There’s nothing quite like that fresh linen smell. However, after a few washes and uses, it might seem impossible to keep your linen in great shape. However, good-quality linen can last a long time if it’s properly cared for, and one of the most important factors is storing it correctly.
If you want to prolong the life of your linen – or even maintain that fresh linen scent we all know and love – there are a few handy tips you can follow. From finding the right location to protecting linen from mildew, here are 5 smart ways to store your linen so it lasts.
1 Choose the right location
When it comes to storing your linen, finding the right spot is crucial. The best place is somewhere that’s clean, dry and cool – for most people, this is a dedicated linen cupboard.
Ventilation is also important for reducing the potential for mildew, as is ensuring that the location receives minimal light to prevent any premature fading. If you don’t have an appropriate built-in cupboard or closet, don’t worry. Freestanding cupboards are a great alternative, and open, wall-mounted shelves can also do the trick if you keep them out of the line of direct sunlight. Pay attention to the surface on which you store your linen, as wood, newspaper and even cardboard can react with the material, leaving a mark or causing it to change colour over time.
Whilst plastic bedding bins might be tempting for a Marie Kondo-style approach to storage, this is not the best option when it comes to storing natural fibres like linen. Airtight containers prevent the linen from properly breathing, and will instead encourage mildew to grow, giving your linen an unpleasant musty odour and causing possible discolouration.
2 Make sure the linen is clean and dry
It might sound obvious, but be sure to wash your linen before storing it away. Doing so will prevent the growth of any bacteria – plus, stains oxidise over time, which makes them difficult to remove. Of course, there may be times when you need to quickly store linen after use, but remember to pull it out and give it a wash as soon as you can. If you need extra incentive, true 100% linen becomes softer after every wash. Experts recommend you wash linen at least once a week at a cold temperature to prevent the material from shrinking.
When it comes to drying linen, air-drying is recommended, but if this really isn’t an option, you can tumble dry on a low heat setting and avoid overcrowding the machine. It’s important to make sure the linen is completely dry before storing, since even the slightest lingering dampness can lead to mould and mildew, especially if the storage location isn’t properly aerated.
3 Fold correctly
Perhaps surprisingly, the way you fold your linen can have an impact on its longevity. Linen should be folded and stacked on top of each other, with the edges facing the back of the cupboard – and if possible, avoid crowding too much linen into one space. Not only will this protect the integrity of the material by preventing its edges from being frayed, but giving the linen space to breathe – and avoiding it being stored crumpled – will help prevent mould.
The other benefit of this method of folding is that it makes for a neater and more orderly appearance, helping make your linen cupboard aesthetically pleasing. If you have shallow shelves, or simply need to save space, you can also roll your linen. If you’d like to go one step further in preserving your linen, store it in a linen bag (or even a king-sized linen pillowcase).
4 Consider adding a pleasant scent (or baking soda)
There’s nothing like that fresh linen scent – but when you’re storing away sheets in cupboards it can be hard to preserve. If you want to pull your linen out and have it smelling beautiful (even after an extended amount of time), consider adding a scent to your linen cupboard. Lavender-scented sachets can give your linen a light aroma – and even a scented soap or candle can do the trick. Just avoid storing these sachets directly on your linen and instead place them somewhere alongside it. Adding a scent also has the extra benefit of protecting against moths.
Believe it or not, baking soda can actually help maintain the scent of fresh linen by absorbing any odorous smells. If you’d rather opt for that natural, fresh linen scent, store a box of unopened baking soda beside the linen – of course, preferably at the back of the cupboard to avoid spilling it!
5 Give your linen closet a clean from time to time
Last but not least, whilst it might be tempting to store your linen away and forget about it, take the time to give your linen cupboard (or wherever you choose to store it) a good clean out every now and then. This is a great way to catch any mould, mildew or insect damage early. Of course, true linen has natural moth and insect-repelling properties, but cotton or linen blends aren’t immune. Cleaning your linen closet is a good practice to institute, especially if there are seasons, like summer, where you find you don’t use it as much. By giving your cupboard a refresh from time to time, you’ll keep your linen in prime condition and help it last for years to come.
Remember that quality linen will tend to have a longer lifespan than its cheaper counter-parts. While you might begin to see signs of wear after three years, with proper care linen sheets can last for years!