Caring for fine linens shouldn’t be a chore. If you love to entertain (who doesn’t!) then it’s a necessary household task, but not one that should take hours or involve too many steps. And just as with silver, china, and other possessions of a more lovely nature, linens are meant to be used and enjoyed.
The first question that usually surfaces when it comes to linen care is whether to dry clean. Ironically, it’s not recommended. Dry cleaning is unnecessary, could be damaging in the long run, and most washing machines these days have a silk and/or hand wash cycle.
Three of the finer detergents available on the market today are The Laundress, a local favorite here in Soho, Linen Wash from Le Blanc and The Laundry’s Finest Laundry Powder from The Laundry at Linens Limited. Each is known to be a powerhouse when it comes to removing stains. Based out of Tampa, Florida, Le Blanc’s linen wash is formulated with organic, biodegradable ingredients that have been tested to remove stains from the worst culprits—like lipstick, grease, and red wine, according to Dana Del Rosal, Director of Sales and Operations for Le Blanc.
The following lists the best way to wash and dry your napkins and linens:
In the Washer:
- Wash in cold water. It will always produce the best result. Use it for:
- Whites with colored embroidery
- Hand-painted or embroidered fabric
- Novelty fabric
- ALWAYS wash like colors together—corals with corals, turquoise with turquoise, whites with whites. Colors bleed easily, even within color families. Ruining napkins can happen if washed with your favorite red shirt. Do not ever mix colors and whites in the same wash.
- Use the hand wash or delicate cycle for silk or hand-printed or embroidered fabrics. (Yes, silk can be washed.)
- Warm water can be used on occasion and is especially suitable for white napkins.
- Avoid hot water. It can cause fibers to contract, turn yellow, or even become damaged.
- Measure powder detergent correctly. Too much causes sheets and linens to stiffen and powder to become embedded in the fibers.
- Current washing machines models have a spin cycle that extracts most of the water from an item, thus reducing the drying time.
The wash & stain bar from The Laundress works magic for removing oil and grease stains like salad dressing, beauty products, lotion, and dirt.
In the Dryer:
- The dryer is the enemy of your nice napkins, whether they’re cotton, linen, or silk. It can literally bake the fabric. Tumble dry briefly, if at all.
- Remove napkins from the dryer while damp. A few minutes is enough to pull out excess moisture.
- Block napkins after removing from the machine: Stretch the seams and embroidery, smooth out, and lay flat, stacking each on top of the other. Let air dry. Iron, if desired.
In our showroom, we routinely launder linens in the washer and dryer. Drying is kept to a minimum, as ironing a napkin or cloth placemat when it’s damp helps to alleviate wrinkles quicker. People are of two minds about ironing, though: They either love it or hate it—and if you don’t have household help, chances are it may not get done. If you’re a more relaxed hostess, wrinkles may not be an issue. A napkin ring can even hide those that remain. “They don’t have to be perfect for a casual dinner or everyday use,” says Kim.
The Laundry at Linens Limited is also widely known as an expert on linen care. The company, out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is celebrated for its know-how on stain removal and repairing intricate stitching and handiwork. Their detergent, The Laundry’s Finest Laundry Powder, is the secret weapon for many. “It’s a detergent, not a soap,” says President and Owner Liz Barbatelli, noting its power to remove tough stains. The Powder is formulated to dissolve in cold water, best for washing linens. Clients swear by it, she notes, to keep their linens looking as good as new.
And for those of you who prefer someone else to handle your laundry, sending it to The Laundry at Linens Limited is an easy choice. Although known as experts for repairing family heirlooms or wedding gifts, The Laundry also handles everyday items. We were fascinated by footage on the company website that showed employees working on stunning antique sheets and repairing fine lace handiwork. Visit them at www.linenlaundry.com to see for yourself.