With a minimum amount of proper care, the natural beauty of linen is easily maintained. Linen is the strongest natural fibre known to man, and of all textile fibres is the one which washes best. Irish Linen often becomes a family heirloom as it wears extremely well and is able to maintain its special qualities throughout its long life. The more linen is washed the softer and more luminous it becomes. Provided a few simple rules are followed, linen will remain in pristine condition for years, through normal household use.
Linen increases in strength when wet, which is why it stands up to the rough and tumble of repeated laundering so well. Commercial soap powders and liquid detergents can be safely used but as with all other textiles, always test for colour fastness. Avoid detergents which contain Optical Brightening Agents (O.B.A.) as they may cause colours to alter slightly and will detract from the appearance of the subtle white linen damask pattern. O.B.A. is particularly damaging to natural unbleached linens. For one option of an OBA free detergent click here.
Please avoid using bleach as a cleansing agent. This is any natural fibres worst enemy. Misuse can significantly degrade and weaken the fibres. Be careful in choosing your laundry, as poor laundries may cut corners by using bleach in too high a concentration as a cheap and easy way to help whiten the linen.
Due to its sheen and smooth surface, linen releases stains easily, although it is advisable to work on very stubborn stains before washing.
The following washing cycles can be used:
- White linen articles without special finishes may be washed at 95°
- Linen without special finishes, were colours are fast at 60°C. (For 1 and 2 above 50° wash is usually effective).
- Linen were colours are fast at 40°C but not at 60°C should be washed at 40°.
- Fine hand-embroidered linen needs to be treated with care and should be hand washed or machine washed at 40°.
Never tumble-dry linen as this can over-dry the fibres and makes ironing more difficult. Linen naturally dries quickly anyway. So spin and line dry.
Always iron linen when damp, first on the wrong side to eliminate creases and then on the right side if you wish to enhance the fabric's natural sheen. There is no need to use starch except perhaps for the finest linens, for linen has built-in crispness. If the linen has already dried out before ironing, use a water spray to re-dampen it. A good steam iron will work best on linen.
Remember you do not have to save Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen for 'Best'. Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen can take any amount of washing and keep coming up for more. They thrive on regular use and regular laundering.
Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen is naturally mothproof safely stored under normal conditions. Slatted shelves will allow air to circulate. Avoid cupboards with heating pipes running through them or cedar linen chests, as these can discolour linen. If by mischance it does become discoloured, wash as soon as possible and dry in the sun to whiten again. Whenever possible, store linen articles without folding. Linen tablecloths store best rolled.
For information on stain removal please read the following article.
"No perfumes, but very fine linen, plenty of it, and country washing" Beau Brummell