When you wash linen, does it shrink? (Simple Solutions) Update 05/2022

Linen is one of the most popular and favored garment textiles in the world. It’s a soft, airy fabric that dries faster than cotton. It’s also great for hot summer days and comfy to wear in hot tropical climates.

Linen is manufactured from a strong fiber derived from the flax plant. However, despite being a sturdy and absorbent fabric, linen has certain care concerns because the fabric shrinks when washed. Here are some of the most often asked questions about linen and how to keep it from shrinking when washed.

When linen is washed, does it shrink? Yes, when linen clothing is laundered, it is likely to shrink. When the fabric comes into touch with water, it has a natural propensity to shrink. If you opt to wash your linen in hot water, the shrinking will be even more noticeable, which is why lukewarm water is often advised.

What is Linen?


Linen is a 100% natural cloth that was popular in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Mesopotamia. It is heavier than other cotton fabrics and is noted for its durability and strength. It’s commonly used to manufacture summer bedding, shirts, jeans, and other goods.

Linen was formerly reserved for monarchs and other members of the royal families, but it is now widely available. Unfortunately, while the material’s plant fiber is absorbent and has a stronger fiber structure, it loses its elasticity with time, making it difficult to keep the fabric appearing young and new.

Why Does Linen Shrink?

The fact that linen is not made up of animal fibers is the answer to why it shrinks. The flax plant fibers are used to create the fabric. Plant fiber can shrink when washed in water, despite being extremely resilient and robust. This occurs because plant fibers are more prone to losing their flexibility when exposed to high water temperatures.

How Bad Does Linen Shrink?


Depending on the type of linen you buy, you can influence how excellent or awful the shrinking is. Some businesses shrink linen before using it to make clothing. The material’s capacity to shrink again was considerably diminished as a result.

Many companies, on the other hand, do not shrink the fabric before stitching, which might lead to shrinking after washing. The amount of shrinkage depends on the water temperature and the washing process.

Is There a Percentage for Linen Shrinkage?

The amount of linen shrinkage depends on a variety of circumstances, including how the fabric was created, where the plant was grown or obtained, and how excellent or awful the final material is. When cleaned, an average linen article of clothing should shrink by 4 percent. The temperature of the water used to wash the fabric can affect this.

Does Linen Shrink When Washed in Cold Water?


Yes, linen shrinks when washed in cold water, just like it shrinks when washed in hot water. The secret to keeping your linens in good condition is to wash them in lukewarm water. Extreme temperatures on either end of the temperature spectrum can damage and shrink the fabric, as well as cause it to lose its natural color.

Does Linen Shrink When Dry Cleaned?

The best approach to keep your linen clothes in good condition is to dry clean it. Dry cleaning your linen preserves the freshness of the fabric and prevents natural fibers from disintegrating. This occurs because the material’s inherent flax fibers do not break when dry cleaned, unlike when subjected to hot and cold water temperatures.

Does Linen Shrink In The Dryer?


If you use the improper type of dryer, linen can shrink in the dryer. Tumble drying, in particular, may be disastrous for linen, causing the fabric to shrink by as much as 10% to 15%. In contrast, naturally air drying the fabric usually results in only a 4% shrinkage.

Tumble drying increases the likelihood of shrinking significantly. Tumble drying generates permanent creases in the fabric and shortens the life of the garment. If you must tumble dry your linens, keep the temperature below 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius). Any temperature higher than this will cause the cloth to shrink and degrade over time.

Can Linen Shrink More Than Once With Every Wash?

Linen can shrink multiple times, depending on a variety of variables. Fabrics that have been pre-washed shrink less with subsequent washes. However, if the cloth is washed repeatedly in hot or cold conditions, it will break and shrink with each wash. It’s best to get linen that has previously been washed and then give it a lukewarm wash after each usage.

Does Linen Shrink in Length or Width?


Both the length and width of linen can shrink. When you wash your linens in hot or cold water, or tumble dry them, all of the plant fibers in the fabrics are likely to wear away in similar amounts. The entire item of clothing is expected to shrink, rather than a specific aspect of the clothes being altered in some way. The length or width shrinkage of a fabric can also be impacted by how it is air dried or hung after washing.

Does Linen Shrink More Than Cotton?

