We love linen as a fabric, and it is ideal to wear during the hot, humid summer season. We find it to be a lightweight, breathable fabric that makes sweat evaporate quickly. But, staining your favourite linen shirt can be a nightmare, and removing the stain from the fabric could be challenging.
Fortunately, over time we have learnt how to conquer these tough stains and get rid of them effortlessly. To make it easier for you, we have shared a step-by-step guide on how to wash a linen shirt in the washing machine!
Why We Need to Wash Linen Clothes With Care
Did you know that linen is made from a natural fibre obtained from the stem of the flax plant? Well, we didn’t and were glad to learn this interesting fact as it helped us understand that these threads, when woven into the fabric, lend it the classic linen-like properties:-
Moth, bacteria and sweat resistance
Unlike cotton, linen is weaker when wet, making it more prone to abrasion; hence we must wash linen clothes with care.
- Cold water
- Large sink
- Tub or bucket
How to Remove Stains From a Linen Shirt
Check the Garment Label
While we can mostly wash all linen clothes at home, it’s always best to check the manufacturer’s garment care label before starting any stain removal process. Labels that mention ‘dry cleaning’ must be cleaned only by professional dry cleaners to prevent mishaps like stretching, shrinking etc.
Attack the Stain As Soon As Possible
We have seen time and again that the longer a stain is allowed to sit on a linen shirt, the more difficult it is to remove. Food stains, in particular, are easier to get rid of if they haven’t already dried out.
Scrape off any Excess Liquid or Solid Residue
We generally opt for a flat butter knife or spoon to gently remove any food residue on the stain. For example, if you have dropped some jelly on your shirt or a dollop of ketchup, you can use a spoon to easily scoop it up before getting into actual stain removal.
Never use a sharp object for residue removal as it can easily tear the delicate fabric!
A. Do not attempt to press or squeeze the stain on the linen as it can go deeper into the fabric, making it harder to remove
B. In case of residual liquids like juice or cold drink, try not to wring the fabric; instead, shake the liquid off gently
Blot the Stain
Now is the time to gently dab the stain with a paper towel or white cloth. We have seen that this step helps absorb a lot of the stain onto the towel. We always work from the outer perimeter of the stain to the inner part to prevent the stain from spreading any further. At this stage, rubbing or applying too much pressure on the stain can backfire. Instead of removing the stain, you may set the stain deeper into the linen fabric.
Soak in a Detergent Solution
Fill a bucket or tub with enough water to cover the stained linen shirt. Add a quarter or full cup of detergent to this water. Earlier, we used to use powder detergent at this stage. But, we noticed that it would not dissolve properly in water and leave white detergent residue on our shirts, which would look particularly unsightly on our dark coloured linen shirts. So, we switched to a liquid detergent like Surf Excel Matic Liquid. We typically worry about using detergents for our delicate garments, thinking they might cause wear and tear or colour fading. But, when we used a solution of Surf Excel Matic Liquid with water, our worries were put to rest. We submerged our stained linen shirt into this solution and allowed it to soak for about an hour and then carried on with the usual washing routine. We were satisfied to see that It was able to remove the tough stains off our linen shirt without causing any damage.
A word of caution
In the case of dyed linen shirts, we have observed that specific colours like khaki can be unstable, and before washing, we need to check for colour fastness. Hence we recommend testing on the inside hem or seam of the garment before soaking the garment in detergent solution.
Wash as Usual in Washing Machine
After soaking, we put the linen shirt in the machine for a wash. We pour some Surf Excel Matic Liquid Detergent directly on the stain and use the unique stain scrubbing cap that comes along with it to rub the stain.
We then turn our linen shirt inside out to prevent the surface fibres from breaking. We always use the gentle cycle with warm water if it’s an oil-based stain and cold water for other types of stains as it does not cause any damage to the fabric.
After the wash, we saw that the stain on our linen shirt had disappeared, that too, without hours of scrubbing and soaking. Also, there was no white detergent residue on the garment and the texture and appearance of the linen shirt remained intact.
GSC Tip:- Add Fabric Conditioner During the Final Rinse
Fabric conditioners such as Comfort Core After Wash fabric conditioner are known to form a protective layer on the fibres and help retain their original texture and softness.
Dry Your Linen Shirt
The dryer is another heat source that permanently sets the stain into linen. Hence, we always prefer to air or line dry our linen clothes. We have also noticed that hanging our linens to dry helps minimise wrinkles.
Do you use a specific detergent for delicate fabrics?
Did You Know that Chlorine Bleach Could Weaken Linen Fibres?
We have learnt that undiluted bleach should never be directly applied on linens, even if they are white in colour. While diluted bleach solution can be used safely on linen for stain removal or whitening, there have been instances when even diluted solutions have weakened the linen fibres causing them to rip and tear apart when used frequently.
You May Also Like to Read: Try These Tips to Keep Your Linen Garments in Pristine Condition
What should you use to wash linens?
Ideally, linens are best washed with a mild detergent like Surf Excel Matic Liquid. As linen gets softer naturally with every wash, the use of fabric softeners can be avoided on a regular basis. It could end up weakening the fibres and reducing their absorbency and moisture-wicking properties.
Do linen garments need ironing?
Linen connoisseurs believe that the natural crease of the linen lends it a rustic charm and don’t prefer to iron them. However, if you must iron a linen garment, do so while it’s slightly damp.
Is it fine to hand wash linens?
Linen is a delicate fabric which is why hand washing could be a great way to clean them. Just add a mild detergent in water and carefully swish the garment in it. Press it slightly where it needs extra attention and make sure to never wring it to prevent stretching.
What happens if hot water is used to wash linens?
If water of temperatures higher than 40 C is used to wash linens it could shrink. Thus, linen garments must always be washed with cold or lukewarm water only.
What are some common mistakes made while washing linen?
Crowding too many items at once in the washing machine can twist or pull the linen fabric out of shape. Select the highest water level available in the washing machine as linens are very absorbent.