Posted by Bridget Reed

How To Soften Linen Sheets: 10 Tips And Tricks

5 min read

Linen sheets: elegant, breathable, but sometimes a bit scratchy. You don't have to be a luxury bedding aficionado to appreciate the timeless appeal of linen, one of the best materials for bed sheets. Derived from flax plants, linen has been a beloved fabric for centuries, gracing the bedrooms of royalty and commoners alike. 

While renowned for its quality, durability, and comfort, linen can feel somewhat rough to the touch when new. Fortunately, this is not a permanent state of affairs. So, if you’re wondering how to soften sheets, read on. 

With proper care and clever tips, linen's initial coarseness can give way to a soft, soothing texture inviting relaxation and sleep. If you've found yourself lamenting the sandpaper-like feel of your new linen sheets, rest easy knowing that you will walk away with the answer to how to soften linen sheets.

What Is Linen and Why Is It a Popular Choice for Sheets?

Linen is a natural fiber derived from the flax plant, a versatile and hardy crop that thrives in various climates. Known for its durability and breathability, linen sheets are popular for those seeking cool and comfortable sleep

The fabric's open weave allows for optimal airflow, keeping you cool in the summer and cozy in the winter. But is linen soft? Not naturally.

So, what does linen feel like? Linen's unique texture might feel a bit coarse at first, but its softness grows with proper care and washing. One of the charming aspects of linen is that it becomes softer and more supple over time. 

This evolution, its natural antibacterial properties, and environmental friendliness make linen a top choice for bedding. But waiting for linen to soften naturally can take time — and we don’t always have the patience. If you’re thinking, “My new sheets feel like sandpaper,” we have the answer!

You likely spend a huge amount of your life sleeping, so it’s important to make sure that sleep is worthwhile. So, let’s talk about how to make sheets softer!

1. Use Vinegar in the Wash

If you're searching for how to soften linen sheets, vinegar can be a natural and cost-effective solution. Adding just half a cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser introduces an ingredient that can break down the stiffness found in new linen. 

The acetic acid in vinegar helps to dissolve the residues that make the fibers feel hard, leaving the sheets softer and more comfortable. This tip is especially useful for those keen on using natural, non-toxic methods in their laundry routine. 

As a bonus, vinegar also acts as a deodorizer and brightener, enhancing the overall freshness and appearance of your linen sheets. No lingering vinegar smell to worry about either, as it washes away cleanly in the rinse cycle. But vinegar isn’t the only answer to “how to make linen softer.”

2. Add Baking Soda to the Washing Cycle

Another option for how to soften new sheets is as easy as visiting your own pantry — baking soda can help soften your linen sheets. Simply mix half a cup of baking soda with your regular detergent. This way, you’ll tap into the alkaline nature of baking soda, which can help to soften fibers, making your linen feel more inviting. 

This versatile household item enhances the detergent’s cleaning power while also neutralizing odors. Afterward, you’ll have sheets that are smoother to the touch and refreshingly clean. And since baking soda is environmentally friendly, you can enjoy softer linen without any eco-guilt.

3. Wash New Linen Sheets Separately

When caring for new linen sheets, a little separation can go a long way. That's right — washing them separately from other fabrics is a step that might sound mundane but has profound effects on how to make linen softer. Mixing them with other materials might cause abrasions and friction, leading your linen sheets to take on that unwanted sandpaper-like quality. 

This simple tip prevents unnecessary roughness, ensuring that your linen retains its softness from the very first wash. Besides keeping the texture pleasant, it also helps in maintaining the integrity and color of your linen, making it a win-win situation.

4. Air Dry Linen Sheets

Allowing the fabric to dry naturally encourages the fibers to relax, which can be instrumental in making them softer. If weather permits, hang the sheets outside and let the fresh air do its magic. 

The sun's gentle warmth and the soft caress of the wind can create an ideal drying environment, preserving the structure of the linen while enhancing its softness. This method is kind to your sheets and energy-efficient, aligning with the eco-conscious essence of linen.

5. Use a Gentle Fabric Softener

If you’re looking for an easy answer to how to make sheets softer, look for natural or mild fabric softeners free from harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances. By using a gentle softener, you are ensuring that the texture of the linen is preserved while complementing its natural softening process. 

Not only will this enhance the feel of your sheets, but it also supports their longevity, keeping them fresh, flexible, and fabulous for years to come. 

6. Iron Linen Sheets While Damp

While you may imagine ironing as a step in your laundry process that makes fabrics more rigid, the opposite is the case regarding linen. Ironing them while still damp can make a noticeable difference to their softness. And although the appealingly rumbled look linen gets when it wrinkles is part of the appeal, sometimes there’s something luxurious about ironing your sheets.

The gentle heat combined with the moisture helps relax the fibers, contributing to a softer feel. No more lamenting, “My new sheets feel like sandpaper!” Just be sure to set the iron to a low heat setting suitable for linen. It's a method that's simple yet effective!

7. Avoid High Heat While Drying

The temperature at which you dry your linen sheets can make or break their softness. Extreme heat can stiffen the fabric, defeating all the previous efforts to soften it. Always select a low-temperature setting when tumble drying or, better yet, allow the linen to air dry. 

8. Hand Wash Linen Sheets Occasionally

Another option for how to soften linen is as simple as pie. While most linen sheets are machine washable (that’s part of the appeal!), occasionally giving your linen sheets a break from harsher washing techniques can help encourage and preserve their softness. 

The delicate agitation of hand washing is less harsh on the fibers, allowing them to retain that soft and luxurious feel. Though time-consuming, this method might be worth the extra effort, especially for those special linen sets that deserve extra care and attention.

9. Use a Tennis Ball in the Dryer

Here's a surprising trick for how to make linen softer: toss a clean tennis ball in the dryer with your linen sheets. It's not just for fun…The gentle bouncing action of the ball fluffs up the fabric, enhancing its softness. 

This unexpected technique can give your linen a cushy feel reminiscent of high-end hotel sheets. Just be sure to use a low heat setting to protect the integrity of the linen, and you'll be on your way to a fluffier bedtime experience.

10. Follow Specific Manufacturer's Instructions

Last but certainly not least, always pay close attention to the specific instructions provided by the linen sheet manufacturer. These guidelines are crafted with the fabric's unique qualities in mind, so adhering to them ensures that you treat the linen in the best way possible. 

Often, you can learn how to soften linen just by following the manufacturer’s advice. This promotes long-lasting softness and comfort, ensuring that your investment in quality linen continues to pay off in luxurious sleep for years to come.

From Scratch to Snuggly

Do linen sheets get softer? Yes! With a variety of approaches ranging from using natural household items like vinegar and baking soda to attentive drying techniques, these tips can transform your linen from scratchy to sublime. 

Choosing the right sheets is just as important to your home’s comfiness and cleanliness as choosing the right towels — so make sure you have all the facts about caring for linen sheets before committing.

The luxury of softened linen isn't reserved for sheets that you’ve been caring for over many years. So embrace the inviting comfort of linen sheets that welcome you into a restful sleep night after night because you deserve nothing but the best


Best Materials for Bed Sheets | Sleep Foundation

Best Temperature for Sleep | Sleep Foundation

We Spend About One-Third of Our Life Either Sleeping or Attempting To Do So | National Library of Medicine

Homemade Cleansers | K-State Research

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