Does Linen Fabric Shrink When Washed or Dried?

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Ever had the perfect linen dress you love only to find it a size or two smaller after its first wash? Yes, it is more comment than you actually think. That leads us to an age-old question: Does linen fabric shrink? Though it may seem like an easy answer, the truth is that it depends on the type of linen fabric you’re talking about. That’s why I have put together this post all about different types of linen and how they react when washed, dried, or stored.

Linen does shrink when put in a washer or dryer. Linen basically gets shrunk with heat whether you are washing it or putting it in a dryer. I meant washing in hot water, it will shrink the linen definitely. Generally, Linen will shrink about 3-4% on its first wash, and you can wash it in cold water (normal tap water), and let it dry without putting it in the dryer and direct sunlight, to decrease its shrinking rate. As Linen shrinks 3-4% at its first wash on average and in some rare cases could shrink up to 10%, so always wash your fabric before sewing because alteration may happen if you stitch your fabric and wash it after that.

Linen fabric shrinkage is a phenomenon that has been discussed for many years. Many people wonder if the fabric shrinks or how much it shrinks. This article will address these questions and provide an in-depth analysis of linen fabric shrinkage.

What Is Linen Made Of?

I will start off with Linen sheets, as that’s the almost in everyday use of everyone. Linen sheets are made from a natural material called flax, which is harvested from mature flax plants. In the process of harvesting this material, harvested flax is bleached (removing all of the natural pigment) and then processed into linen.

Flax, a natural plant grown on the North American continent. Flax can also be grown in other regions but it is most common in the central United States and Canada. Flax plants are harvested very early in the day when they are just starting to bloom, rather than at full bloom.

Linen fabric feels like a soft, thick, natural fiber material with a strong but flexible yarn. Its heavy-weight material as compared to fine cotton and approximately 30% stronger, as it is made from flax plants rather than cotton plants. It is considered the most durable natural fiber available. It’s absorbent and breathable, like cotton but doesn’t retain moisture like cotton does when wet or damp.

Linen is made up of long, narrow threads with strands woven together to create a fabric. There are two types of linen: undyed or pure; and dyed or 100% bleached.

Undyed linen is the more common type of linen fabric. It is made of natural flax fibers without any processing. It’s not bleached, and the coloration comes from dyeing. When undyed linen fabric is first made, it is a natural green color with tones of brown to tan. It can be treated with chemicals or a solvent to get it to turn white.

The second type of linen is dyed linen. This is typically made from 100% bleached flax, so it is white if the material hasn’t been colored yet. After the material has been made into a garment, the manufacturer can dye it any color they want. Dyeing is done by soaking the linen for a period of time in a dye bath and then rinsing it in cold water to stop the process.

Does Linen Fabric Shrink?

Linen fabric shrinkage is a common question. Like most natural fibers, linen fabric shrinks. If you are purchasing a piece of pure linen or undyed linen, it is advisable to wash it before you use it because it will shrink in the first wash.

Both undyed and dyed linen have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to washing. Undyed linen will shrink slightly in the initial wash. It’s advisable to wash undyed linen before you use it, especially if you are using it for bedding. Since undyed linen is less sturdy than dyed linen, it is more prone to shrinking and breaking during a first wash.

Linen fabric wash is very easy and the material is naturally resistant to stains so that is not much of an issue either. However, for optimal results, wash your linen in cold water and be sure not to use any hot water settings on your washer or dryer. The heat can cause more shrinking as well as damage the material because of discoloration (that some people might mistake as fading).

Does Linen Fabric Shrink When Washed?

does washing shrink the fabric
Washing the fabric

Linen fabric shrinks when washed, depending on the type of material you start with (firm vs soft). The best way to avoid linen fabric shrink when washed is to use a front-loading washing machine or at least wash your laundry in cold or warm water and don’t use hot water settings and never use chlorine bleach.

Linen fabric shrinks when washed, which is an unavoidable part of using any natural fiber material. It is especially important to avoid using any hot water settings on your washer or dryer because this can cause more shrinkage and damage the material.

Does Linen Fabric Shrink When Dried?

drying fabric shrink
Drying the fabric

Linen fabric shrink when dried is something that most people don’t think about. If you are drying your linen, either in a clothes dryer or on a line outside, it is important to keep the linen away from direct heat. Too much heat will damage the material and can cause serious issues including discoloration and shrinking.

