How to Maintain Linens

Linen is a textile made from the flax plant. Modern linen is often combined with hemp or cotton fibers in a weave. The term linen can also describe kitchen, bath and bed textiles. These textiles may not contain much or any linen, because modern linen is not produced in large quantities and can be very expensive. In order to keep linens fresh, avoid dust mites and make them last for years, you must carefully maintain them throughout the year. This article will tell you how to maintain linens.


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    Remove all of your linens from their cabinets twice per year in order to do an overhaul.
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    Clean the sides of your linen cabinets with an all-purpose cleaner when you remove all of the linens.
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    Go through all your linens and decide if you want to give any away or donate them to the local thrift store. If you are keeping too many linens in 1 cabinet or drawer, it may be hard to ensure they are organized and clean.
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    Wash linens if they smell dusty, dirty or moldy. They can easily become stagnant in a drawer, especially if you keep them in an old piece of furniture or built in cabinet.
    • Wash your larger linens with a very gentle detergent and lukewarm water. Do not use bleach on colored items.
    • Wash smaller or delicate items by hand, in a sink with lukewarm water and a small amount of gentle detergent.
    • Use an extra rinse cycle if your table linens are very dirty. You can also use more detergent in this case.
    • Rinse washed linens well. Soap left in the fibers will scorch when ironed.
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    Bleach white linens with a hydrogen-peroxide based bleach.
    • If you are washing them by hand, use a cream conditioner on your last rinse to make the white linens soft.
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    Dry them on a clothesline whenever possible. It is a good idea to do your linen cleaning in spring, summer or early fall, when the weather is nice enough to allow line drying.
    • If you have to use a machine dryer, only leave the linens in for half the cycle. Take them out and hang them over a rack until they are almost completely dry.
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    Iron linens when they are still slightly wet on a medium to high setting.
    • If your cloth has a design or embroidery, iron it from the inside, so you don't risk hurting the designs.
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    Starch linens using spray starch and a medium iron setting. This is a step that applies mostly for formal linen use.
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    Organize your linens by type. Separate them by type, and stack them so the most used linens, like towels, are near the top. If your family is hunting for 1 of these popular items, they will not disturb or remove linens during their search, if their item is on top.
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    Store your linens in a place that will not attract mildew. For instance, a cupboard in or very near the bathroom would not be a good place to keep them.
    • Make sure your linens are completely dry before storing them.
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    Place sets of linens in linen or cloth bags and close them tightly.
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    Seal them in a plastic bag, if you are going to use them within a month or two. You can find large plastic bags at most home stores. After cleaning the linens, fold them neatly and place them in a sealed plastic bag without exposure to oxygen; they will remain fresh until you need to use them.

Things You'll Need

  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Washing machine
  • Clothesline
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Starch spray (optional)
  • Cloth storage bags
  • Large Plastic bags
  • Gentle detergent
  • hydrogen peroxide-based bleach
  • Drawer or closet
  • Water

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Laundry