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Does Linen Shrink? Keep Your Linen Clothing & Sheets From Shrinking

linen duvet cover in ocean
Written By
Parachute Team
Photographs By
JESSICA SCHRAMM FOR PARACHUTE
@parachutehome
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In warmer seasons, linen is one of the most luxurious fabrics around. It’s breathable, soft and it naturally absorbs moisture without feeling damp. That’s why so many of us prefer to wear linen clothes in the summer months and cover our beds with linen sheets and other linen bedding.

Like many other natural materials, linen has the unfortunate potential of shrinking with improper care. The last thing any of us wants is to lose our favorite linen shirt or linen sheet set to an avoidable shrinking mishap.

Fret not. We’ll help you find the perfect ways for maintaining your favorite linen garments and bedding and even offer some ideas to bring shrunken linen back from the brink!

Will Linen Shrink?

Though linen shrinks a bit less easily than other natural fabrics like cotton, it certainly can shrink when washed incorrectly. 

How much does linen shrink exactly? The greatest shrinkage for linen fabrics happens during the first wash cycle. Linen typically shrinks by about 4% but can shrink as much as 10% in certain conditions. 

Imagine putting a linen shirt in the laundry and taking it out to find it’s a whole size smaller. That’s certainly a situation all of us would prefer to avoid!

What Causes Linen to Shrink?

Linen is a woven textile made from flax fibers. During the process of creating linen fabric, these flax fibers stretch. When they become wet, the fibers relax back to their original, unstretched state, resulting in a bit of shrinkage.

Hot water, hot dryer temperatures and hot irons can also cause flax fibers to contract and shrink. So temperature is a major consideration when you care for your linens.

Most linen weaves are loose and breathable, but if you aren’t careful, the weave can tighten and constrict, resulting in a smaller garment or sheet.

You may also be wondering, does linen shrink over time? No, linen won’t shrink on its own. Shrinkage almost always happens as a result of improper washing and drying.

Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent linen from shrinking so you can carry on enjoying your favorite linen garments and bedding for a long time.

How to Prevent Linen From Shrinking

The first step in preventing linen clothes and bedding from shrinking is to select high-quality linen products that have been pre-washed prior to purchase. Because manufacturers know that a bit of shrinking is natural for linen, many design their garment and bedding sizes with shrinking in mind.

So, when does linen shrink? The very first wash for any linen product is when most of the expected shrinkage occurs, so selecting prewashed items ensures that the shrinkage process is already taken care of.

Keep Your Linen Sheets From Shrinking

As long as you purchase high quality linen sheets, duvet covers and other bedding, each item should come with proper care instructions to guide you. Keeping your linen sheets from shrinking is as simple as following the care instructions provided.

We’ll cover general best practices for keeping your linen bedding clean, safe and in top condition below, but here’s a great overview of washing and caring for a range of bedding materials: How to Wash and Properly Care for Bedding in 2022

If you’re concerned about keeping your delicate linen baby bedding in top condition, read this helpful guide: The Best Way to Wash, Dry, and Care for Baby Bedding & Baby Towels

Avoiding Shrinking for Linen Clothing

Because linen is such a great fabric for summer loungewear, you’re bound to eventually wear your linen clothes on a hot, sticky day. Before you toss your sweaty or soiled linen clothes in with the rest of your dirty laundry, make sure to check the washing instructions carefully. Getting linen garments clean again is easier than you think, and you can definitely prevent linen from shrinking!

Can You Fix Linen That Has Shrunk?

In a busy household, it's easy to make a mistake. We’ve all thrown a piece of clothing or bedding in the wash on the wrong setting at one time or another. So what happens when your linen bedding or linen shirts shrink? The good news is that when linen does shrink, you can restore it to its original condition with a bit of time and effort!

Unshrinking Linen Clothes

If you’ve discovered that a linen shirt, pair of pants or dress has shrunk, here’s the best way to recover your garment:

  • Rewash your linen garment according to the care instructions

  • Hang to dry until the garment is damp but not dripping wet

  • Lay your garment out on an ironing board covered with a towel and begin ironing it at a low temperature, applying pressure from the center outwards

Ironing the garment in this way will gradually restretch the fibers in a safe and non-damaging way. You may not fully restore the garment to its original condition, but you will reduce the shrinkage considerably. 

