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Linen Traits & Care



Ironing Tips

Dry Cleaning

Storing Linen

Laundering Tips

Traveling With Linen

Stain Removal Chart

Cleaning Interior Furnishings


Linen, a natural product, results from the interaction of sun, rain, soil and the flax plant. Just as the growing flax plant requires nurturing, finished linen products respond to "tender loving care" to preserve their quality. A linen product bearing the MASTERS OF LINEN label guarantees that it is made of superior European Quality Linen, the finest in the world.

Not all linen is alike!
MASTERS OF LINEN: A new guarantee for the consumer. MASTERS OF LINEN is the collective trademark of the Western European linen industry, created to offer the consumer a guarantee concerning the origin, the composition and the quality of linen. Different labels specify pure linen, minimum 50% linen and a linen-cotton mixture (cotton warp/linen weft).

Maintaining the beauty of a pure linen damask tablecloth, a handsome summer dress, elegant draperies or a set of fresh sheets and pillowcases can be done either by laundering the linen item or by dry cleaning it. Most important in deciding which to choose is following the care instructions supplied by the manufacturer. These instructions, whether for laundering or dry cleaning, take into account many "unknowns," such as the degree the linen fabric was pre-shrunk, composition of thread and trimmings, dyes used, treatments for crease or stain resistance, tightness of weave and construction of the textile



Many people prefer to launder linen, especially table linens, handkerchiefs and bed linen, because the more linen is washed, the softer and more luminous it becomes. Its luminous quality is caused by nodes on the flax fibers, which reflect light. These same people often choose to wash linen articles because they know linen, as a natural fiber, launders beautifully.

Shirts and other garments worn close to the body are easily washed. Freshly washed linen has a naturally clean fragrance and gives one the sense of well-being. In the case of hand or machine washing use a sufficient amount of water since linen is very absorbant.

A variety of drying methods is recommended for linen: line drying, machine drying or rolling in terry towels. Whatever method you use, remember to remove the linen from the line, the dryer or the towels while it is still damp. If linen dries thoroughly, it becomes brittle and takes several hours to recover its natural moisture and full flexibility. (The natural moisture content of linen is between 6-8%. Linen dried beyond this point will re-absorb moisture from the air.)


Ironing Tips

Most people regard ironing as a chore. But ironing linen can become a less onerous task if you do it when the linen is damp. If linen is taken out of the dryer or off the line while still damp and then ironed immediately, the chore ceases to be a chore at all.

Be sure the soleplate of your iron is clean and smooth for quicker and easier ironing.

If you have a steam iron, check for mineral deposits, which can cause brown spotting.

Check your ironing board and its cover. For speedy ironing, use well padded boards with smooth heat-reflective covers.

Begin with dampened linen. Steam ironing dry linen is less effective than dry or steam ironing dampened linens. A professional steamer is the only appliance that provides enough steam to remove wrinkles from heavier linens. The steam from a household iron is just not enough.

Store linen items in a plastic bag in the refrigerator or freezer from 6 to 24 hours before ironing. This will make them easier to iron and will prevent mildew.

Use spray starch (if desired) and iron with a steam iron at a medium to hot setting. Starch provides extra crispness, particularly to napkins to be folded into fancy shapes. For a softer look, select spray-on fabric sizing instead. In a pinch, smooth things over with spray-on wrinkle remover.

Iron on the wrong side first, then on the right side to bring out the sheen, especially damasks and light-colored linens. Iron dark linens on the wrong side only.

Choose a temperature setting compatible with the fabric weight. Pure linen can withstand the highest temperature setting on your iron. Test an inconspicuous corner first.

Iron linen until smooth but not dry. Once wrinkles are gone, hang the linen item until it is bone dry.

When ironing embroidered linen, keep the embroidery stitches rounded and dimensional by pressing item on the wrong side atop a soft towel.

Use a press cloth to safeguard delicate lace and cutwork. A press cloth also helps to avoid press marks over seams, hems and pockets.

Place a table next to the ironing board when ironing large tablecloths. Roll finished sections of the cloth over the table rather than letting it pile up under the ironing board.

Minimize creasing ironed tablecloths by rolling them around a tube or hanging them.


Dry Cleaning

Today, most manufacturers of linen garments and other linen items, especially interior furnishings, recommend dry cleaning. Why, if linen is a natural-fiber fabric and can be washed? Through the ages people have washed linen in streams and boiled linen in pots to get it clean. To dry it, they simply spread the linen out to dry in the sun.

The underlying reason is not the linen, rather the dyes, finishes, interfacing, lining, buttons, trim and even the thread that may be used in construction, of garments especially. Undyed sanitorized linen launders beautifully, but few things are fashioned out of undyed linen. The added treatments and additions to the fabric complicate the cleaning process. If dry cleaning is the method of cleaning used, it is important to point out spots so the dry cleaner can pretreat the stain correctly.

If dry cleaning is recommended, choose a dry cleaner who does work on the premises. Ask whether solvents are regularly changed. If white linens turn gray or yellow, it may be an indication that the solvents need to be replaced.

Probably the most quoted reason for choosing dry cleaning over laundering is that it is easier, and less time-consuming. The decision rests with the consumer if the manufacturer's care label offers the choice of laundering or dry cleaning.


Storing Linen

Always launder or dry clean linen before storing.

Soiled linen encourages mildew, so linens must be clean before storing. Ventilation, light and lack of available food discourage mildew growth. If mildew does attack your linens, brush the mold off outdoors to avoid scattering spores in your house. Then soak the linen item in a solution of oxygen bleach and water before laundering. If possible, dry in the sun.

Be sure to rinse thoroughly all soap and detergent from linen items to avoid formation of "age spots," caused by the oxidation of cellulose, linen's primary component.

