Does Linen Material Shrink In The Wash?

Why do garments shrink?

Undoubtedly, this is one of the common questions asked by homeowners.

It can be challenging to determine the main reason why your fabric keeps on shrinking after washing.

But first, you have to remember that different fabrics have different compositions. Therefore, the causes of shrinking vary depending on the type of material. Even so, not all fabrics experience shrinking.

In this article, we evaluate the linen material and ask; does linen shrink in the wash?

Does linen fabric shrink?

The answer to this question is pretty straightforward. Linen does shrink, primarily if it is not handled with care.

The leading cause of shrinking in linen is heat. Typically, linen fiber reacts adversely with high temperatures.

So, if you wash linen using hot water and use a dryer to dry it, the fabric would experience intense shrinking.

Consequently, linen won’t offer excellent aesthetics and functionality anymore. And the worst part is that it can be tough to restore shrunk linen.

So, it is always advisable to implement all the preventative measures to keep linen in good condition. But before you do so, it would be best to understand the fabric linen and how it works.

Composition of linen fabric

The best way to prevent linen fabric from shrinking is to first understand the composition of the material.

Linen fibers come from flax plants. These plants are mostly found in cold geographical areas like France and Belgium.

What happens is that once farmers harvest the flax plant, they source out the fibers from the plant through a process popularly known as retting. Fibers get sourced out by placing the flax plant in water and then dried outside.

During this process, the fiber naturally detaches themselves, allowing a farmer to collect them.

After collection, the long fiber gets separated from the short fibers. Then the long fibers are blended to form a textile product. These fibers are very robust; hence the reason why linen offers high durability.

Why does linen clothing shrink?

When manufacturing linen, the fibers are often stretched to produce the best results. Placing linen in water makes the fibers lie down at ease. As a result, the fibers go back to their initial state. And when this happens, linen shrinks.

Nonetheless, note that every linen cloth is different. Thus, not all of them shrink like this. Aside from that, exposing linen to too much heat makes it shrink.

Usually, linen fibers shrink naturally when they come in contact with heat. Therefore, always use cold water to wash and rinse linen garments.

How can I stop my linen from shrinking?

Below are ways of managing linen fabric;

Use cold water

As mentioned earlier, linen does not react well with hot water. Thus, when it comes to washing linen, always use cold water.

Using cold water to do your laundry is beneficial since it helps you save on a great deal of energy.

Do not use dryers

One of the leading causes of linen shrinkage is exposure to high temperatures. Therefore, after washing your linen garments, avoid using dryers.

Instead, place your linen out in the sun to dry. When you use a dryer, the fibers of the linen fabric would shrink and become weak.

Even so, if you’d like to use the linen garment right away, use low heat iron to dry the linen while it’s still damp.

Doing this won’t tamper with the original state of the fibers. When you have placed linen out in the sun to dry, please do not leave it for a long time.

All in all, always follow all the washing and drying instructions indicated by the manufacturer.

Use a mild detergent when washing

In some instances, some types of detergent can lead to linen shrinkage. Today, laundry detergents get manufactured from a broad spectrum of toxic ingredients.

And these ingredients can be harmful to various fabrics. In particular, harsh detergents may react negatively with linen fibers and in turn cause shrinkage.

So, before washing linen, ensure that you have appropriate laundry detergents. Always go for plant-based laundry detergents to be safe.

Dealing with linen shrinkage

As the old saying goes, every problem has a solution. Therefore, in case you find yourself with shrunk linen, there are several techniques you can use to restore the fabric to its original shape.

When you find yourself with shrunk linen, it will help if you rewash it. So, place the linen in the washing machine under the gentle setting. Then, rinse it thoroughly as required. Afterward, hang it outside to dry.

But don’t let the linen dry entirely in the sun. Please remove it from the hanging line while it is still damp (water should have stopped dripping at this point).

Then, take your iron and set it to the lowest temperature mode. Then, iron the linen while it is still damp.

Unquestionably, this process can be relatively time and effort consuming. But choose to focus on the results.

When ironing, it is always advisable to begin from the center of the fabric. Then, gently move towards the corners and the edges of the linen garment.


You need not worry about exposing the linen to heat. Ironing the fabric while it’s still damp retains favorable temperatures for the linen.

Iron the fabric until it is completely dry. After completing the process, the linen would be back to its original state.

Note that this recovery process may not restore all areas of the linen that had experienced extreme shrinking. However, it would have stretched out all the fibers; hence make the linen appear much better.


Linen is prone to shrinkage when exposed to unfavorable conditions like high temperatures. Therefore, it is advisable to incorporate all the highly recommended maintenance practices when dealing with linen garments.

We all know how shrinking interferes with the aesthetics and functionality of a garment. Thus, always try your best to read and understand the instructions indicated on your linen bed sheet label or manual.

Consequently, you would be able to prevent shrinking. But if you ever find yourself with shrunk linen, consider rewashing the garment and ironing it while it’s still damp.

The iron should be on low heat. From this article, it is clear to see that linen does shrink in the wash. But there are numerous techniques to prevent this problem.