April 21, 2022 6 min read

Have you ever brought home a brand new linen sheet set and been less than enthused about how it feels? Did you find yourself wondering how to soften your linen sheets, or, better yet, if linen bedding gets softer at all? Fortunately, you’re not alone. While linen’s breathable, lightweight, and eco-friendly properties make it a favorite in the sleep department, they might need a little TLC to reach that cloud-like softness you dream about. So let’s learn how to wash linen bedding properly for optimal comfort. 

Does Linen Bedding Get Softer?

Does Linen Bedding Get Softer

 

Linen’s flax-sourced fibers are naturally coarse, giving the fabric an almost rough, itchy texture at first. And then, there’s also the stiffness caused by leftover residue from the manufacturing process. We know: it’s not the most appealing description. Still, don’t write off this ultra-strong, biodegradable textile based on the first touch. 

The short answer to the age-old question, “Does linen bedding get softer?,” is fortunately … yes!  

Though linen may initially feel rough, it ages beautifully. So don’t worry about wear and tear — the more you use it, the more luxurious it becomes. But time isn’t the only solution to scratchy bedding. There are plenty of simple hacks on how to soften linen sheets.

Does Linen Need Softening?

You’re certainly not required to soften your linen bedding before sleeping on it. If you’re okay with the fabric as is, then no worries! However, it’s helpful to think of this textile as new shoes: it might take a bit of breaking-in to become perfectly suited to you. 

But sensitive sleepers might not be game to leave it be. Skin conditions and sensory sensitivities, among others, can make it tough to wait out the breaking-in process. If this sounds like you, learn how to soften linen with baking soda or other DIY methods. 

Learn How to Soften Linen Sheets Using Various Trusted Methods

How to Soften Linen Sheets

Do you have a bedding set that needs some more love? Years of use isn’t the only thing that’ll turn those rough textiles into cozy covers. We’ll teach you how to soften linen with baking soda, dryer balls, and more. Don’t worry about turning your laundry room into a science experiment — these hacks are easy enough for anyone to do! 

Still, note that these techniques can only do so much. Choosing high-quality linen makes for much softer sheets than cheaper alternatives. Buy the best bedding you can for the most luxurious results. 

How to Soften Linen Bedding With Vinegar

Add “fabric softener” to the endless list of vinegar’s uses. Vinegar softens linen, prevents static, deodorizes, brightens, and tackles soap buildup. However, frequently adding vinegar to your washing machine can damage rubber parts, so be cautious with this method.

Here’s how to soften linen sheets with vinegar:

  1. Load washing machine with linen bedding.
  2. Add a mild detergent.
  3. Turn the machine on using the gentle cycle. 
  4. Add ½ cup white vinegar to the fabric softener tray right before the final rinse cycle.
  5. Optional: Add a few drops of essential oils to the vinegar for lightly scented bedding.

You can also soak your linen bedding with vinegar:

  1. Combine one cup white vinegar with one gallon of water.
  2. Submerge your bedding in the solution and let it sit overnight.
  3. Wash as usual. 

Always use white vinegar. Apple cider, balsamic, or red wine varieties can stain your textiles. 

How to Soften Linen Bedding With Baking Soda

Laundering linen with baking soda (not powder!) naturally softens the garment without compromising the quality. There are two ways to use baking soda as a fabric softener.

Try the pre-soak method:

  1. Dissolve one cup of baking soda in one gallon of water.
  2. Submerge your linen bedding in the solution.
  3. Let soak overnight.
  4. Wash the garment as usual. 

Use baking soda in the washing machine:

  1. Load machine with your linen bedding.
  2. Add a mild detergent and ½ cup baking soda to the washing machine.
  3. Run your machine on the gentle cycle.

How to Soften Linen With Dryer Balls

Dryer balls are a staple in any sustainable household, but did you know they can help soften your linen too? Available in materials like wool and rubber, dryer balls prevent garments from clinging together in the machine, which can also help reduce drying time. 

Beyond that, dryer balls circulate in the machine, striking your bedding repeatedly. This process may sound harmful to your linen bedding, but it’s not. It softens them. Beating the fibers in this way allows them to relax and grow oh-so-cozy. 

Swap out dryer sheets for a few dryer balls, and enjoy smoother sheets. 

How to Soften Linen With Regular Washing

Practice makes perfect, right? That theory stays true for linen: repeated washing is an age-old method for softening your bedding. 

Of course, this technique is best for patient people as your sheets will smooth out with each wash, not immediately. Still, if you don’t want to experiment with any laundry additives, this is the way to go. 

Washing Linen Bedding The Right Way

 

Always check the manufacturer’s instructions to learn how to wash linen bedding safely. Still, there are some general best practices:

  1. Pre-treat any stains.
  2. Place linen bedding in your washing machine. Be sure to separate your garments carefully — don’t leave them balled up.
  3. Add a mild detergent. The fewer chemical additives, the better.
  4. Turn your machine on to the gentle cycle.
  5. Remove bedding immediately after the process is complete to prevent creases and mildew.
  6. Machine dry your linen with minimal heat or hang up to air dry. 
  7. If machine drying, remove the bedding while still slightly damp. Let it air dry the rest of the way to avoid stiff sheets.

New linen often “sheds” during the first few washes. This is normal and occurs because it’s a natural fiber. It’s temporary!

Can You Buy Pre-Softened Linen?

What if you want buttery-soft linen bedding ready for immediate use? Can you buy pre-softened linen? 

You sure can! 

Or & Zon’s stonewashed linen bedding collection features perfectly smooth sheet sets, duvet covers, and pillowcases. The secret? We really do wash them with stones to achieve the best possible texture and appearance. No prep work needed. And don’t worry about linen’s notorious shrinkage either: our pre-washed bedding is already at its final size. 

Best Tips to Care for Linen Sheets

Linen is an ideal bedding material for many folks. It only gets better with each wash, can last for decades, and is incredibly breathable. Still, proper care is vital to help your linen perform at its best. Consider these care tips to preserve your linen sheets:

  • Skip fabric softeners and other chemicals. Fabric softeners and harsh detergents can leave a residue on linen bedding, causing them to stiffen. It can also weaken the fibers. So, opt for natural substitutes instead. And since linen softens with use, fabric softeners aren’t necessary. 
  • Watch for shrinkage. Linen is notorious for shrinking. Avoid an “oh-no!” moment when you go to make your bed by air drying your linen, machine drying on low temperatures, or buying pre-shrunken bedding. 
  • Avoid laundering linen bedding at high temperatures. High heat and linen never pair well together. It’s not just about shrinkage, either. Hot cycles are harmful to the fibers and can compromise their strength. 
  • Wash linens weekly. What better motivation to wash your bedding weekly than knowing it’ll grow softer? For cleanliness’ sake, you should try to clean your sheets frequently anyways. Linen may be more breathable than other fabrics, but it still traps sweat and other grime. 
  • In the washing machine, less is more. Be careful not to overload your washing machine. It’s always better to do multiple loads than end up with some uncleaned pieces (which you’ll have to wash again anyway). A crowded machine also prevents detergent from rinsing away entirely, leading to a stiffer feeling fabric. Oh, and less is more with the detergent itself for the same reason. 

Final Thoughts on How to Soften Linen Sheets

Now that you know how to soften linen with baking soda, vinegar, dryer balls, and frequent washing, you’ll never have to ask, “Does linen bedding get softer?” ever again. Your linen sheets will prove that it’s possible! Then continue using proper care techniques to bask in your super soft linen sheets for decades to come.


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