Does Linen Shrink? How To Unshrink Linen Fabric?

Yes, linen has the unfortunate potential to shrink when exposed to moisture and high temperature. Linen is a natural fabric similar to cotton made from flax plants so it has a higher tendency to shrink. 

This fabric is one of the most luxurious fabrics mostly used for clothing items. It is soft, breathable, and absorbs moisture. That’s why it is used for clothing in summer.

The shrinkage in linen fabric can vary from one to another depending on the quality of the fabric, construction, and the weave of the fabric.

People most often ask, does linen shrink over time? The answer is no. Linen doesn’t shrink over time on its own. It shrinks due to improper washing and drying of the fabric.

Why Does Linen Shrink?

Linen is a woven fabric made from flax fibers. During the construction process, the flax fibers stretch, causing the fabric to shrink when exposed to moisture and high temperature.

When linen fabric gets wet the individual fibers get swell, causing the fabric to shrink. Additionally, heat can further increase shrinking of the fabric by increasing the rate of molecular movement of the fibers.

To avoid excessive shrinkage, gently wash the fabric with cold water. Avoid using hot water. Additionally, air drying is often preferred to reduce the risk of shrinkage in the linen.

How Much Does Linen Shrink?

Linen is a comfortable and breathable fabric made from flax fibers. The shrinkage may vary depending on the care instructions as well as fabric constructions. 

Even though linen shrinks a bit less than cotton, it certainly can shrink when washed with hot water and harsh detergents.

The linen fabric typically shrinks about 4-5% but if not properly cared for while washing and drying it may shrink more than 10%.

But don’t lose hope. We will help you to unshrink your linen clothings. Make sure to avoid hot water, a high temperature dryer, and hot ironing of the fabric.

Does Linen Shrink In The Dryer?

Yes, Linen shrinks in the dryer when dried at a high temperature. People most often ask how to prevent linen from shrinking in the dryer? The best answer is use no heat or choose the lowest heat option on the machine while drying the linen fabrics.

Keep in mind even if you use low heat settings on the machine, prevent the fabric from over drying as it can cause shrinkage. Remove your fabric as soon as it is dry enough to touch.

Also, remember that if your fabric has shrunk even after drying  in the dryer, it can be challenging to unshrink the fabric. However, some techniques such as using steam iron or gently stretching the fabric while damp, may help to reduce shrinkage to an extent in the fabric.

Does Linen Shrink When Washed? 

Yes, linen fabric shrinks when washed because of its moisture absorbing capability. It does shrink when it absorbs moisture. When linen fabric is washed with hot water, the shrinkage is more than using cold water.

Make sure to use cold water while washing, as it reduces the chance of shrinkage. Hot water or hot temperature enhance shrinkage in the linen.

If you want to reduce the chance of shrinkage, you must hand wash your fabric or you must wash linen using cold water in a gentle cycle.

Overwashing may also cause shrinkage so make sure to wash the fabric for less time. Also, prevent using harsh detergents while washing.

Does Linen Shrink In Cold Water?

No,linen doesn’t typically shrink when washed with cold water. But it does shrink when washed with hot water. Make sure to follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. 

This is a natural fabric made from flax plants, and is known for its durability to withstand various washing conditions. But make sure to use lukewarm or cold water while washing. Also, use low heat while drying the fabric in the machine.

Different types of linens may have slightly different qualities, so it’s recommended to follow the care instructions provided with your garments for proper use.

Does 100 Linen Shrink? 

Yes, 100% pure linen fabric shrinks when washed or dried without proper care. The amount of shrinkage can vary depending on various factors such as the weave of the fabric, the constructions, and the quality of the fabrics.

High-quality linen fabrics undergo a pre-shrinking process during the manufacturing process, which minimizes the amount of shrinkage after washing and drying the fabric.

Despite the quality, you must prevent excessive washing of the fabric, using hot water, hot temperature, and harsh detergents. The best way to prevent shrinkage is to follow the precautions properly provided with the garments.

Does Linen Shrink In Length or Width?

The linen garments have the tendency to shrink more in length than width. This means after washing and drying, you will see the length of the linen fabric become shorter while there will be negligible change in the width of the fabric.

