Does Linen Shrink In The Dryer? Linen Drying Guide

can put linen in the dryer

Linen is one of the softest, most breathable, and premium fabrics out there. When you go out for that year’s first summer shopping spree, you are searching for linen office shirts. And that’s not it. This fabric is also famous for its bedding and blankets. While buying this high-quality material, you might wonder, “How do I take care of my linens?” or “Can I put linen in the dryer”? Let’s just start by saying that linens are easier to take care of than you are led to believe. But there is always a care guide for every fabric that should be followed. It helps enhance the longevity of your items. 

In this guide, we will tell you how to prevent this material from shrinking and does linen shrink in the dryer.

Can Linen Go In The Dryer: Yes or No?

Linen is a soft and natural fabric that does not demand a lot of your attention. So, can you put linen in the dryer? The answer is yes. You can put all your pure linen bed sheets, duvets, linen dresses and blankets in the dryer. But before you do that, let’s take care of the washing method as well.

If you want those breathable linen bed sheets to not succumb to an untimely death, make sure to follow these washing instructions. They will give you the best method of cleaning and drying the products and maintain their durability.

Throw those linens into the drying machine and switch the temperature to low. Intense heat on this fabric can lead to premature damage and shrinkage. So, those favourite linen sheets of yours will not be the same. There is a chance that the bed sheets will look worse than ever.

“Don’t worry about the creasy effect on the linen sheets; they give an earthy touch to your bedding”

Difference Between Pre-washed and Non-pre-washed Linen

Pre and non-pre-washed linens differ in the treatment they undergo before using. This practice can affect the overall appearance, texture, and shrinking ability of the fabric.

Pre-washed: These linens are washed before being sold or used. The process involves rinsing the garment with cold water and mild detergent. It helps –

  • Soften the fabric
  • Minimise shrinkage
  • Remove excess dye and impurities
  • Relaxed and cool finish

Non-pre-washed: The linens have not been pre-washed before use. This means there might be some leftover cleaning agents or chemicals. It leads to –

  • Effect on stiffness and texture
  • Prone to shrinkage
  • Rough and stiff finish

Read More: Is Linen Scratchy? How To Soften Linen Quickly?

Importance of Checking Care Labels

It is important to take note of any care instructions attached to the garment. This helps in –

  • Proper Care: Specific washing, drying, and ironing instructions are often provided with clothes. They ensure that you follow the necessary steps to care for your linens.
  • Eliminating Damage: Linens are soft and delicate. This means you have to be specific about the kind of care and maintenance routine to follow. Care labels help do the same and prevent any damage to your clothing.
  • Texture Preservation: Linens have a specific texture and require gentle care. Care labels guide you on how to maintain your fabrics and maintain that texture and finish.
  • Minimum Shrinkage: Linens can shrink when exposed to high heat. The instructions explain how to minimise the shrinkage. This helps maintain the clothes structure for a long time.

Types of Dryers & Their Linen Compatibility

Dryers have been in our homes for years. But did you know that fabrics react to various dryers differently? Talking about the linens in dryer, you have to be sure that the one at home is compatible with the said fabric.

Tumble dryers are available in 3 types –

  • Vented Dryer: This dryer exudes immense heat outside your house. It effectively wicks away moisture and prevents wrinkles, making it a great choice for linens. However, a vented dryer is only suitable for homes with a proper ventilation system.
  • Condenser Dryer: This dryer does not depend on external ventilation. It collects the released moisture into a fitted container. You have to empty the container after every drying cycle. So, a condenser dryer is suitable for linens, but the process and manual work are more here.
  • Heat Pump Dryer:  This is an energy-efficient choice for drying linens. There is a heat exchanger that wicks away moisture and keeps your linens fresh. A heat pump dryer takes the longest, but the results are worth it. Your linen sheets will stay soft and warm after every drying cycle.

Read More: Does Linen Wrinkle Easily – How To Prevent Linen From Wrinkling?

Does Linen Shrink in the Dryer?

A linen in dryer does not shrink that easily if you take care of the washing instructions. Linen fibres are natural and can contract when subjected to high temperatures and agitation, causing the fabric to shrink. To minimize shrinkage, it’s advisable to follow care instructions provided by the manufacturer and avoid using high heat settings when drying linen items. Additionally, air drying or using low-heat settings can help preserve the quality and size of linen fabrics.

If you don’t follow the right care instructions, you can expect a normal shrinkage of 3 to 5% with the first spin. Remember, the heat temperature is the key to your linen washing game!

