There are no prizes for guessing that the word lint derives from linen. Flax has extremely long fibres but despite their strength, they are relatively brittle, especially when they are dry - one reason we caution against over-drying linen, in a tumble dryer or while ironing.
Linen can hold a lot of moisture before feeling in the least damp, and this moisture keeps us comfortable and the linen pliable. If you tumble-dry your linen to a crisp, you will have creases which are near-impossible to get out, unless you damp the fabric. We always suggest drying until the linen is just barely damp, then shaking it out flat, and the creases disappear, leaving the soft, slightly rumpled, inimitable texture we love.
If you line-dry, your linens smell heavenly from their outing in the fresh air, but they can be stiff as a board if there isn’t a breeze. A quick tumble - five minutes is plenty - will soften it, and always use wool dryer balls, they really do speed up the process. We love that initial crispness of freshly washed sheets, it goes quite quickly more's the pity!
To iron a garment, try spraying it with water, even if using a steam iron, you get more water that way and the process is quicker. We rarely tumble garments, preferring to dry them partially on a hanger, then touching them up with an iron if necessary. A freshly washed white linen shirt looks great unironed, gleamingly clean, crisp and unfussy, and just a little louche. They wear better - think of it, collar and cuffs are the first to show wear, even when the remainder of the shirt is pristine.
What is excessive lint? There is always some lint, and it can be quite alarming, especially for the first few washes. Looser weaves like Myriad and Waffle do throw off more lint than a dense weave like Orkney. Some companies stonewash their fabrics for softness, but we don’t as it impairs durability. Use a short wash with a presoak if necessary, gentle, eco-detergent, and not much of it! Detergent buildup is a bad thing, and weakens fibers - Tide and Tide-like detergents in particular are formulated to cope with manmade fibers, which tend to harbor smells and become dingy. Linen on the other hand “wears clean”, like wool, so as far as detergent is concerned, less is more.
Lint is completely biodegradable, so you can add it to your compost, or put it out for the birds to line their nests.
Linen will always have more lint than extruded artificial fibers, but if you follow these suggestions, it should be manageable. Enjoy your linens!
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