Learn to Take Care of Your Linen

By: Elizabeth Voke

Not many of us can claim any degree of expertise when it comes to linen. Most of us just allow our fine linen to be destroyed by neglect and misuse while others go to the other extreme and have them professionally cleaned. Since linens are so expensive, most of us get paranoid about spoiling them and just allow them to lie in our cupboards. Instead, if we can learn to care for our linens, we can use and enjoy them for years.

The older linens are made from fine materials, and require more delicate handling because they can be damaged irreparably. If you do not learn the correct method of cleaning heirloom linens, you will destroy the linen so that no one else can ever enjoy it again.

And wouldn’t it be a shame to just store away these old linens as if they are some museum pieces just because you are so afraid of ruining them? Your decor can be so beautifully enhanced by the charm and character of some of these old linens. Of course, you will need to put in some extra effort into cleaning and maintaining these linens. But the joy of passing these down to your children in the same shape as you inherited these is well worth the tedium and time you put into caring for them.

Caring for quality linens means keeping a watchful eye out for dirt and the damage it can cause. Dirt can literally burrow down into the fibers and cause damage that is irreversible if it is allowed to set in. It is possible to safely remove this dirt by using a vacuum cleaner on the textile. For especially fragile linen, you may want to place a fiberglass screen over it first to help protect the fabric.

Basically, never store away stained or soiled linen. Always clean it before storing it. Otherwise, the insects will damage it as they go in search of food and grease.

Cleaning itself can damage the linen by changing the strength, shape and color of the fabric. Cotton fabrics can be safely cleaned with water as it helps to keep down acid build-up and the fabric will ultimately become more flexible in the process. On the other hand, water can weaken fabrics made out of silk or wool thus these are more difficult to clean and keep dirt-free.

Harsh chemicals can also certainly cause damage to fine linen so be sure to use a mild soap when cleaning these. The way to test linen to see if its colors will bleed or the fabric will fade is to dab a few drops of water in some obscure part of the linen and allow it to dry. Test the linen before you soak the entire material in water.

Giving your fine linens for dry cleaning is the last resort. The high temperatures involved in the cleaning process can damage the fabric. However, if you cannot clean it at home, you have to get them dry cleaned. But, make sure the linen is clean before you store it so that you and your children can enjoy them for a long time.

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Elizabeth Voke is the webmaster for F linen, the #1 source on the internet for information about linen. For questions or comments about this article visit: www.flalinen.com/articles

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