Why Linen Can Shrink When Exposed to High Heat

Linen is exposed to shrinkage if exposed to intense heat due to –

  • Natural Fibre Formation: Linen naturally contrasts and turns denser due to consistent moisture and heat. This leads to undesired shrinkage at early stages.
  • Tight Weave:  The linen’s weaves are loose and lead to shrinkage. This is because there is more space between the fabric for contraction.
  • Water Absorption: When linen is exposed to heat, the moisture within the fabric wicks away and leads to contraction. This quickly shrinks the fabric.
  • Stiffness: Linens turn stiff when in contact with excess heat. This leads to the natural fibres contracting and shrinking.

Factors Influencing Linen Shrinkage

Linen is prone to shrinkage, and there are several factors affecting the same –

  • Heat Setting: If your linen wear is exposed to high temperatures, shrinkage is given. Make sure that you adjust the heat settings to normal so that the material does not contract and stays the same.
  • Wash Cycle:  Sometimes, we feel that prolonged soaking or frequent wash cycles will keep our linens in check. But that’s a far cry. These practices can easily weaken the fabric and bring them closer to the shrinkage. Make sure you are choosing a delicate wash cycle setting to keep the quality intact for a long time.
  • Fabric Quality:  The quality of the linen you purchase matters. If you are investing in high-quality linen sheets, they will stay away from shrinkage and distortion for much longer.
  • Pre-treatment: Some linen manufacturers pre-treat the sheets to prevent shrinkage. It involves mercerisation – a technique that stabilises the fabric and minimises shrinkage even after continuous washing and drying.

Linen Drying Instructions

A lot of people wonder if they can dry clean their linens. A simple answer is NO. You don’t have to go through that much trouble. A basic tumble or air dry will work wonders for your bedsheets. You can choose any of the methods to suit your convenience. But here is a basic guide that works for everyone. 

Can You Machine Dry Linen? 

Yes. Just put the linen in your machine and tumble dry at a low temperature. This will prevent shrinkage and keep the fabric quality intact. When it is a little damp, remove the sheets from the dryer and hang them to dry. But is air drying a better alternative? Yes, It not only turns out to be a cost-effective method but also gives a smooth and naturally fresh feeling to your items.

“Remember to shake your clothing before line-drying or air-drying. This will prevent stiffness, if any.”

Now that we are talking about drying, let us have a look at what safety measures we can take to keep the linens intact.

How To Dry Linens Safely

By taking appropriate measures and using the right tips, you can always take care of your linens.

  • Ideal Temperature Settings: Temperature setting plays the most important role in keeping the linens in their true form. Keep the drying temperature between low and medium, as linen cannot withstand excessive heat.
  • Use Dryer Balls: Dryer balls are small wool or rubber items put into the dryer. They keep your linens fluff and separate from other fabrics during drying. Here is why you need them.
  • Dryer balls do not let the fabrics clump. This promotes better drying and air circulation.
  • The balls create breathing space between your linen sheets. This reduces the drying time so that hot air can move effectively.
  • They soften the linens by agitating them during the drying process. If you are using dryer balls, there is no need for fabric softeners.

Methods for Pre-shrinking Linen Before Drying

Pre-shrinking linen before drying is a practical approach to mitigate excessive shrinkage and maintain the fabric’s desired size. Here are the methods to pre-shrink before throwing the linen in dryer –

  • Machine Wash
    • Use cold water and wash the linen in a gentle cycle setting.
    • Once washed, tumble dry it on low heat till the fabric is a little damp.
    • Remove it and lay it flat to air dry.
  • Hand Wash
    • Put your clothes in a bucket filled with cold water.
    • Use a mild detergent and keep it soaked for 15 to 30 minutes.
    • Rinse and remove excess water.
    • Air dry the linen.
  • Steam
    • Hang the linen on a hanger.
    • Fill your steamer with water.
    • Steam the garment thoroughly.
    • Leave it to air dry.

Why Invest in Linen Wear and Textile?

While going through the entire process, you might come to wonder, “Do I even need linens”?Linen is expensive and Investing in linen wear and textiles offers unmatched comfort and sustainability. Linen wear, known for its breathability and durability, keeps you cool in warm climates. Its versatility extends to bedding, towels, and home textiles, elevating your living spaces with natural elegance. Linen’s eco-friendly production, derived from flax plants, aligns with sustainable living. Moreover, its hypoallergenic and antibacterial properties cater to sensitive skin, ensuring health and freshness. Embrace the timeless appeal of linen wear and textiles for enduring style and conscientious living.

Buy Oeko-Tex Certified Linen


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