linen fabric

Does Linen Shrink When Washed and Dried?

Linen is a natural, durable fabric which, with proper care, can last a long time. This is why it’s often used for clothing, bed clothes and tablecloths. 

It keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter. It’s a favourite for summer clothing and bed linen as the loose weave enables heat to escape from your body. 

It’s perfect layered over warmer clothes in winter because it’s breathable and won’t trap in sweat when wearing many layers.

Even though linen is sturdy, exposure to water and heat causes the plant fibres to retract. It requires care and attention when washing as doing so incorrectly can cause it to shrink. 

Read on to find out how to avoid shrinkage when washing your linens. 


Does Linen Shrink with Every Wash?

Does Linen Shrink with Every Wash

You can expect some shrinkage after the first time you wash your linen. This can be around 5-10%, which is why linen clothing is often made slightly larger than regular sizes. 

Once linen has shrunk the first time, it should not shrink further in subsequent washes, as long as you follow the care instructions. 

Extreme water temperatures can cause linen to shrink again, so washing it in water that’s too hot or too cold may cause it to shrink further. 


Does Linen Shrink in the Dryer?

Linen will shrink in a tumble dryer the first time it’s dried and can do so up to 10-15%. As mentioned before, heat can cause linen to shrink. This is why it’s advisable to line dry your linens. 

However, if you do need to dry linen quickly, be sure to use a low heat setting and a short cycle. It’s also best to remove linen when it’s still damp and let it finish air drying. 


How to Wash Linen

how to wash linen

Generally, it’s safe to machine wash linen at 30-40 degrees Celsius on a normal cycle, with a low spin speed

Be sure to check the care label on your linen items and follow the instructions as stated. 

If in doubt, and in order to prolong the lifespan of your linen, machine wash on a delicate cycle or hand wash your linen items.

When caring for linen, be sure to follow these tips: 

  • Use a delicate detergent.
  • Avoid washing linens with heavy fabrics such as denim as this could cause damage. 
  • Don’t overload the washing machine

You don’t need to add fabric softener when you wash linen items as they become softer with every wash. 


Should You Size Up When Buying Linen Clothing?

You don’t usually need to size up in linen because manufacturers are aware of the initial shrinkage and for this reason, they usually make their clothing slightly larger than the regular size. 

That said, if you are on the larger side of your size, keep in mind that the garment could shrink up to 10%, so you may want to size up if you prefer a looser, oversized fit. 


Can You Stretch Linen When It Shrinks?


Yes, you can try the below method to stretch out your linen if you find that it has shrunk too much. 

Unfortunately, if you drastically shrink your linen, you probably won’t be able to restore it to its original size. Linen can only stretch to a certain extent. 

If your linen item is feeling a little snug, follow these steps:

  1. Soak your item in lukewarm water for around 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the item from the water and hang it to dry until the excess water drips out.
  3. While the item is still damp, lay it on a towel.
  4. Iron the fabric on a low heat setting from the centre to the edges.
  5. You can gently press the fabric outwards to encourage stretching but don’t drag the iron as this can ruin your item.