How to Wash a Linen Dress: Step-by-Step Guide for Proper Care

Linen dresses are a staple in many wardrobes, celebrated for their durability and timeless elegance. This natural fabric, made from the flax plant, is breathable, lightweight, and highly resilient, making it a favorite for casual and formal wear. 

However, proper care is essential to maintaining the beauty and longevity of linen dresses. This guide will teach you how to wash a linen dress, dry, iron, and remove possible stains to ensure it remains pristine for many years.

Why Linen Dresses Require Special Care

Linen is prized for its exceptional breathability and moisture-wicking properties, making linen dresses perfect for sunny days. The fabric allows air to flow and moisture to evaporate quickly, ensuring you stay cool and comfortable.

However, linen is prone to shrinkage if not handled correctly, especially when exposed to heat during washing and drying. It also wrinkles easily due to its natural stiffness and lower elasticity than other fibers, giving linen its characteristic textured appearance.

To keep linen from wrinkling and preserve its quality for years to come, it's crucial to treat it with special care. 

How to Wash a Linen Dress: Step-by-Step Instructions

Here is our guide on how to wash a linen dress properly:

Read the care label

The first step in washing a linen dress is to read the care label and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Familiarize yourself with common laundry symbols, as they're like secret codes that unlock the best care for your clothes. Look for any specific advice, such as avoiding bleach, which can weaken linen fibers and cause discoloration.

Based on label instructions, you may proceed to hand wash or machine wash your linen dress. 

Hand washing

Use cool to lukewarm water to prevent shrinkage and maintain fiber integrity. Remember to choose a mild detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics, as harsh detergents can damage linen fibers. 

Washing steps:

  • Fill a basin with cool to lukewarm water and add a small amount of mild detergent.
  • Submerge the linen dress gently and swish it around softly to allow the detergent to penetrate the fabric.
  • Rinse thoroughly with cool water until all soap residue is removed.
  • Carefully press out excess water; do not wring, as this can distort the fabric.

Machine washing

Machine washing your linen dress can be really convenient, but only possible if the care label indicates that it's safe to do so. 

Start by putting the dress into a mesh laundry bag to protect it from snags and tangles. Select a gentle cycle and a cool or lukewarm temperature, and remember to use a mild detergent. Skip the fabric softener to keep those delicate linen fibers in top shape. Once the wash cycle is done, promptly take out the dress to prevent excessive wrinkling. 

Drying and Ironing a Linen Dress

Caring for a linen dress involves more than just knowing how to wash linen. Proper drying and ironing techniques are essential to preserve its quality and keep it looking fabulous. 

When it comes to drying your linen dress, there are a few methods available:

  1. Air drying: Air drying allows the linen dress to dry gradually, minimizing stress on the fibers and helping to retain its shape and texture. By laying the dress flat, air drying prevents the fabric from stretching, which can occur when hanging wet linen garments. This method is particularly gentle on delicate or embellished linen dresses, reducing the risk of damage.
  2. Hanging: Hanging linen dresses allows air to circulate around the garment, promoting even drying and reducing the likelihood of mildew or odors. When executed properly, it can help minimize wrinkles, especially if the garment is smoothed out before hanging. Hanging linen dresses is convenient and space-saving, especially if you have limited drying space or need to dry multiple garments simultaneously.
  3. Tumble drying: A tumble dryer can be a convenient option, only if the care label gives the green light. Opt for a low heat setting to safeguard the delicate fibers of the fabric. Timing is everything here—make sure to retrieve your dress from the dryer while it still retains a hint of dampness. Overdrying can lead to shrinking and the linen fibers losing their vitality, potentially causing premature wear and tear. 
  4. Steam ironing: Steam ironing or using a garment steamer efficiently dries and removes wrinkles from linen fabric without the need for excessive heat, which can damage the fibers. Steam ironing can be used to spot-treat stubborn wrinkles or refresh the entire garment, providing versatility in wrinkle removal. 

Ironing a linen dress requires finesse and attention to detail to ensure a pristine finish that lets the fabric's natural beauty shine. Follow these steps for optimal results: 

  1. Before you begin, ensure your linen dress is slightly damp. Ironing damp linen facilitates the smoothing process, making it easier to remove wrinkles and creases.
  2. Set your iron to the linen setting, typically denoted by a high heat level. Linen is a robust fabric that can withstand high temperatures, but avoiding excessive heat that could scorch or damage the fibers is essential. Always err on caution and test a small, inconspicuous area first, especially if you're uncertain about the fabric's tolerance to heat.
  3. When ironing, work on the wrong side of the fabric whenever possible. This minimizes the risk of leaving shiny marks on the garment's surface, ensuring a professional and polished appearance. If you must iron on the right, use a pressing cloth as a protective barrier between the iron and the fabric. 

How to Remove Stains from a Linen Dress

Linen dresses can be susceptible to various stains, such as food, wine, and sweat. Follow these tips to effectively remove them: 

Food stains: Apply a mixture of water and mild detergent, then rinse.

Wine stains: Blot with cold water immediately, then apply a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and dish soap if the stain persists.

Sweat stains: Soak the area in a mixture of water and vinegar before washing normally.

Always test your stain removal solution on an inconspicuous area of the dress to ensure it doesn't affect the fabric's color or texture.


Knowing how to wash, dry, iron, and remove stains from your linen dress properly will not only keep it looking fabulous but also help you make a sustainable fashion choice. So, follow our guidelines and maintain the pristine condition of your linen garments. And remember, a well-cared-for linen dress is a staple for any wardrobe!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does linen shrink in the wash?

Linen can shrink in the wash, especially if it is not pre-shrunk. To minimize shrinkage, it's best to wash linen in cold water and avoid high heat when drying.

How often should you wash linen clothes?

Linen clothes don't need to be washed as often as other fabrics. You can wear linen multiple times before washing, as long as it's not visibly soiled or stained.

Should you wash linen labeled "dry clean only"?

If the linen garment is labeled as "dry clean only," it's best to follow the care instructions to avoid damaging the fabric. You may successfully hand-wash it using a mild detergent for delicate fabrics, but it is not recommended. 

Can you bleach linen?

You can bleach white linen, but it's essential to dilute it properly and to avoid using bleach on colored or printed linen as it may cause discoloration.
Back to blog