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How to Care for Linen Shirts and Pants

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We know linen.

And, quite frankly, it’s incredibly easy to care for. One step further…you can change up the look just based on how you care for it.

Here’s the “secret sauce” in getting the best out of your linens.

A few quick facts to get a little baseline data. First, like a cotton, it can shrink. We prewash our linens to mitigate that, and you can also take a few steps to help your linens out.

Linen is pretty durable. Flax is more of a northern climate plant vs. cotton which is more of a warmer climate plant. It will do just great in your regular laundry.

Also, its quick-drying. (key point).

And…a great choice for travel or warm weather. The fibers in linen have a “wicking” element which pulls moisture from your body. Given how quickly it can dry, plus that tendency to shrink, air drying is best bet. (but I still just toss it in the dryer on low or no heat and am fine)

Here’s our approach:

  • Avoid hot water. Go for either warm or cold water (best)
  • If a darker color, stick with cold to avoid fading
  • Actually, let’s make this simple…stick with cold for linen
  • Gentle cycle and wash linen alongside similar lightweight or delicate fabrics, which means…
  • Avoid mixing heavy items like jeans, hoodies or towels in a load with linen clothes. (it’s like a classic wine, don’t toss some Sprite in there and mess it up)
  • Use a mild detergent, the detergents for baby clothes do well
  • Avoid the use of fabric softener, and
  • Never use bleach, even if it's white.

Quick note…If you do need to brighten up white or light-colored linen clothes, use an oxygenated bleach. If it has yellowed from age or old stains, try Restoration Fabric Restorer. Pretty good bet it will safely and effectively bring the garment back to its original state.

Now for the most vexing question…iron it or “go natural”. This one is all about you. If you’re rolling to something a little more formal, like a beach wedding or something dressier, then hit it with an iron to “crisp” it up a bit. Or, pass on the ironing and let it be a little “rugged”. Same shirt, different look.

One exception to the above are linen suits and blazers. They have a bit more structure to them and benefit from the classic dry cleaning.

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