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Written by Masha Dinetz


Posted on July 30 2020

In this post I combined different methods of softening linen fabric. I tested them all and tried to make an order in all variety of approaches. Here are my conclusions…

 As someone who deals a lot with linen, I’m always curious about new methods of softening and treating the fabric. The web is full of different recipes, so I decided to test them all and see if there is something behind them. To test it I used non-processed 100% linen fabric of 170 GSM, which is common density used for linen bedding.

  1. Let’s start with one of the most popular methods in the web: softening linen with soda. Some propose to leave the fabric soaked in soda and vinegar overnight and then wash it in cold water. Some add soda during the washing instead of detergent. I tried them both. First soaked overnight and washed and later loaded my washing machine with soda, instead of the regular detergent. The fabric was softened to some extent, but the result did not last, as after next regular washing my linen lost most of the gained softness.
  2. Another popular method is melting cup of salt in hot water and soak the linen overnight. Similar to soda process, but this method use salt instead. The result is similar to washing with soda, but again, it loses softness after regular washing.
  3. I read few more blogs, recommending drying dump fabric outside instead putting in in the dryer. I tried this method but did not notice a difference.

So far all above enzymatic methods worked to some extent, but the result did not last. I also tested some “mechanical” softeners, when mechanical force is applied to soften linen fibers.

  1. Dryer balls are “traditional” mechanical softener, widely used to soften bedding and garments, not just linen bedding, but also one made of cotton or mixed with polyester. And indeed, after using dryer balls my linen was somewhat softened. Not to the extent I would like, but I felt the difference.
  2. I also used tennis balls in my washing machine. I do not suggest using this method frequently, as after all tennis balls put more stress on the machine and can harm it. As bedding fabric is of considerable size, softening linen duvet cover with 3 or 4 tennis balls will end up with mess, as balls will get mixed and covered by fabric and will not make the softening job. Some guys recommended using sneakers instead of tennis balls. Guess what, I tried and found this approach handier than tennis balls, but the result is similar to other methods.

To conclude: all above methods did the job to some extent. Linen fabric felt softer, but usually this effect disappeared after next wash.

But don’t get disappointed. The good news is that the best softener is your own body. Linen is a natural fiber that perfectly absorbs moisture and has unique ability to soften over time. You will notice that after just few sleeps and washes your linen fitted sheet and duvet cover will become softer and nice to touch. As flax is very strong and durable, you will enjoy these qualities for years.

All these methods described are to make linen softer. But if you want to avoid these hardships, you can simply pick already softened linen bedding, like the one here. Stone washed linen, made of the best French flax, is already soft and will not require any additional efforts or compromises from your side. To learn more about linen, follow my other article here.