How to Care for a Linen Dress

Summer's favorite fabric may be easy to wear, but upkeep is another story. Our experts share how to give linen some TLC.

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An airy linen dress is one of our favorite warm-weather pieces. Light and breathable linen is one of the most popular summer fabrics, but many of us don't know how to care for it 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, this warm weather staple can last for years to come. Keep reading for tips on how to buy, care for, and stain-treat your linen dress.


Timing. For the widest selection, start shopping around late spring or early summer, when many linen pieces hit the stores.

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 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 have risen in popularly lately.

Caring for

Use cold water. With the caveat to 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 has a tendency to crease. To make the garment feel softer, toss it in for 10 minutes on low, and then hang dry.

Iron inside out. This helps prevent shine and maintain linen's imperfect texture. To avoid burns, place a cloth between the garment and the iron. To remove stubborn crinkles, iron while the dress is still slightly damp.

Treating Stains

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

Grass stains - 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, and then hang dry.

Underarm residue - Turn the dress inside out, dampen the area, sprinkle a pinch of oxygen whitener onto the spot, and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Work the solution into the area with a wet clothing brush, rinse, hand-wash with mild detergent, and hang 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
  • Marissa McDonald, brand stylist at Eileen Fisher
  • Shelley Liebsch, senior vice president and chief merchandising officer at J.Jill
  • Becky Rapinchuk, founder of
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