The line on linen.
What’s the correct way to care for linen? I like the pressed look of my linen shorts, but I also heard that having creases can wear out the fabric. What’s your take?—Michael, Birmingham, AL
Linen is an interesting fabric. In fact, it’s considered by many to be the original fabric. It was mentioned in the Bible, and was what the Egyptians were wearing when they built the pyramids. But if they knew how to keep it from creasing, that secret, along with how they learned pyramid construction, has been lost in the mists of time. Like cotton, wrinkles and creases are a part of linen’s charm so to speak.
But to get to your question, yes, the creases arise because the fibers in the fabric are stiff and, once creased, they stay that way. This will eventually cause the fabric to wear out. There are some things you can do to ensure your shorts last a long, long time, however. Of course, the first thing is to read and follow the manufacturer’s label pertaining to care. Beyond that, we would suggest not tossing them in the dryer. The heat can damage the fibers. Lie them flat when drying. A steamer can also be used to help relax any wrinkles.
To get the “pressed” look you like, we would recommend ironing them, but only when the fabric is still wet. A hot iron used first on the inside of the fabric and then the outside will help you get the look you want. Also, when you store them, be sure they’re laid flat and not folded. Other than these tips, you can also try becoming proficient in reading hieroglyphs. Maybe the secret to crease-free linen is on a dusty tablet in a museum somewhere.
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