Does Linen Shrink in The Dryer: Tips To Prevent Shrinkage

Linen, known for its lightweight and breathable quality, is a popular choice for many when it comes to clothing and bedding.

However, the delicate nature of linen can sometimes lead to shrinkage. In this article, we will give you what causes linen to shrink, and a detailed guide to fix it.

What Causes Linen to Shrink?

Linen, a natural fabric made from the flax plant’s fibers, has some unique traits. One key trait is that it tends to shrink when it comes into contact with heat and moisture.

This shrinkage happens mainly due to the way flax fibers are built. They’re made of cellulose, a type of polymer. When these fibers meet heat and water, they can soak up this moisture. This makes the cellulose molecules get closer, causing this fabric to shrink.

The shrinking process can be sped up during washing and drying, especially if done the wrong way. Using hot water to wash or high-heat settings from the dryer to dry your items can make the fibers contract a lot more. Also, harsh cleaning methods like strong scrubbing or wringing can put extra strain on the fibers, causing even more shrinkage.

Linen clothes

Can Linen Shrink in The Dryer

Is it true that this fabric can shrink in the dryer? Of course, many of us have experienced first-hand how linen can shrink if dried at high temperatures!

The most reliable way to dry this fabric without causing it to shrink is by hanging it up to air dry or using a low-tumble setting in your dryer. Heat, in general, has the potential to shrink, so to keep your linen from contracting, it’s recommended to stay clear of all heated settings on your dryer.

How To Prevent Linen From Shrinking: A Step-by-Step Guide

Preventing it from shrinking starts with understanding the proper way to care for it. Here’s a simple guide:

Step 1: Preparation

Proper care for this fabric begins before you even think of getting it wet. The first thing you need to do is check the care label attached to your item. This label carries vital information about how to treat the fabric properly. If the label indicates ‘dry clean only,’ don’t attempt to wash it at home. Take it to a professional dry cleaner instead. This step is crucial in maintaining the integrity and size of your item.

Step 2: Washing procedure

If your linen can be washed, it’s time to get started. Though it is tough and needs gentle handling to keep its shape and color.

Your best choice is always to wash your items by hand. Avoid hot water – it’s the main reason its shrinks. Instead, fill a sink or a basin with lukewarm or cold water and add a soft, bleach-free soap. Additionally, carefully, avoid using strong soaps or bleach. Because these can harm these fibers and make your items lose their color.

Put your linen piece in the soapy water and gently move it around. This helps the soap get into the fabric and push out any dirt. Be sure not to scrub or twist your fabric too hard, as that can hurt the fibers and make the linen shrink. After that, renal your items well under cool water until all the soap is gone.

If you have to use a washing machine, use the gentle or delicate setting, and put your items in a laundry bag to keep them safe. But remember, machine washing should be your last option and should only be used for tougher linen items. Because machines can be harsher on your items than hand washing.

 Wash your items by hand

Step 3: Drying process

Drying is as important as washing when it comes to stopping your linen from shrinking. If you wring out your items to remove excess water, this can harm the fibers and make them lose their shape.

Instead, after you’ve washed your linen, softly squeeze or press out the water. You can also use a clean, dry towel to soak up the extra moisture. The key here is not to twist or wring; you should gently press the water out, not force it out.

Once you’ve got rid of the extra water, lay your items flat on a clean, dry towel or hang them to dry in a place away from direct sunlight. Because sunlight can fade and make it hot, causing it to shrink. Also, don’t use a tumble dryer, as the high heat can make your linen shrink a lot and damage the fabric.

By taking care and following these steps, you can keep your favorite items from shrinking, helping them look and feel great for many years.

Can You Fix Linen That Has Shrunk?

Fortunately, it’s often possible to unshrink linen to some extent.

Unshrinking linen clothes

If you’ve found that a linen shirt, pants, or dress has gotten smaller, here’s the best method to rescue your item:

  • Wash your linen garment again: Start by washing your linen piece again, following the care instructions on the label.
  • Air dry the garment: Hang the garment to dry until it’s damp, not soaking wet.
  • Iron out the wrinkles: Next, lay your garment on an ironing board that’s covered with a towel. Start ironing at low heat, moving from the middle of the garment outward.

Ironing in this manner will slowly restretch the fibers in a way that doesn’t harm them. You might not be able to get the garment back to its exact original size, but you’ll be able to make the shrinkage a lot less noticeable.

Iron out the wrinkles

Tips for Preventing Linen Shrinkage

It’s crucial to take the right steps to prevent your items from shrinking:

  • Stick to the care label instructions: The care label on your linen item has important instructions that will help maintain its size and quality. Don’t overlook it – follow each suggestion carefully.
  • Clean gently: When washing your linen, use a mild, bleach-free detergent and lukewarm or cold water. This gentle method will protect the fibers of your item and help maintain its size.
  • Consider professional cleaning: If your item is valuable or has a complex design, it might be best to leave the cleaning to the professionals.
  • Avoid high heat: High heat is the main cause of shrinkage. Whether you’re washing or drying, make sure to use low temperatures.
  • Store safely: Store them in a cool, dry place, and make sure it’s fully dry before storing them to prevent mildew. If possible, avoid folding linen to minimize creases and stress on the fabric. If you must fold, try to fold along the seams of the item and avoid placing heavy items on top of stored items to prevent creasing.


Managing linen shrinkage is more straightforward than it might seem. By following the right procedures and treating your linen with care, you can keep its form and condition intact for a long time.

So, just need confidence in the knowledge that with a bit of mindful care, their durability is well within your hands.


  1. Can I iron linen to prevent shrinkage?

    Ironing linen can help it maintain its shape and reduce wrinkles, but it won't prevent shrinkage. Shrinkage usually happens due to washing and drying in the heat. However, ironing should be done on damp linen with a medium-hot iron.

  2. Does linen shrink more than cotton?

    Both linen and cotton are prone to shrinkage, especially when exposed to heat and moisture. However, linen can shrink more than cotton, particularly during the first wash.

  3. Can I restore color to my faded linen items?

    The color fading situation is usually due to exposure to sunlight or harsh detergents. While it's challenging to restore the color of faded items, using a fabric dye can be a potential solution. It's crucial to follow the instructions carefully when using dyes.