removal.
  11. Do not use fabric softeners. These only coat the fibers and make them “appear” to be soft.

DRYING YOUR LINENS

  1. Do not overload the dryer so that the linen can move freely during the drying process.
  2. It is best not to tumble dry linen as this can over dry the fibers and makes ironing more difficult.
  3. If you wish to use a dryer, use the lowest setting and never dry completely. Always remove linens from the dryer while still damp. Do not over-dry. Use a short cycle setting as linen dries quickly.
  4. Remove linens as soon as possible from the washer to avoid excess wrinkles.
  5. Use a medium temperature machine setting and a slower tumble setting, if available.

IRONING YOUR LINENS

  1. Always iron linen when damp as this is the ideal time to press them. Press on the underside (reverse side) using a well-padded ironing board and a clean iron.
  2. In replace of an iron, textile steamers are excellent for pressing/removing wrinkles from linen.
  3. There is no need to use starch except perhaps for the finest linens, for linen has built-in crispness.
  4. If the linen has already dried out before ironing, use a water spray to re-dampen it. A good steam iron will work best on linen.
  5. 100% linen and linen-cotton can be ironed at the highest temperature with a hot steam iron
  6. Linen-polyester can be ironed with steam with a medium hot iron

STORING YOUR LINENS

General linens can be folded neatly. If you can, store tablecloths without folding. Linen tablecloths store best when rolled to avoid wrinkles. Storage should be dry and away from light with some air circulation. Avoid cupboards with heating pipes running through them or cedar linen chests, as these can discolor linen. If by mischance your whiter linens become discolored, wash as soon as possible and dry in the sun to whiten again.

REMOVING STAINS FROM YOUR LINENS

For stain treatment, it really is a matter of what the stain is, and how long it has been there.  It is important to soak the linen in water for stain removal. As the water is absorbed by the fabric, the linen fibers swell, and offer a good amount of stain removal simply by soaking in warm water and changing periodically to keep it warm (can be up to a week is needed for old stains/yellowing).   Other stains may require other treatments, but most importantly – no bleach.  Even color safe bleach is often bad for linen.  Mild soap is the best bet, and again, lots of time soaking.

For a cleaning, try these tips:

  1. If wine is spilled, immediately splash seltzer water on the spot and place a dry towel underneath it.
  2. For food stains, not much can be done until after the meal. When the meal is finished, “spot” the stains with diluted mild detergent and fill the washing machine with warm water. Now let them soak all night long. In the morning, turn the machine on and this usually will take care of it. If you still have a problem, then soak another 24 hours in enzyme reactive stain removers. Dry and press.
  3. For candle wax, scrape off as much as you can only when it is hard. Place a brown paper bag over the wax and iron on top of this, changing positions frequently until all wax is absorbed. You should then “spot” that place with diluted detergent and follow the soaking instructions above.
  4. For our Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen tablecloths, it is recommended to use a soap bar called ‘shout’ for stain removal on those tablecloths.

Use these wash and care instructions to enjoy your linens for a long time to come.

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