The type of cotton used will determine whether linen shrinks more than cotton. Cotton fabrics are frequently blended with other materials such as polyester, hosiery, rayon, and other fibers, which causes them to shrink differently.

If washed at an unusually high or low temperature, or tumble dried at a temperature higher than 85F, an item of 100% cotton apparel is likely to shrink in the same way as linen.

How to Shrink Linen Clothes


It’s simple to shrink linen clothing. On the first wash, most linen textiles shrink. This is also why many linen dealers wash the fabric before sewing or manufacturing clothing from it. You can either wash your linen with really hot water or cold water to shrink it. Tumble drying linen materials at a high temperature can also shrink the cloth.

How to Shrink a Pair of Linen Pants

You can decide the proper size for you by shrinking a pair of linen pants before wearing them. When you put your linen pants in the dryer or wash them in hot water, the cloth loses elasticity and eventually shrinks. A temperature of 100F to 140F is ideal for shrinking linen pants. If you don’t have access to hot water, you can shrink them with extremely cold water.

How to Shrink a Linen Shirt


A linen shirt can be shrunk in the same way as linen pants can. You can either wash it at a very low temperature or at a temperature above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In either case, the fabric’s inherent plant fiber will lose flexibility. To shrink your linen shirt, tumble dry it at a temperature higher than 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to Shrink a Linen Dress

A linen dress, like any other piece of apparel, can be shrunk by washing it in hot water above 140 degrees Fahrenheit or in extremely cold water. Both methods are equally effective. You can also tumble dry it at a temperature above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. After a wash, shrinking a linen dress can take as little as an hour.

What to do if Linen Shrinks?

All linen textiles will shrink, and the only method to avoid this is to wash your linen clothes in lukewarm water. Allowing your linen clothing to air dry instead of tumble drying can help to lessen the chance of shrinkage. You should also avoid washing linen materials in extremely hot or cold water, since this will cause the fabric to break down and shrink.

How to Fix an After Wash Linen Shrink

After a wash, you can obtain at least a half inch of the cloth dimensions back to their original length. Here’s what to do if your linen shrinks after being washed:

  • Fill a tub or pail halfway with lukewarm water. Make sure the water is only slightly warm, not boiling hot, as this can do more harm.
  • For 10 to 15 minutes, soak the piece of linen clothes in this water. Remove the item of clothes and rinse it. Don’t soak the fabric too much.
  • Squeeze the water out of the fabric gently. Make careful you squeeze gently and not too hard, since this can cause the cloth to lose its elasticity even more.
  • Air dry the item of clothes outside or in a well-ventilated place. Allow for some drying time. You can let it air dry for 15 to 20 minutes as a general guideline. You can, however, make a decision based on the climate and weather in your area.
  • Remove the fabric from the hanger while it is still damp and spread it evenly on an ironing board.
  • Place the iron in the center and move it in outer strokes across the fabric’s length and width. Begin ironing in the center and gradually cover the entire piece of clothes. The fabric will stretch back to its original size and proportions with outward ironing.

This approach is quite effective and is used by many individuals all around the world to remove the effects of linen shrinkage. However, you should be aware that ironing wet items will cause them to fade. If your linens are a darker color, you may need to place a handkerchief on top of the linen cloth before ironing it.

Using a spray bottle to reverse the effects of shrinking on your linen items is another option. This is what you must do:

  • Fill a spray bottle halfway with lukewarm water.
  • On a flat area, spread out the linen garments.
  • Spray some water on the linen garment every now and again, then iron it in outward strokes.
  • Make sure the fabric is only slightly dampened, not completely saturated, as this could cause the fabric to fade when ironed.

To Sum it Up

Linen is a vegan and 100 percent natural fabric. The material is hypoallergenic and made of plant fiber. It can also absorb a lot of moisture, making it an excellent fabric for everyday products. When it comes to summer attire, linen outfits are among of the greatest possibilities.

Many people prefer linen bedding to other types of bedding. People of all ages can wear linen since it is soft, comfy, and breathable. However, the material does necessitate some upkeep.

Keeping the machine temperature under control will ensure that your cloth does not shrink or lose its color or flexibility over time. Air drying, rather than tumbling drying, extends the material’s longevity. Linen is a wonderful cloth that can be easily maintained with a few basic tips and tricks.

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