Does Linen Shrink? How To Prevent Your Linen Bed Sheets From Shrinking

Does Linen Shrink? How To Prevent Your Linen Bed Sheets From Shrinking

If you've ever wondered whether linen shrinks and what you can do to keep your favorite linens looking and feeling great, you're in the right place. In this guide, we'll dive deep into the world of linen bed sheets, sharing our expert tips to help you enjoy your linens for years to come.

Table Of Contents

- What is linen?
- Will linen bed sheets shrink?
- Why do linen bed sheets shrink?
- Can you put linen sheets in the dryer?
- How many sizes will linen shrink?
- Can you unshrink linen sheets?
- How to prevent linens from shrinking
- What are the best linen alternatives?

What is linen?

Linen is a natural fiber that comes from the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum). It's one of the oldest and most common fabrics in human history, known for its breathability and durability. What sets linen apart is its unique production process, which involves harvesting flax fibers, spinning them into yarns, and weaving them into fabric.

Linen is highly absorbent and wicks moisture away from the body, making it an ideal choice for bed sheets. This breathability also contributes to linen's anti-bacterial properties, keeping the fabric fresh and hygienic.

In terms of durability, linen is incredibly strong and gets softer with each wash, making it a long-lasting investment for your bedding. Its natural fibers have a textured appearance that gives it a relaxed, casual look.

Will linen bed sheets shrink?

When properly cared for, linen sheets will have minimal shrinkage compared to other fabrics like cotton.

To minimize the chances of shrinkage, make sure to follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. Generally, washing linen bed sheets in cold or lukewarm water and using a gentle wash cycle can help prevent shrinkage. Avoiding high heat during drying or opting for air drying can also help preserve the size and shape of linen sheets.

Additionally, choosing high-quality linen sheets from reputable brands can ensure that the fabric has been pre-shrunk or treated to reduce shrinkage. Investing in well-made linen sheets not only enhances comfort but also extends their lifespan.

Why do linen bed sheets shrink?

Improper washing and drying methods are the main cause of linen shrinkage. Most often, this is exposure to high heat during washing or drying cycles. Hot water and high-temperature drying can cause the fibers in linen to contract, leading to shrinkage.

Another factor that can contribute to linen shrinkage is agitation. Overly vigorous washing or drying cycles can cause the fibers to rub against each other excessively, leading to shrinkage. We suggest using a gentle laundry detergent and avoid overcrowding the washing machine to help minimize agitation.

Keep a close eye on your washer and dryer settings to prevent your linen sheets from shrinking!

Can you put linen sheets in the dryer?

Yes, you can put linen sheets in the dryer, but you must do so with care to prevent shrinkage and maintain the quality of the fabric. Here are some of our tips for properly drying linen sheets:

  1. Use a Low or Medium Heat Setting: Use a low or medium heat setting on your dryer to avoid exposing the linen sheets to high temperatures. High heat can damage the fibers and affect the softness of the fabric.

  2. Remove Promptly: Once the drying cycle is complete, quickly remove the sheets from the dryer to prevent over-drying and minimize wrinkles. Linen tends to dry quickly, so keeping a close eye on the drying process is important!

  3. Consider Air Drying: If you're concerned about shrinkage or prefer a more natural drying method, consider air drying your linen sheets. Hang them on a clothesline or drying rack, away from direct sunlight.

  4. Avoid Overcrowding: Don't overcrowd the dryer with too many linen sheets at once. This can lead to uneven drying and potential wrinkles.

By following these tips, you can safely dry your linen sheets while preserving their quality, softness, and size.

How many sizes will linen shrink?

Linen sheets typically experience minimal shrinkage, between 2-5% in total size. However, some experts claim there have been cases where the fabric has shrunk up to 10%, which is rare and was likely due to the linens being of very poor quality.

This shrinkage is most noticeable after the first few washes, so it’s extremely important to pay close attention to your washer and dryer settings when first cleaning your linen sheets.

Can you unshrink linen sheets?

Unfortunately, once linen sheets have shrunk, it's tough to reverse the damages. However, there are a few methods you can try to potentially regain some of the lost size:

  1. Manual Stretching: Gently stretch the linen sheets while they are damp after washing. Use your hands to pull the fabric in all directions to help loosen the fibers and regain some of the original size.

  2. Steam Ironing: Use a steam iron on a low setting to lightly steam the linen sheets while stretching them. The steam can help relax the fibers, allowing you to stretch the fabric slightly and reduce the shrinkage.

  3. Professional Steaming: Consider taking your linen sheets to a professional cleaner or tailor who may have specialized equipment, such as a steamer, to help restore some of the lost size.

How to prevent linens from shrinking

Preventing linen from shrinking involves more than just adjusting washing and drying temperatures:

Use Gentle Cycles: Opt for gentle washing and drying cycles to minimize agitation, which can lead to shrinkage. Delicate cycles or hand washing are particularly good for this.

Avoid Overloading: Overcrowding the washing machine or dryer can cause the linen to rub against itself. Wash and dry linen items separately to prevent excessive friction.

Choose Quality Linen:
 High-quality linen is less prone to shrinking due to its superior weaving and finishing processes. Invest in reputable brands known for their durable and well-made linen products.

Air Dry Whenever Possible: Air drying linen by hanging it on a clothesline or drying rack can help maintain its size and shape. Avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight to protect the fabric.

Handle with Care: When handling wet linen, avoid any wringing or twisting, as this can distort its shape and contribute to shrinkage. Instead, gently pat or press out excess water.

Follow these preventive measures to reduce the chance of shrinkage and prolong the lifespan of your linens.

What are the best linen alternatives?

We understand that linen bed sheets aren’t for everyone. Here are several alternatives worth checking out:

  1. Cotton: Cotton is a popular alternative to linen, offering softness, breathability, and easy care.

  2. Bamboo: Bamboo fabric is gaining popularity as an eco-friendly alternative to linen. It's incredibly soft, hypoallergenic, and has natural moisture-wicking properties, making it ideal for bedding and clothing, especially for those with sensitive skin.

  3. Microfiber: Microfiber is another popular alternative to linen, as it’s a synthetic material known for its softness and affordability.

  4. Hemp: Hemp fabric is durable, breathable, and environmentally friendly. It's known for its strength and becomes softer with each wash, making it a long-lasting alternative to linen.

  5. Linen-Bamboo Blends: Blending linen with bamboo creates a fabric that combines the best qualities of both materials. The blend offers the breathability and texture of linen with the softness and ease of care of bamboo.

When choosing a linen alternative, consider factors such as breathability, comfort, sustainability, and care requirements to best meet your preferences and needs.


While linen may experience shrinkage if not cared for properly, the benefits of this luxurious fabric far outweigh any potential drawbacks.

At Linens & Hutch, we understand the importance of quality and durability in bedding. That's why our linen products are carefully crafted to withstand the test of time, maintaining their size, softness, and elegance wash after wash.

Whether you're looking for cozy linen sheets, plush duvet covers, or stylish throw blankets, our collection offers a range of options to elevate your sleep experience. Explore our Linens & Hutch collection today to discover the beauty and comfort of premium linen bedding.