If you are drying the linen outside, try to use a line that is protected from the wind because the breeze will help prevent any shrinkage during drying. If you do need to use a clothes dryer, set it on low and make sure to only use cold or warm settings for the best results.

How Does All Linen Shrink?

All linen products shrink in the same way: The threads grow when wet and shrink when dry, which causes changes in the size of that particular product. This is a natural process that all natural fiber products go through during use, especially linen material.

The woven threads in linen break and retract, causing the size of the fabric to change. This is caused by increased sensitivity to water and moisture, which causes the fiber to make more cross-links with each other. As they break, they create a bond that causes the fabric to become shorter. 

Some examples of materials that shrink when wet and dry are linen towels. They will shrink significantly more than Linen sheets as the towels will shrink based on their thread count. The higher the thread count, the less it will shrink.

However, the best way to avoid a lot of extra work in case of shrinking Linen fabric it best to is to measure carefully and allow for a room for error. If you are using a pattern that does not list any specific recommendations, increase your linen fabric’s seam allowance by at least an additional 1/4″ all around. This should give you plenty of room to work with in case if you needed the fabric to fix the shrinking linen.

How Much Does Linen Fabric Shrink?

Linen fabric shrinks 3-4% in length, which is slightly more than cotton fabric as cotton on average only shrinks 2%-3% and some cases 5%, how ever Linen fabric can shrink up to 10% in some rare cases. In addition to size, linen also shrinks up to 2-3%″ in width. This can cause some problems if you are sewing a pattern or designing a project that requires precise measurements.

The best solution is to either use a natural fiber material other than linen or left some extra fabric on sides during cutting the pattern. In order to avoid any shrinkage issues and have the perfect fit every time, consider using a ready-made garment that is already the size you need when making clothing items like shirts or pants.

Linen fabric shrink will depend on the type of linen fabric you have. 

Due to the natural fibers in linen, some pieces can actually shrink less than others. You should always use a seam gauge to measure your knit or woven linens and fabrics before beginning, as it is not easy to accurately guess how much a piece will shrink. Depending on whether you are knitting or weaving the item.

Does Linen Shrinks In Length Or Width?

Linen can shrink in both length and width depending on the pattern of the fabric and how threads are woven. Linen fabrics are not stretchy and have a tendency to shrink along the width. On average, the linen fabric could shrink 3-4% in length and 2-3% in width depending on multiple factors like the type of fabric you choose, how it is woven, the thickness of the fabric, etc. That’s why it’s advisable to pre-wash linen fabrics before using them as the linen usually only shrinks on its first wash and if you take proper care of your garments then it is possible it will not shrink anymore. For example, Linen fabric is like any other natural fiber and it tends to shrink when washed in hot water. So, never put it in hot water instead use lukewarm water to prevent shrinking the fabric. After all, we don’t want our favorite dress to end up a size too small, and I certainly do not.

How Much Does Linen Fabric Shrink When Washed?

Linen fabric shrinks when washed is a pain. There are a few things you can do to prevent further shrinking and help your linen last as long as possible. The first thing you should do is wash the linen before you use it, even if it’s pre-washed.

Washing the linen after it has been made into a piece of clothing helps to “set” the fibers so that they don’t continue to shrink any further with each washing. You might notice that the first time your new item is washed, there will be very little shrinkage and no puckering or wrinkling at all. However, after several washings, you’ll probably notice some noticeable shrinking which you can deal with by taking good care of your linens.

Does Linen Shrink As Much As Cotton?

Linen fabric shrink is slightly less than cotton fabric, but it does shrink and does change size over time. On average the Linen can shrink 2-3%, and in some rare cases up to 10% however the cotton only shrink 2% on average and in extreme conditions only up to 5%. However, Linen fabric shrink is also dependent on the type of linen you are using, the length and composition of the fibers that make up the material.

There is a difference between natural fibers and man-made fibers. Natural fiber clothes don’t shrink as much when they are washed, but they are not as crisp and they aren’t quite as smooth if you compare them to 100% cotton fabric.

If you want perfectly crisp and smooth linen, then you will need to use a blend of man-made fibers. These blends still shrink about the same amount as 100% cotton fabric. You can predict how much your linen will shrink by measuring your material before you start washing. Keep in mind that the more natural fibers, the less likely it will shrink too much. If it’s mostly cotton, it’s going to be a small percentage of natural fiber and your project is more likely to shrink than one with a higher amount of natural fiber.

How Do You Keep Linen From Shrinking?

It’s important to keep your linens dry, away from any direct heat sources, and as clean as possible.

One of the best ways to prevent a lot of shrinkages is to wash and iron your linen before use. If you don’t want it to shrink too much, you can wash it the same day you make it into a garment or accessory. You can also add a dose of starch to the linen before washing if this is important for you.

Linen is quite sensitive when it comes to heat and moisture so be sure that you don’t use any hot water settings on your washer or dryer when using this type of fabric. The linen will shrink if it is washed in hot water and will fade faster as well. It is best to wash Linen in lukewarm water. Linen is best washed on cool settings in the washer and dried on a low setting in the dryer.

Best Ways to Maintain Linen Fabric Care 


You should always wash your linen before you wear it or use it, especially if it is pre-washed. You should also wash your linen after every single time you wear or use it to keep the natural oils that have rubbed off of your body during use as fresh as possible. 

This helps prevent some of the pillings, fading, and wear that can happen over time. Also, you should always dry your linen in a cool or warm setting in the dryer. Linen shrinks more than cotton and can be damaged when it gets too hot.  


It is best to dry your linen on low heat settings because it is going to shrink a lot when you do so. As mentioned above, this can make your project look wrinkled and uneven if you don’t take care of it properly. It is best to hang it up after drying to get the most out of your garment and for it to look great.

Keep it Clean

You should wash your linen at least once after every wear. This helps keep the natural oils that have spread out across your body when you use the garment as fresh as possible and can help prevent color fading and anything else that might happen due to exposure over time. 

However, you should also be aware that when you wash your linen, it is going to shrink a bit. You can help prevent this by making sure you dry your linen on low heat and by avoiding hot water settings when washing.

Does 100% Linen Shrink In Wash?

Yes, 100% linen fabric will shrink in the wash. However, you can prevent this by pre washing the linen before you using it. In addition, it is advisable to not putting 100% Linen fabric into a hot dryer. It is best to hang your garment up to dry, out of direct sunlight, to keep it from fading.

It is also important to note that different types of material shrink at different rates. Some fabrics are very delicate while others aren’t prone to shrinking at all. It is best to wash your linens a couple of times before you use them, and then you should be fine. However, if they do shrink while washing and drying, don’t panic! Just keep it in mind when you make your garments next time so you can prevent shrinking.

Can I Use A Dryer For Linen Fabric?

Some people use the dryer for linen items, and if you have a machine that doesn’t have any issues with shrinking or pilling you might be able to get away with using it. Heavier linens like towels and sheets will probably only shrink in the dryer, so you don’t want to use this method on items that shrink too much.

You should be careful about using the dryer for your linens, because drying will cause the color to fade slightly, and the fibers of your linen will shrink more than other fabric types.

You could also use a special “shop-dry” method, which involves hanging the linens to dry and not putting them in any type of cooling apparatus. This method uses no heat at all and protects your colors while gently removing water. Dry cleaning can also be used on your linen fabrics but it is much more expensive than regular washing.

Do You Iron Linen?

Ironing linen can be tricky and you should be careful. First of all, you need to make sure that your iron is not too hot or it could cause a fire hazard. If you want to iron an item made from linen then it is a good idea to test your iron on a corner of the fabric first. This is because, even though the item will not shrink further, the fibers of the fabric will permanently change when put through high heat and this makes them more likely to wrinkle over time.

You should also try not to wrinkle the linen into the iron, and you should use a light touch when ironing it. This is especially true if the item is made from 100% linen fabric, as this will prevent any further shrinkage or puckering.

If you want to iron your linen items, you should use a pressing cloth or template and cover them with a thin layer of cloth that covers all of the fabric but provides room for heat and steam to pass through. Using small pieces of cotton fabric is best because they have a nice weight without adding too much bulk.

There are special pressing paints which can be used instead of pressing sheets, these are placed on top of your ironing board while using them.

Can I Wash Linen In The Washing Machine?

You should be able to wash linen fabric in the washing machine, just like you would any other piece of clothing. You will want to wash the linen in cold water or use the cold or warm setting on your washer.

Using hot water might not only make your laundry shrink more but it can also cause the colors in some linens to fade and become discolored over time.

Depending on how much shrinkage you get during a laundering cycle, you may need to iron the item after it has been washed (or dry cleaned).

Can You Fix Shrunken Linen?

It is possible to repair shrunken linen, but there are some things you need to keep in mind. First of all, if the piece shrank significantly then it will probably be beyond the point when you can use tape or pins and begin sewing the piece back together again. You will have to replace some of your fabric depending on how much.

If your linen has shrunk in the washing machine then you can iron a new crease down the item. This is usually only possible if the fabric is 100% linen, and it will help to prevent further wrinkling and puckering.

This process should be done with a very light touch as you do not want to add any more wrinkles or shrinkage to the fabric.

You can use this method on any 100% linen fabric that has been washed and shrunk, which will allow you to maintain a nice shape without letting it get too worn out over time.

FAQ About Does Linen Fabric Shrink

What Can I Do To Prevent Linen From Shrinking?

The best way to prevent linen from shrinking is to make sure that it is washed out of the dryer as soon as possible after washing. I have found that overnight drying can cause the fabric to become stiff and brittle and prone to pilling. If you launder your linen in a machine, I recommend taking it out as soon as it is finished to prevent this from happening.

Why Do I Get Pilling In My Linen?

Pilling is a result of the fibers rubbing together after being washed several times. The pilling will actually help to protect the garment from damage if it is done appropriately and followed by washing in cool water and drying it on a low heat setting.

Why Is Linen So Wrinkly?

Linen will maintain its ability to easily hold and wrinkle while it is being woven by the loom, but once it is taken from the loom and cut into pieces, then it becomes a lot less flexible. The tissues of the fibers begin to shrink and lose some of their bounce and stickiness, causing them to tighten up over time. This can be caused by various factors including poor care. However, if you treat your linens properly then you should be able to avoid any issues with wrinkling or shrinkage.

How Much Does Linen Shrink?

On average the linen fabrics shrink 2-3% when washed in warm water. However, it’s advisable to pre-wash the fabric before sewing. But in some rare cases, if linen fabric is not prewashed then it can shrink up to 10%.

Is It True That Linen Would Not shrink If Washed In Lukewarm Water?

I have asked some places that sell linen fabric and they say the majority of linen fabrics will not shrink if washed in lukewarm water, on the other hand it is better to wash it in lukewarm then in hot or cold water. There are many different types of linen fabrics on the market, and some of them will shrink when you wash them in hot or warm water. But most of the fabrics already come pre-shrunken from their suppliers to the stores. That’s why they will not shrink, however, it is advisable not to experiment with your favorite shirt.

Does Linen Shrink In Cold Water?

No, linen does not shrink in cold water usually. If you want to wash linen in cold water then you can do so without much worry. However, the color might run and fade over time. To prevent linen fabrics from shrinking in the first place, it’s advisable to not put them in the washing machine on delicate cycles. It’s also advisable to use a gentle detergent and cold water when washing linen. If you want to freeze your linen items then you should be careful as it can cause them to shrink as well. To really prevent any further shrinkage of your linen, you should pre-wash the item before using it elsewhere

Can Linen Fabrics Shrink In The Dryer?

Yes, many people do use conventional laundry dryers for drying their linen garments, but it might cause to shrink your linen fabric. However, it is advisable to never put custom-tailored linens in a commercial dryer (wholly). The heat might cause the fabric to shrink even more than usual. It’s advisable to always pre-soak your linens, wash them with a gentle cycle and avoid using full-power drying. If you really feel like using a dryer then set it on the tumble dryer and take it out before it has some moisture in the fabric and is not fully dry. This will reduce shrinking significantly.

Final Thoughts

Linen fabric shrink is one of those topics that happens in practically every aspect of life, and it can become a major cause of frustration, irritation, and stress if you do not know how to deal with it.

I’m sure that a lot of you are wondering what causes linen fabric to shrink and how to avoid it. That’s exactly why I have decided to write this article on how to keep your linens from shrinking when washing, drying and wearing.


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I have been working as a seamstress since I was 12 years old, and I would be happy to teach you what I know. I, along with the rest of my team, investigate numerous sewing, quilting, embroidery, and fabric related how-to guides, and present our findings to you.

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