Summer’s favorite fabric may be easy to wear, but the upkeep can be another story. Experts share how to give linen some TLC.

By Mary Honkus
Updated: May 23, 2019
gap.com

One of our favorite warm weather pieces is an airy linen dress. Linen is one of the most popular summer fabrics because it’s known for being light and breathable, but many people don’t know how to care for linen properly. Made from the flax plant, linen fibers are strong and durable, and have special properties to help regulate body temperature so you can stay comfortable, even in hot, sticky weather.

With a little TLC, your warm weather staple can last for years to come. Keep reading for tips on how to buy, care for, and repair your linen dress.

How to Buy a Linen Dress

Shop now. Many linen pieces hit the stores in late spring or early summer, so you’ll have a wider selection to choose from.

Check the tag. Pure linen has a more relaxed, natural feel, while linen blends are less likely to wrinkle. A cotton-linen blend is softer and best for sensitive skin.

Consider a color. If you’re worried about stains, a colored linen dress is harder to ruin (think: when you’re sitting on grass or a dirty seat). While white and cream are classic linen colors, green and brown are popular this season.

How to Care for a Linen Dress

Use cold water. Always check the tag before washing. Most linen items should be washed on a cold setting. If it’s not overly soiled, you can skip washing and just use a steamer to freshen up your dress.

Remove early. Going through a full cycle in the dryer isn’t ideal for linen, because it may crease. Toss it in for 10 minutes on low, and then hang to dry; the garment will feel softer.

Iron inside out. This helps prevent shine and maintain the imperfect texture. Place a cloth between the garment and the iron to avoid burns. Iron while the dress is still slightly damp to remove stubborn crinkles.

How to Repair a Linen Dress

Erase summer’s trickiest messes with these tips from Becky Rapinchuk.

Grassstains: Turn the dress inside out and apply a drop of dish soap to the stained area. Gently dab the spot with a damp cotton cloth until the stain lifts from the fabric. Rinse immediately under the sink with cold water. Hang to dry.

Underarm residue: Turn the dress inside out, dampen the area, and sprinkle a pinch of oxygen whitener onto the spot. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. Work the solution into the area with a wet clothing brush. Rinse, hand-wash with a mild detergent, and hang to dry.

Shiny iron spot: Turn the dress inside out, place a thin cloth on the spot to protect it from burns, and iron to get rid of the shiny patch.

Our Experts

  • Inka Apter, head of fabric development at Eileen Fisher
  • Shelley Liebsch, senior vice president and chief merchandising officer at J.Jill
  • Marissa McDonald, brand stylist at Eileen Fisher
  • Becky Rapinchuk, founder of cleanmama.net
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