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How to soften linen fabric

Updated April 17, 2017

Linen is produced from flax plant fibre and is highly valued for its strength, smoothness and ability to breathe during a hot summer day. However, it wrinkles easily and can be stiff and rough. You can easily soften your linen fabric to make it smooth and silky.

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  1. Soak the linen cloth in hot water. Linen is highly resistant to heat, and warm temperature allows the fibres to "relax" and therefore increase the fabric's softness.

  2. Use more agitation. The more linen is washed and spin dried, the softer it gets because the fibres are broken down during the washing and drying process. Since linen is naturally stiff, it will become soft due to the agitation brought about by frequent laundering.

  3. Make sure there is an absence of starch or other stiffening agents. Starch is notorious for making fabrics stiff. Hence, it's a substance you don't want to have on your linen if you intend to make it soft.

  4. Add an acidifier. White vinegar is a good acidifier for laundering purposes. The presence of an acid will make the fabric soft. It combats the stiffening effects of lodged detergent on the fabric.

  5. Buy a fabric conditioner. This solution is designed to soften and perfume fabrics. Fabric conditioners or softeners are readily available in supermarkets and convenient to use. It is the first choice of people who are always on the go.

  6. Use a home-made solution. Here is a useful formula you can make at home to achieve desirable softness of linen. Prepare the softening solution by mixing 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 4 cups warm water in a bucket. Soak the linen in the mixture for 20 minutes. Agitate the mixture every now and then. Air dry the linen and iron while slightly damp.

  7. Tip

    Linen has a potential for shrinking when subject to sudden change in temperature. It is recommended to allow your linen to dry on a clothesline instead of spin drying. Rinse your linen thoroughly to avoid stiffening due to detergent residue. Constant, correct practice makes perfect. Try experimenting with different techniques and maintain the one that works best for you.

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Things You'll Need

  • 1 tbs. white vinegar
  • 4 cups water

About the Author

Rossana Coscolluela

Based in North Carolina, Rossana Coscolluela has been writing since 1997. She was editor of the University of the Philippines’ “UPV Information Manual” and has also been an editorial consultant for various custom publications. She currently enjoys freelance writing. Coscolluela holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative literature from the University of the Philippines in the Visayas.

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