Unshrinking Linen Sheets and Bedding

Unshrinking linen bedding follows the same process used for linen garments, but it’s far more time consuming because of the size of the items. One thing is certain: if you ever have to unshrink a king size sheet set, follow the steps below to keep linen from shrinking ever again!

Proper Care to Prolong Your Linen’s Lifespan

The best way to maintain your favorite linen clothing is to keep shirts from shrinking in the first place. To prevent linen from shrinking, make sure to wash your linen items carefully and with the right wash settings. If for some reason you can’t read the care instructions for your garment or bedding, here are some safe best practices to wash and dry linen without shrinking:

Preparing Your Linens for the Wash

Select a gentle or delicate cycle for the most protection.

When filling your washing machine, make sure not to overload the drum. The more room your linen has to move around during the cycle, the less likely you are to damage the fibers.

Best Washing Temperatures for Linen

Either cold water wash or warm water wash is the best option for linen. Always avoid hot water as it’s most likely to cause linen to shrink.

Detergent and Laundry Additives

Gentle liquid detergent is best for natural fabrics like linen. You don’t want to introduce harsh chemicals like fabric softeners or bleach as they can damage the fibers. 

How to Dry Linen Without Shrinking

We’ve spent plenty of time discussing washing, but what about drying? Does linen shrink in the dryer? Yes, in fact, many of us have learned the hard way that linen can shrink after washing by drying it at too high a temperature!

The safest method of drying linen without shrinking it is to either line dry or tumble dry low in the dryer. Any heat has the potential of causing your linen to shrink, so to prevent linen from shrinking, it's best to avoid all heat settings on your dryer.

Do you still have questions about how to keep linen from shrinking? For a more in-depth look at caring for your linen garments and bedding, read on in this care guide: How to Wash, Dry and Care for Your Linen Sheets

Select Lasting Linen Sheets

Purchasing high-quality linen sheets and bedding is one of the easiest ways to ensure your linens aren’t prone to shrinking. Pre-washed linen bedding is designed with shrinking tolerances in mind, so the initial shrink is out of the way before your bedding arrives at your door.

Fill Your Bedroom With High-Quality Linen

Whether you prefer a light and airy super soft linen duvet and sheet set or a slightly heavier, lightly textured linen bed cover, Parachute offers a range of luxurious, 100% European flax linen bedding products to make your bedroom your favorite part of your home. 

Select from Linen Bed Bundles for easy, one-step bedding or mix and match quilts, shams and sheet sets to suit your style.

Choose Linen Bedding That Lasts

To prevent linen from shrinking and ensure your linen bedding lasts longer and remains delightfully soft and fresh throughout its lifespan, Parachute sources 100% European flax which is expertly and carefully loomed in Portugal.

Read on to learn more about Parachute’s carefully selected European linen: 

Dress Yourself in Luxurious Linen

Whether you’re planning a trip to the tropics or just enjoying a coffee on the deck, linen is one of the most comfortable materials you can wear. Consider investing in linen loungewear for instant comfort and relaxation at home or wherever your adventures take you!

Loungewear and Comfort-Focused Garments

Parachute takes comfort seriously. That’s why we offer only the highest quality 100% European flax, garment-washed linen robes and loungewear. With tops, tanks, pants and shorts for women and shorts, pants and shirts for men, you can fill your days with comfort in relaxed, soft and airy linen. 

Linen Garments That Last

Selecting from pure linen garments by Parachute means choosing loungewear that will last longer and stay delightfully comfortable through every wear. Parachute’s manufacturing process includes careful garment washing so you can enjoy instant softness and an immediate lived-in feel.

Enjoy Your Linen for Years to Come

High quality, natural materials like pure linen made of Europe’s finest flax, provide an instant feeling of effortless comfort and luxury. 

Selecting from Parachute’s linen loungewear and bedding collections is the first step toward years of enjoyment. By carefully laundering your linens, you can prolong the life and peak quality of your linen investment from season to season and year to year!

Read on: