Caring for your Luxury Linens

Caring for Fine Linens Involves Just a Few Simple Rules

Always read the care labels and information cards that come with the product and defer to them if it differs from this.

It is highly recommended that you:

a) Pre-wash all linens before use, and
b) Wash linens separately from anything else, particularly items that contain any polyester. Polyester can pill, and will shed its pilling on natural fibers, reducing the smoothness and softness of the fabric. Garments with buttons or zippers can damage delicate linens in the wash. Select a gentle laundry detergent, such as Le Blanc Linen Wash. Products with whiteners are not recommended on colored linens, as they may progressively fade the colors.

Consider the longstanding French tradition to insure the longevity of bedding: rotate your sheets, with a set in the closet, a set on the bed, and a set in the wash. This insures that no one set receives more wear than another.

A Word of Caution: certain skin and hair products that contain oxidizing agents (e.g., lotions used for acne) may cause discoloration of sheets and towels.


Shrinkage will occur with all linens made of natural fibers, the amount of shrinkage ranging from 4 to 10 percent, depending on the fibers used. The sizing of many of our products allows for expected shrinkage. Linens washed in hot water or dried at hot temperatures will shrink excessively. Pre-shrunk items, such as Jacquard-woven table linens or honeycomb towels, normally shrink 3 percent or less. Generally, very large pieces of fabric or very high thread count linens are not pre-shrunk.

Washing bedding

Linens should be separated into light or dark colors. Avoid overloading the machine to prevent breaking long fibers like those in Egyptian cotton. Whether cotton, pure linen, or a cotton/linen blend, bedding should be washed in warm water or cool water, using a gentle laundering agent, with a final cold rinse. If pre-soaking is necessary, it should be in cold water.
Allow your washing machine to fill up and begin agitating before you add detergent or bleach. Unless your linens are extremely soiled, use half the commercial detergent recommended; this will reduce damage to fibers and clean your linens just as well.
Remove washed bedding promptly from the machine; this helps reduce wrinkling on your sheets & bedding. Shaking damp linens out before drying (at low heat) will also reduce wrinkles and quicken the drying time.

Washing bath linens

Terry Towels:Washing terry towels before use begins the "breaking in" process, making them softer and more absorbent. Several washings may be required for 100% cotton terry towels to achieve their maximum absorbency, softness and fluff. Some brands, such as Abyss, are prewashed so they are very absorbant from the beginning.

Honeycomb Towels:These lightweight, waffle weave towels are loosely woven for absorbency, dry very quickly, and have been pre-shrunk. White honeycomb items with colored borders typically may be bleached safely to keep their brightness.

Launder towels in warm water and a gentle detergent, such as Le Blanc Towel Wash. It is particularly important with towels that you not use fabric softener, since it decreases the absorbency of the towel.

Washing table linens

Table linens should be washed in warm water and gentle detergent, with a final cold rinse. Bleach may be used, which brightens the linens. Fabric softeners are not recommended, since they decrease absorbency and impart a fragrance that can be disconcerting.
Remove table linens promptly from the wash, and shake out to help minimize wrinkles before drying.

Please note: Beautiful as they are, tea towels are meant to be used hard-in the kitchen, great for drying dishes and crystal, but also ideal for wiping up spills.

How to Dry

Line drying linens is ideal, leaving linens nearly wrinkle-free and smelling fresh, but using your dryer with the proper settings will bring about satisfactory results, leaving linens relatively wrinkle-free and soft.

Do not over-dry your linens by using a dryer setting that's too hot. Set your dryer on permanent press, which has a cool down cycle at the end that helps reduce wrinkles. Most dryers have an air cycle that simply air-tumbles its contents without any heat. This is also a good method for drying linens.
Remove your linens promptly to reduce wrinkling. Smooth them out, finger pressing details like flanges on pillow shams, borders on flat sheets, edges of tablecloths or napkins. Then fold carefully.

How to Iron

Washing and drying your linens properly will eliminate many wrinkles. But fine linens made of natural fibers do wrinkle, particularly when new. As they become older and softer, you will find that they wrinkle less.

For both bedding and table linens, using a good steam iron will make ironing easier. Avoid using spray starch, which has a tendency to adhere to the surface of the iron, and may also attract silverfish to the stored linens. If you wish to iron your linens, the following guidelines are recommended.


Iron your bed linens while they are still damp. If the piece is embroidered, ironing on the reverse side will prevent damage to the embroidery. Refer to the sewn-in label with the universal symbols for the appropriate setting for your iron.

Table linens

Table linens should be ironed while damp. Interestingly, ironing Jacquard-woven table linens will enhance the pattern by increasing the three-dimensional appearance inherent in the Jacquard-woven technique.

Storing Linens


If you plan on storing your linens, iron them before you store them.
Store linens flat; if the shelves are wooden, line them with tissue paper; some woods, such as cedar, contain oils that can damage linens.
Make certain that linens are not exposed to direct sunlight or moonlight to avoid color fading.
Do not leave table linens on your table where they may be exposed to direct sunlight over an extended period of time.

Care of Down Products

Always use a duvet cover to protect your duvet and keep it clean. Use pillow protectors on down pillows, and wash the protectors regularly. A mattress protector over a featherbed is strongly recommended.
Duvets, pillows and featherbeds should be fluffed daily to maintain the loft and fullness of the down.
If soiled or stained, duvets and pillows can be spot cleaned with a damp cloth and mild soap.
If featherbeds or silk duvets become soiled, dry clean only.
For cleaning down duvets and pillows, we recommend laundering rather than dry cleaning. Laundering rejuvenates the lofting quality of down, making duvets and pillows full, fluffier, and fresh smelling.
You may wash down items in a front loading, extra capacity washer (the kind used by professional laundries) using a mild detergent in warm water. Do not use top loading washing machines or the agitation may damage the delicate cotton cover. Some modest shrinkage or wrinkling may result from washing, but will not be visible once the duvet is in a duvet cover.
Down duvets and pillow love drying in the sun. Spread them out on a sheet on the grass or deck, and shake them vigorously from time to time while drying. Or you may tumble dry in a dryer set on medium heat. Remove every hour and fluff. Placing a few tennis balls in the dryer will facilitate the drying. Be certain your down duvets and pillows are thoroughly dry before returning to the bed or storage. Always store in cotton bags, never in plastic.

Stain Removal

BERRIES AND FRUIT: If the stain is still wet, sprinkle with salt and gentle liquid soap. Let sit for a couple of hours, and rinse well. If the stain is dry, a solution of borax (one part borax to six parts water) may remove the stain. Soak until it has disappeared.

BLOOD: Attend to bloodstains immediately. Rinse well in cold water (never hot-it will permanently set the stain), then try one of the following: a) sprinkle the stain with unflavored meat tenderizer; or b) blot on hydrogen peroxide with a damp cloth, allow to bubble, then wipe with a fresh cloth. Repeat if necessary. For dried bloodstain: soak overnight in cold water and two cups of salt. Wash as usual.

BUTTER OR MARGARINE: Mix one teaspoon of detergent with warm water. Apply to spot and blot. You may need to repeat a few times. Or mix one part white vinegar and two parts water. Saturate the stain and blot until dry. Wash as usual.

CANDLE WAX ON TABLE LINENS: Gently peel away the wax that can easily be removed with your fingernail. If the wax is soft, harden with an ice cube. Place the item between two sheets of brown paper, and press with a warm iron; the remaining wax will be absorbed by the paper. If the wax is colored, wash with a bleaching agent.

COFFEE OR TEA: Apply a borax solution (1 part borax to six parts water) directly to the stain, then wash in warm, soapy water.

GREASE: Do not allow grease stains to set! Sprinkle fresh grease stains with baking soda or cornstarch and leave for a couple of hours until the powder gets thick. Scrape away and repeat the process. Brush off the powder and launder as usual.

GRASS (on tablecloths): Mix one-third cup vinegar and two-thirds cup water. Apply to stain and blot. Or pre-soak in hydrogen peroxide and launder as usual.

LIPSTICK: Scrape off as much as you can with a dull knife. Use a pre-wash spray and rub with a clean white towel. Wash as usual.

MILDEW: Apply white vinegar and lemon juice to kill the mildew. Let the item sit in the sun for a few hours. Wash as usual, but separately.

SCORCH MARKS: Treat the same way as mildew, but drying in the sun is not necessary.

WINE: White wine is easily removed with normal laundering. Red wine stains can be handled two ways: a) rub salt on the stain, and soak in cold water; if the stain is stubborn, rub the salt into it to remove; or b) saturate the stain with club soda until it disappears.

Author Biography

Caring for your Luxury Linens
By Jay Gunter
Jay Gunter is the President of J Brulee Home, located in Tucson, AZ.