Learn how to soften linen by yourself with items you already have at home.

In this blog, we will share 4 proven methods for softening linen that are simple, non-invasive and inexpensive. You will be left with linen clothing that feels heavenly on the skin.

Let’s get into it and create your own makeshift laboratory at home where you will conduct your experiments. There will be no explosions, only soft linen. (fingers crossed).

What is the softest linen?

There is a rumour that we have to clear up. Linen clothing is not rough.

Yes, this luxury textile has a unique texture. Yes, cotton feels softer than linen, but it should not irritate the skin. Are your linens scratchy? This can be due to the fabric batch. 

The finest linen comes from Western Europe. A region that sets the standard for excellence and quality. This linen is different from the others, and it all comes down to one thing. Its long fibres, that are beautifully spun into a seamless fabric.

Linen can feel scratchy due to the fabric batch, but this doesn't mean it's of low quality. Linen is a natural and flexible fabric that can be softened. Explore our blog below for how to soften linen.

How to soften linen

As if you need any more reasons to bring out your favourite linen pieces, here is another. The more you wear linen, the softer and more luxurious feeling it will become.

This blog will look at 4 different methods for softening your linens. We suggest trying out the first method as it is the least invasive. Then, work your way down if you do not get the desired softness from the washing method.

  1. Wash your linens (and then wash them some more)
  2. Iron your linens
  3. Use white vinegar
  4. Use baking soda

Before setting off on your DIY journey, here are just a few words of caution. Consider us the mum who asks you about your passport right before you are about to head to the airport for a fabulous holiday.

If adding baking soda or white vinegar to your washing machine, make sure to test it out on an old piece of linen clothing first. To see how your particular brand will react. It is better to be extra cautious than have regrets later.

Finally, these methods below work just as well if you would like to soften linen sheets and tablecloths as they do for all manner of linen clothing, be it linen pants, shirts and dresses.

4 methods for softening linen 

1. Wash your linen clothing (and repeat x100)

Same as Miss Hepburn or Grace Kelly, linen is a classic beauty that continues to get better with age. Like a fine wine or a rich French cheese, as the years clock by, this natural textile gains more personality and a softer texture to almost grow with its wearer. Is anyone else hungry now? 

The magic of linen is that the more you wash it and wear it, the softer it becomes. Sounds like the perfect A+ fabric, does it also do its own laundry? 

Unlike fast fashion items, which can only be donned a handful of times before they fall apart at the seams, linen is ultra-durable. It will be in your collection for years to come, brought out for a sunny day or a garden party, not locked away in the closet.

So, how to soften linen? There is no complicated, winding essay that follows this question. It is easy to soften linen clothing and bedsheets, for that matter. Simply wash it and use it. Then, repeat this step.

To guarantee your linens stay in top condition, wash them on a gentle machine cycle and then air dry them. For a more in-depth look at how to wash linen, read our blog. There, you will find a failsafe step-by-step process to wash linen with perfect results every time. 

2. Iron your linens

You do not have to be a fabric-softening scientist to nail this next method. If you know how to iron linen, you will have success. 

Killing two goals with one iron? Sign us up. As well as gifting you with crisp-looking linen tops, ironing will soften the flax fibres in the linen fabric. Giving you a smoother, softer texture. 

Make sure to lightly spritz your clothing with water before ironing. Then, use a pressing cloth on top for extra delicate pieces. Discover our blog on how to iron linen for all the tips and tricks so you can take the best care of your favourite pieces.

3. Add white vinegar

Linen is all about easy wear, so naturally softening it is also simple and comes without any headaches. All you will need is white vinegar. After wearing and washing your linens, this is the next gentlest method.

Hold up. We know vinegar as the tangy ingredient in salt & vinegar chips. A guilty pleasure. And as the wellness shot, hailed everywhere for its healing properties. But fabric softening? Yes.  

Why is white vinegar a natural fabric softener? It helps remove any trapped detergent, sweat and oils in the fabric. We suggest adding half a cup of white vinegar to your washing machine’s final rinse cycle. Still, use your detergent as normal.

For those with a sensitive nose, do not worry. The scent of vinegar completely dissipates in the washing cycle. You will only be left with clean and odourless linen dresses.

4. Use baking soda

You do not have to travel far to find the secret ingredient for softening your linens. This is the most effective method discovered so far. Head into the kitchen pantry for some baking soda, a naturally occurring mineral. And a much healthier alternative to synthetic fabric softeners.

As much as its name may suggest otherwise, baking soda is not just for baking. Thanks to its alkaline properties, baking soda is a natural fabric softener for all kinds of textiles.

How does it work? Baking soda helps to soften water, eliminating calcium build-up which can cause your clothing to be stiff. It acts like Goldilocks, making sure the water is not too acidic or alkaline but just right. Adding it to your washing machine will ensure any detergent or mineral residues do not end up in your clothing.

There are a few different ways to use baking soda. We recommend adding half a cup of baking soda to your regular washing cycle. Before adding, make sure it is fully dissolved in a little water. Opt to forego any detergent. Use only baking soda. Then wash as normal, and be wowed by the results.

Should you use both baking soda and white vinegar?

Only use baking soda or white vinegar in your washing cycle. Not both at the same time. Otherwise, their effects will cancel each other out, and you will be left without any results.

Baking soda is slightly alkaline, while vinegar is acidic. So combining the two leads to a neutral concoction that will not soften your linens at all.

It can be tempting to try to double quantities, etc., to get a faster outcome, but it can cause irreparable damage to your linen. So best, to go gently and slowly when doing any DIY jobs.

Conclusion: How To Soften Linen Clothing

There is some misleading information swirling around about linen. That it feels scratchy on the skin and nothing can be done about it. While it is one of the most textured natural fabrics on offer (and that is why we love it), it should feel like a joy to wear. If that is not the case, we have ways to soften them.

Either way, linen gives you the option to personalise its textures to your own tastes and needs. Whatever the quality of the fabric, you can always choose to soften it. Below are the 4 methods of how to soften linen that we talk about in our blog. As a bonus, you can do all these at home without special ingredients or equipment. 

  1. Wash your linen. The fabric notoriously gets even better with age and time. Regular washing and wearing of linen will give you a softer texture. You do not have to do anything out of the ordinary.
  1. Iron your linens. You will likely iron your linen pieces anyway. As well as getting a smoother finish, it will also loosen up the flax fibres in the textile, resulting in a softer texture.
  1. Use white vinegar. After washing, this is the gentlest method. Add a ½ cup of white vinegar to the final rinse cycle of your washing machine. You can use washing machine powder as normal.
  1. Use baking soda. Add ½ cup of baking soda to your washing machine. Do not use any washing powder. Next, wash your linens as usual. Repeat if you have to a few more times to achieve your desired levels of softness.