Can You Bleach Linen

  • Before we discover the mysteries of bleaching linen, let’s tackle the essentials of linen fibers. Let’s see what we know about linen fabric, where it comes from, and how hard it is to keep it in good condition.
  • What if it’s time for bleaching linen because your white linen fabric got severely yellow? Is using chemical bleach a good idea? Or maybe it’s better to stay with homemade solutions such as lemon juice, baking soda, or distilled white vinegar?
  • Keep reading to explore the fascinating world of linen! Learn how to bleach linen sheets and if it’s the right thing to do.

Explore linen 

Linen fabrics come from flax plants, which are the linen’s natural structural sources. Flax plant grows throughout Europe. 

There is currently no commercial production of linen in the United States. In Europe, Belgium linen is renowned for its highest quality.

Linen sheets and other linens are breathable, lightweight, soft, and durable.

They have natural qualities

  • against moth and bacteria,
  • perspiration-resistance qualities, and 
  • they provide maximum comfort;

Linen is used for:

  • linen clothing,
  • linen sheets, 
  • window treatments, 
  • bandages, and 
  • home accessories;

Since the dawn of time, flax plants have grown throughout the Mediterranean and Central Asia. 

The first clothes were made of linen fabric!

Our ancestors discovered that soaking a flax plant in water makes its outer steam rot. Along with this process, long, soft fibers (previously hidden underneath the outer steam) started to appear. 

When people noticed it, they started to weave linen or cellulosic fibers into the fabric.

In ancient Egypt, they used the most refined and gracious pieces of linen to create fabric for tunics and clothes. For boat sails and grain sacks, they used coarser linen samples. 

Then, after conquering Egypt, Romans began to dye the linen with vivid colors and spread its use throughout Europe.

Early settlers to America brought flax seeds to plant in the New World.

Until the mid-1800s, linen was the predominant fabric. 

Then, cotton production and manufacturing of other fabric types kicked off for good, and they were thriving in the Southern states, taking over the demand for fabric fibers.

How to care for linen textiles?

For starters, linen isn’t as easy to deal with as cotton. 

Natural linen fabrics are much weaker when they are wet. They are also prone to abrasion during usage. 

Read these “Linen sheets care tips” on Homes to Love to learn more. 

We should wash linen garments and sheets thoroughly, giving them special care, such as using mild detergent and avoiding hot water. 

When you’re about to remove stains, this delicate material shouldn’t be treated with harsh chemicals. 

As durable, luxurious, and comfortable linen fabric is, its splendidness comes in with some issues regarding its maintenance. 

What can we do, and what shouldn’t we do with linen fabric?

 Can we throw it into the washing machine when it gets dirty and wash our napkins, linens, and clothing in hot water like any other material? 

What about chemical methods and iron? Which laundry detergent to use? 

What method is the best to remove stains on this natural fabric?

Learn what could harm the linen material to provide it with the best care.


The safest method is always hand wash because it lets you have everything under control. 

When it comes to tossing linens into the washing machine, checking the manufacturer’s laundry instructions is always a good thing.

Tip: Turn your clothes made of linen inside out before washing to protect and prevent surface fibers from breaking. 

You can wash the majority of linen items and linen sheets if only you’re following precautions. 

Important: Only several linen garments, for example, structured clothes such as lined coats and jackets, need dry cleaning instead of a typical washing machine process. It’s because of the inner fabrics and linings that help them hold their shape.

You can wash linen clothes with the washing machine or by hand. 

If you decide on a washing machine, use

  • gentle cycle with warm (up to 40 degrees), or 
  • cold water rinse cycle;

In general, washing linen comes with a set of understandable rules, and as soon as you get to know them, all you have to do is follow them. 


What’s the best way to dry linen?

Enjoy the blessings of linen clothing or bedding, washing and drying it correctly!

The best and safest way to dry linen clothes is to air-dry them. 

Important: In some cases and very responsibly, it’s also possible to dry linen clothes in the dryer. In case your linen shrinks, dampen it all over with a bottle of water and then gently stretch it on all sides.

Bleaching linen

While linens that turned yellowy are the worst. 

If you want to have white linens, and what comes out from the washing machine are yellowed linens, one can get frustrated. 

How to whiten yellowed linens?

A couple of bleaching methods can turn your delicate linen back white after it goes yellow. Bleaching can also remove single stains from colored or white linens. 

Consider using distilled white vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or oxygen bleach. Yet, it’s essential to know that these methods are never totally safe. 

It’s always a good idea to make a test on a small, hidden area of the fabric before going all in!

How to bleach linen fabrics effectively? Keep reading to find out. 

Can you bleach linen? As a rule of thumb, it’s better to avoid using bleach on bed linens. This is because you can weaken linen fibers with chlorine bleach. In addition, bleach is harsh and can damage the fabric.

Important: Never apply undiluted bleach directly to the fabric, even if it is white, and you’re not afraid of losing the color. Use diluted bleach solutions instead. Pour it on linen or cellulosic fibers for stain removal and whitening. However, this diluted solution will also weaken fibers and can cause them to rip and wear out if used too often.

We don’t recommend bleaching delicate linens, but some of your yellowed linen items may call for a serious refresh. 

In this case, a simple laundry won’t be enough!

Yet, instead of using chlorine bleach, which is strong and can be highly toxic, bleach linen with natural alternative methods, such as vinegar, a cup of baking soda, sunshine (that’s precisely what we mean), lemon juice, aspirin, hydrogen peroxide or oxygen bleach.

Only if these methods fail can you use a chemical solution, such as a bottle of chlorine bleach.

If you use chlorine bleach, always read the instructions carefully to avoid harming your skin or eyes. Wear protective gloves (rubber gloves).  

Important: Never mix chlorine bleach chemical bleach with oxygen bleach or ammonia—it can release dangerous fumes! 

Tip: When you bleach linen fabric white, test a small area on an unseen part of the garment before treating the entire piece.

Make a mixed bleaching solution of one teaspoon of bleach with two teaspoons of water. Then, take a pipette or cotton bud and dab it onto the fabric. 

Don’t use bleach on the garment if the color begins to change or if it transfers onto the cotton bud.

If your white linen materials or clothing are of good quality, they have a chance to withstand potential damage from the bleach. 

Thinner weaves or linen blends might wear thinner or break. Also, dark colors such as khaki may not be completely stable with dyed linen. So stain remover can change the color of your garment. 

So, can you bleach linen, and how do you do it? 

Here is the bleaching process in steps:

  1. For starters, re-read all the warnings we shared above before you even begin!
  2. Now, run your wash on a normal cycle with a hot water cycle; unless your linens care instructions recommend only warm or cool water. 
  3. Pause the wash cycle after 5-10 minutes, so your detergent starts washing before the bleach comes in.
  4. Dilute one cup of bleach with one liter of water.
  5. Add your mix to the detergent dispenser.
  6. Re-start the wash.
  7. After your laundry ends, remove the items and check your linen fabric for damage. 
  8. If there are still yellow parts left on your linen fabric, repeat the process. Do it until you get the desired result. You can also try to increase the heat of the water, but it’s risky for your colored and white fabrics.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Test a stain removal product on an inside seam or hem of your linen before actually treating the stain. Spread a bit of the stain remover on the seam and rub with a cotton swab. If color transfers to the swab, don't use this product on your fabric.
Linen keeps you cool in the summer and when you sleep. You sweat less in linen because the wide, lengthy fibers of linen allow air to pass through the fabric.
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