Store in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area.

Use pure linen, cotton or muslin, not synthetics, as covers or garment bags.

Use acid-free tissue paper, not regular tissue paper. The acids in regular tissue paper can yellow linen.

Do not store linens in plastic bags, cedar chests and cardboard boxes. Fumes from petroleum-based polyurethane can rot and streak the fabric. Cedar fumes and the acids in unvarnished wood yellow linen, as does the acid in cardboard.

When storing for a long time, refold the linen occasionally.


Laundering Tips

Use pure soap or gentle detergent when laundering linens.

Soap works best in soft water. (In hard water it forms curds that makes fabrics dingy and stiff).

Launder any stains when fresh. If allowed to set, stains may be impossible to remove at a later date.

Use oxygen-type bleaches for white linen, instead of chlorine bleaches which can cause yellowing.

Select a water temperature between warm to hot, depending on the care instructions.

Place delicate or fringed linens in a pillowcase before putting them into a washing machine.

Whether hand or machine washing, be sure to rinse the linen item completely in lots of water to remove all soap, detergent and residual soil. This will help to avoid formation of "age spots" which are caused by oxidation of cellulose (linen's primary component).

Once rinsing and spinning cycles on a washing machine are complete, either line dry the linen items, lay them flat or hang garments -- all until slightly damp. Avoid wringing out linen before drying.

To keep white linens white, try drying them in the sun.


Traveling With Linen

Iron linen garments before packing for a trip.

Stuff sleeves and wrap garments with tissue paper. You can use regular tissue paper for packing for travel.

Cover garments with plastic dry cleaning bags to help prevent wrinkling.

Fold or hang garments in luggage at the last possible minute. When hanging garments in a garment bag or fold-over luggage, pull arms of jackets and blouses around to the front.

Unpack and hang up garments as soon as possible upon arrival.

Use a travel iron to press out any creases that may have developed in travel. Do not try to steam out wrinkles; wrinkles must be pressed out with an iron.


Stain Removal Chart

Always follow CARE labels.
If you are going to launder, follow these instructions for removing stains.

BALLPOINT INK Hold stain against towel, spray closely from behind with aerosol hair spray. Ink should transfer to towel
BEVERAGES Soak in cool water. Re-wash with stain remover. Launder using chlorine bleach (if safe for fabric) or oxygen bleach.
BLOOD Immediately rinse with cool water. For dried stains, soak in warm water with a product containing enzymes. Launder.
CANDLE WAX Scrape off as much as possible with dull side of knife, then iron between absorbent paper, changing paper until wax is absorbed.
CHOCOLATE Pre-wash with product containing enzymes in warm water or treat with pre-wash stain remover. Launder.
COLLAR, CUFF SOIL Pre-wash with stain remover, liquid laundry detergent or paste of granular detergent and water. Launder.
COSMETICS Pre-wash with stain remover, liquid laundry detergent or paste of granular detergent and water or rub with bar of soap. Launder.
DAIRY PRODUCTS Soak in a product containing enzymes for at least 30 minutes (hours for aged stains). Launder.
Pre-treat with liquid laundry detergent. Launder. For heavy stains pre-treat with pre-wash stain remover. Allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes. Launder using an oxygen bleach.
EGG Soak in product containing enzymes. Launder.
FRUIT JUICE Rinse with cool water.
GRASS Soak in product containing enzymes. If stains persist, launder using a chlorine bleach (if safe for fabric) or oxygen bleach.
GREASE SPOTS, OIL Pre-treat with pre-wash stain remover or liquid laundry detergent. For heavy stains, place stain face down on clean paper towels. Apply cleaning agent to back of stain. Replace paper towels under stain frequently. Let dry, rinse and launder using hottest water safe for fabric.
INK Use ink eradicator on undyed, untreated linen.
LEMON, LIME JUICE, VINEGAR Rinse immediately with cool water.
LIPSTICK On pure linen, rub with a little salad oil to dissolve lipstick, then launder to remove oil.
MEAT JUICE Rinse with cool, never hot, water.
MILDEW Badly mildewed fabrics may be beyond repair. Launder stained item using chlorine bleach, (if safe for fabric). Or soak in oxygen bleach and hot water. Then launder.
PERSPIRATION Use pre-wash stain remover or rub with bar of soap. If color of fabric has changed, apply ammonia to fresh stains, white vinegar to old stains and rinse. Launder using hottest water safe for fabric.
RED WINE Cover with salt if stain is fresh, then rinse with cool water. If stain has dried, try club soda.
SCORCH Treat same as for mildew (listed above).
TAR Scrape residue from fabric. Place stain face down on paper towels. Sponge with cleaning fluid. Replace towels frequently. Launder in hottest water safe for fabric.
TOMATO Rinse with cool water.
WHITE WINE Use club soda.


Cleaning Interior Furnishings

Dry cleaning is recommended for cleaning draperies. Selecting a reputable dry cleaner, especially one who does the work on site, provides the best opportunity for your draperies to receive a thorough, professional cleaning.

Keeping linen wallcoverings looking clean and fresh can be as simple as an occasional vacuum, using the brushless attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Because linen is anti-static, wallcoverings of linen do not attract dust. When staining occasionally occurs, use a good waterless shampoo. Choose cleaning products especially developed for fine fabrics.

Upholstery & Carpets
Dry cleaning is the recommended method for cleaning upholstery and carpets. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find a reputable, professional dry cleaner in your area.

Spot Cleaning Upholstery/Carpeting
Use a cleaning product specifically for upholstery or carpeting. Be sure to test the product on an inconspicuous area before trying to remove the stain. Carefully read and follow the product's label directions.