However, the amount of shrinkage in length or width depends on the quality of the fabric. Also, keep in mind that pre-washed linen fabrics are less likely to shrink as compared to 100% pure linen garments.

How To Prevent Linen From Shrinking?

The first thing you can do to prevent linen from shrinking is to choose high quality pre-washed linen garments. Pre-washed linen fabrics have less tendency to shrink as it is pre-shrunk to an extent. However, there is still some chance of shrinkage so you must follow these tips to prevent your linen garments from shrinking:

  1. Care Instructions: The very first thing I would love to suggest to you is to read down the care instructions provided with the clothings. Also, implement the following guides while washing and drying the linen fabrics.
  1. Cold or Lukewarm Water: To reduce shrinkage, it’s generally suggested to use cold or lukewarm water while washing the fabric. Avoid using hot water, as high temperatures can cause shrinkage.
  1. Wash at Gentle Cycle: Handwashing is the most preferable way to clean linen fabrics. However, if you must wash the fabric in the washing machine, select the gentle cycle as it reduces friction which prevents shrinkage.
  1. Avoid High Temperature: After washing the linen fabric, make sure to dry up with low heat settings in the dryer. If possible then air-drying can be the best way to dry up the linen fabric. Simply, hang up the fabric into an open place so that the blowing air can absorb the moisture from the linen fabric.
  1. Air-drying: Air-drying is the best way to dry linen properly as it can reduce the potential to shrink. Hang the linen garments on a clothesline in an open place. Make sure to avoid direct sunlight exposure on the fabric. However, if you must have to use a dryer, make use of low heat settings as it can prevent linen from shrinking.
  1. Low-heat Ironing: Ironing linen fabrics with low heat settings can remove wrinkles to an extent. Avoid using high heat temperature while ironing, as it can cause shrinkage.
  1. Storage: It is better to have a separate storage place to keep the linen garments. Additionally, keep the linen garments in a cold and dry place. Avoid direct exposure of sunlight on the fabrics.

How To Unshrink Linen Fabrics?

Unshrinking the linen fabric is a challenging process but if you follow the guides below properly then you can unshrink the fabric to an extent. Make sure to follow the guides properly as it can work to some extent.

  1. Lukewarm or Cold Water: Fill a basin with lukewarm or cold water. Submerge the linen fabrics for about 30 minutes as it helps relax the fabric. It may be less effective but can help a bit to restore the garments to its original shape.
  1. Gently Stretching: Once you’ve soaked the linen fabric properly, gently stretch the fabric while it is wet as it can take away the water from the garment. 
  1. Roll The Fabric In Towel: After stretching out the linen fabric, roll it in a towel and gently squeeze to remove excess water. Avoid twisting the fabric as it can damage the fibers of the fabric.
  1. Air-drying: Now, hang out the shrunken linen fabric on the clothesline. The blowing air will absorb the excess moisture and can help relax the fibers to its original shape and positions. You can even hang the shrunken linen fabric to a steamy bathroom as it also helps to relax the fibers.

Does Linen Shrink More Than Cotton?

Cotton and linen are both natural fibers mostly used in clothing items. When it comes to shrinkage both fabrics behave differently due to their manufacturing processes.

Linen shrinks less than cotton. This is because linen fabrics are less prone to shrinkage when exposed to moisture and high temperatures. On the other hand, linen fibers have less elasticity so they are less likely to shrink significantly.

However, linen can still have shrinkage to an extent if it has not been pre-washed properly during the manufacturing process. But you can prevent shrinkage in both natural fibers if you follow the care instructions provided with the garments properly.


In conclusion, linen is a natural fiber made that has a tendency to shrink if not washed with proper care. Make sure to follow the proper guides to prevent linen from shrinking.

The best proper care instructions include washing linen fabrics with cold water, avoiding high in the dryer, avoiding harsh detergents, avoiding over-stretching or twisting, and more.

Hope, now you understand well to maintain your linen clothing to last for a long period of time.

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Hey there, I am Sam, I have used several sewing machines in my life, so now I decided to open a blog so that I can help other people finding the best sewing machine out there in the market according to my experience & research.

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