Linen has always been a very versatile and useful fabric, some basic care and maintenance are all linen needs to last a long time. The tips and suggestions listed below, on how to clean linen, will help you maintain and use all your linen items, whether old or new. Read on...
Basic cleaning. If the linen feels dusty or is covered with dirt, you can get rid of the powdery debris in a few ways:
- Holding the edges of the fabric in both hands, flap your hands vigorously to shake off dirt or dust
- Use a dry fabric brush or feather duster to remove the dirt or dust
- Place the material on a flat surface and vacuum gently with the setting on the vacuum cleaner on its lowest level. Keep the nozzle at a reasonable safe distance from the fabric to avoid having it suctioned off
Washing and cleaning methods. Before washing the full material, do a spot test to check whether the fabric's colors are strong and that there will be no leaching once the fabric is wet. You can do this using a small piece of white cloth as a blotter. Dip the cloth into water, squeeze out the excess liquid and blot the linen with it to check if the color runs. As an alternative to water, use a diluted liquid soap solution to test the color. For regular washing of linen materials, do the following:
- Dip the fabric into the diluted soap solution and scrub lightly with your hands (no brushes, etc!). Make sure to cover the full area of the material while it is suspended in the cleaning solution
- If there are any stains which do not come out with the hand-scrubbing, mix some lemon juice with salt and use this solution to remove the stubborn stains
- Once you're through cleaning the fabric, rinse in lots of cold water. Use distilled water for the final rinse and make sure the soap has been thoroughly removed from the fabric.
Drying linen. The best way to dry your newly-washed linens is to spread it outdoors on a flat surface, anchoring the fabrics with some weights, so that they don't fly away in the breeze. If you're laying them outdoors, on a floor, place a layer of towels first, which will help in removing any excess liquid.
Ironing. Set the iron on the mildest setting or use the setting marked ‘linen'. Use a very light hand while ironing, it is also preferable to give the starch a pass, otherwise, use it very sparsely.
Helpful tips. Never dry-clean your old linens - the chemicals and the copious amounts of heat applied during the dry-cleaning process will damage the fibers and destroy the fabric.
Take very good care of your old linens, by following the cleaning and laundry methods discussed above. This will ensure that the fabric remains well-preserved and can be used for a very long time.