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How to Soften Linen Sheets: Make Your New Sheets Comfortable

Linen sheets are highly regarded for their durability and breathability, but when they are brand new, they can feel a bit stiff. However, with a little care and patience, you can soften your linen sheets to achieve a new level of comfort and luxury. In this blog post, we will share practical tips and tricks to help you make your linen sheets soft, supple, and even more enjoyable to sleep on. Let's explore how you can enhance the natural qualities of your linen sheets and create a cozy haven for your slumber. If you don't own that type of bedding yet, check out our article on what do linen bed sheets feel like.

Wash and Dry

The first step in softening your linen sheets is to give them a thorough wash. Before using them for the first time, machine wash your linen sheets using a gentle or delicate cycle and a mild detergent. This initial wash helps to remove any starches or stiffening agents used during the manufacturing process. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the natural fibers of the linen. Once washed, tumble dry the sheets on a low heat setting or hang them to air dry. This combination of washing and drying helps to break down the stiffness and initiate the softening process. See our complete guide on how to wash linen sheets.

Fabric Softener

Another method to soften linen sheets is by using a fabric softener (but choose one that will not weaken the fibers). Fabric softeners can enhance the texture of your linen sheets and expedite the softening process. Opt for a natural, eco-friendly fabric softener and add a small amount to the fabric softener dispenser or use a fabric softener ball during the rinse cycle. Be cautious not to overload the sheets with softener, as it can leave a residue that affects their absorbency. If you prefer to avoid traditional fabric softeners, there are natural alternatives you can explore (see below).

Repeat Washing and Drying

To further soften your favorite linen duvet cover, consider repeating the washing and drying process several times. Linen fibers tend to become softer with each wash. So, by laundering your sheets multiple times before use, you can accelerate the softening process. After each cycle, pay attention to the texture and feel of the sheets. You will notice a gradual improvement as the fibers break down and become more supple. Remember to follow the washing and drying instructions specific to your linen sheets to ensure optimal results.

Line Drying

If you have the option, line drying your linen sheets (and linen napkins) can contribute to their softness. Hanging them outdoors in the sunlight allows the natural elements to work their magic on the fabric. The fresh air and gentle breeze aid in softening the fibers and provide a pleasant, outdoor scent. However, keep in mind that prolonged exposure to direct sunlight may cause fading, so it's best to remove the sheets from the line once they are dry. Line drying is an excellent alternative to machine drying, especially if you live in a climate that permits outdoor drying year-round.

Fabric Softener Alternatives

If you prefer to avoid traditional fabric softeners or want to explore additional options, there are natural alternatives to consider. One effective method is adding a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. The acidity of vinegar helps break down any residue or stiffness in the fabric, resulting in softer linen sheets. Don't worry about the vinegar scent; it dissipates during the rinse and drying process, leaving no trace behind. Another alternative is using wool dryer balls during the drying process. These balls help to fluff and separate the linen fibers, reducing stiffness and promoting softness. Additionally, you can try using natural fabric softener sheets made from plant-based materials. These sheets release natural oils that soften the fabric without the need for chemicals. Experiment with different alternatives to find the method that works best for your preferences.

Natural Fabric Softening Techniques

In addition to traditional methods, there are natural fabric softening techniques you can explore. One option is adding a small amount of baking soda to the wash cycle. Baking soda helps to soften the water and acts as a natural fabric softener. Another technique is soaking your linen sheets in a mixture of water and fabric softener before washing. This pre-soaking method allows the fabric softener to penetrate the fibers and promote softness. Additionally, some people find that using dryer balls made from 100% natural wool or placing a clean tennis ball in the dryer with the sheets can help to fluff and soften the linen. These natural techniques provide an alternative to chemical-based softening agents and are worth trying if you prefer a more organic approach.


Soft, luxurious linen sheets can transform your sleep experience, and with the right care, you can achieve a level of softness that rivals even the finest cotton. By following these tips and techniques, including washing and drying, using fabric softeners or alternatives, line drying, and exploring natural fabric softening methods, you can enjoy the ultimate comfort and indulgence of your linen sheets. Remember, each sheet may have its unique characteristics, so it's essential to experiment and find the methods that work best for your specific linen sheets. With a little time and patience, you'll be rewarded with wonderfully soft and inviting bedding that ensures a restful night's sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does linen bedding take to soften?

The softness of linen bedding increases with each wash and use. Generally, it takes a few weeks of regular use and laundering for linen sheets to reach their maximum softness. However, the exact time may vary depending on the specific linen fabric and your preferences.

Why is linen so scratchy?

Linen fabric can feel scratchy when it is brand new due to the presence of natural plant fibers and its initial stiffness. However, with proper care and repeated washing, linen becomes softer and more comfortable over time.

Can you soak linen sheets?

Yes, you can soak linen sheets. Pre-soaking linen sheets in a mixture of water and fabric softener before washing can help soften the fibers and promote a softer feel.

Does vinegar soften linen sheets?

Yes, vinegar can help soften linen sheets. Adding a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle can break down stiffness and residue in the fabric, resulting in softer linen sheets.

Should linen sheets be washed in cold water?

It is generally recommended to wash linen sheets in cool or lukewarm water. Hot water can cause shrinkage and damage to the fabric, so it's best to avoid high temperatures.

Should linen sheets be ironed?

Ironing linen sheets is a personal preference. Some people prefer the crisp look of ironed linen, while others enjoy the natural, slightly wrinkled appearance. If you prefer a smoother look, ironing your linen sheets while they are still slightly damp can help achieve that effect.

How often should you wash linen sheets?

Linen sheets should be washed regularly to maintain cleanliness and freshness. As a general guideline, washing them every 1-2 weeks is recommended. However, you can adjust the frequency based on personal preference and how frequently you use the sheets.

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