Mastering Linen Care: Understanding Shrinkage and Choosing the right one

In the article you will learn how to buy the right linen, what happens to linen fibers and what to do to have an linen garment that fits right... all the time.

Linen is a luxurious and durable fabric known for its breathability, softness, and ability to absorb moisture without feeling damp. However, linen also has a propensity to shrink if not cared for properly. If you’ve recently purchased two of the same linen items and found that one is smaller than the other, this guide will explain why that happens and how to purchase a linen garment.

How is linen fabric made?
Linen is produced from the fibers of flax plants, primarily grown in cooler climates like Belgium, France, and the Netherlands, though also in other regions. After harvesting, flax undergoes a "retting" process, where the fibers are soaked in water and then dried. The fibers are further separated by "scutching," which crushes the woody parts of the stalk.

The remaining long fibers are "heckled" using a combing technique to remove short fibers, then spun into yarn and woven into linen fabric. Linen is renowned for its strength, due to the crystalline structure of flax fibers, and its sustainability. Over time, linen becomes even stronger and softer.

Why does linen shrink?
Linen fabric experiences "relaxation shrinkage" due to the nature of flax fibers, which stretch during production. When these fibers get wet, they return to their original size, causing the fabric to shrink. Hot water, high dryer temperatures, and hot irons can exacerbate this shrinkage by further relaxing the fibers. On average, linen can shrink by about 4%, but in certain conditions, and linen jersey can shrink by as much as 10%.

At CAMIXA we pre-wash our linen shirts and tops prior to packing, this way you will. not have surprises when you wash your item. 

Why I purchased two of the same style items and one is slightly smaller than the other?

The most significant shrinkage in linen typically occurs during the first wash. If one item was pre-washed and the other was not, or if they were washed under different conditions, or the fabric colours or productions were different this could result in size differences. Variations in the manufacturing process or natural inconsistencies in the flax fibers can also contribute to this discrepancy. Remember, you are purchasing a "live" fiber, not a plastic polyester!

That is why we suggest to add a couple of CMs to your measurements in our Sizing Guide

linen tops for women

 The Martina linen tops

How to prevent linens from shrinking in the wash
At CAMIXA wash all linen garments prior packaging, so you should be "covered", however linen could still shrink slightly (1%-3%). 


  1. Select Pre-Washed Linen: When buying linen, choose items that have been pre-washed to minimize further shrinkage. You are all good with CAMIXA ☑
  2. Use Cold Water: Always wash linen in cold or lukewarm water. Hot water will cause the fibers to contract and shrink.
  3. Gentle Cycle: Use a gentle or delicate cycle to reduce agitation and prevent damage to the fibers.
  4. Mild Detergent: Avoid harsh detergents and fabric softeners. Use a mild detergent to preserve the integrity of the fibers.

How to prevent linens from shrinking in the dryer
While we recommend not to use a dryer, we know some customers love using it.

  1. Avoid High Heat: Do not tumble dry linen on high heat. Instead, use a low-heat setting or line dry.
  2. Remove While Damp: If using a dryer, remove the linen items while they are still slightly damp and allow them to air dry completely.
  3. Iron While Damp: Iron your linen on a low to medium setting while it is still damp to help maintain its shape and size.
The Lina Sand as see on La Sartorial

What to do If shrinking occurs: can you un-shrink linen?

If your linen has already shrunk, you can try the following steps to stretch it back to its original size:

  1. Rewash the Item: Soak the shrunken item in lukewarm water with a mild detergent for about 10 minutes.
  2. Gently Remove Excess Water: Press out excess water without wringing the fabric.
  3. Iron While Damp: Lay the item flat on an ironing board covered with a towel. Using a low heat setting, iron the fabric from the center outwards, gently stretching the fibers back to their original size.

Final thoughts
Linen is a beautiful, durable fabric that requires specific care to maintain its qualities. By understanding why linen shrinks and following the recommended care guidelines and our Sizing Guide, prior ordering, you can enjoy your linen garments for many, many years. If you encounter any size discrepancies or shrinkage, use the outlined methods to address these issues effectively.