Many people are turning to natural linen fabric as the material of choice. It’s become all the rage and is trending in clothing, duvet covers, sheets, curtains, and tablecloths.
Natural linen fabric is made from the flax plant. It’s sourced from long golden fibers that run lengthwise through the stalks. Linen is durable, breathable, non-static, elegant, non-pilling, insulating, and hypoallergenic. Natural linen should be free of artificial dyes and chemical treatments.
There’s a huge list of linen items that people love and buy. As people turn towards a cleaner and simpler lifestyle, natural linen becomes the obvious choice.
List of Linen Items
- Natural duvet cover
- Face mask
- Throw blanket & pillows
Questions About Linen
What’s good about linen?
- Linen is 100% natural.
- No part of the flax plant goes to waste in the production process.
- Linen doesn’t collect static electricity.
- Linen is very breathable and cooling.
- Linen absorbs moisture well.
- Linen is a great insulator.
- Linen is known to be strong and durable.
- Linen doesn’t pill.
- Linen gets softer the more you wash it. Take care to follow the tag’s laundering instructions for the best results.
- Linen doesn’t require a lot of water to grow, saving money, labor, and natural resources.
- Linen can be recycled.
- Linen doesn’t require as many chemical pesticides and fertilizers that other competing fabrics demand.
- Linen was worn by royalty, wealthy, and priestly classes throughout history. Mummies and the body of Jesus were wrapped in it.
- Linen is an eco-friendly fabric and a smarter choice for the environment.
What type of fiber is linen?
Linen comes from long golden threads that run lengthwise within the stalks of the flax plant, scientifically known as Linum usitatissimum.
It’s a type of natural fiber that’s been utilized for thousands of years. Linen is naturally-occurring and can grow in the wild without using much water.
Linen is made up of cellulose strands that are classified as bast fibers. These fibers are located in the vascular tissue of the flax plant and transport nutrients from the leaves to nourish other parts of the plant.
Linen is a strong and sturdy fiber that’s also soft and flexible.
What is Natural Linen?
True natural linen should be pure organic linen. That means it comes directly from the flax plant that’s organically grown without synthetic pesticides, artificial fertilizers, and chemicals. It should be free of synthetic dyes and chemical-finishing treatments. Natural linen is soaked in water, not chemical enzymes.
What to look for in natural linen:
- Grown without artificial pesticides and fertilizers
- Only natural dyes used
- GOTS certified
- Sweatshop-free: fair-labor practices
- Fibers soaked in water, not chemical enzymes
- “100% linen” on label
- OEKO-TEX certified
Linen is not 100% natural if it contains:
- Synthetic dyes
- Artificial chemicals in the manufacturing process
- Chemical finishing sprays
- Any synthetic fiber blends (like polyester)
- Flax fibers soaked in chemical enzymes
- Artificial pesticides sprayed on the plants
- Nanoparticles (synthetic)
If you’re not sure, write to the company and ask how natural their linen is.
Why Linen is Sustainable
Linen is a natural fabric that’s sustainable because it doesn’t require a lot of water to grow. All parts of the plant are used, so nothing goes to waste. Linen doesn’t depend on many pesticides or synthetic fertilizers in order to thrive. It’s recyclable and biodegradable in its organic state.
Why Linen is Good for Summer
Linen is an amazing fabric for summer. Many people choose to wear linen during the hot season because of the following characteristics:
- Absorbs moisture and perspiration well
- Has a weave that allows moisture to escape through
- Cooling, airy, and breathable
- Can be very lightweight
- Doesn’t cling to skin like polyester
- No static electricity
- Dries quickly as the breeze blows over it
- Feels soft, light, and gentle next to skin
How is linen made from flax? 10 Steps
Natural linen is made from flax in a step-by-step manner:
- Flax seeds are planted in the spring. They don’t need much water to grow.
- It takes about 3-4 months for flax plants to reach full maturity. They’re harvested in the summer once they reach a height of approximately 1 meter.
- Upon harvest, the entire flax plant must be fully uprooted. It should not be cut at the base of the stalk. The roots give longer fibers for the linen fabric. Longer fibers make smoother fabric.
- The flax plants are then soaked in water for 1-2 weeks to soften and break down the outer bark of the stalks.
- After soaking, the plants are set out to dry naturally in the sun for a couple of weeks. They’re turned over and spread out every so often to ensure even drying.
- Once dry, the stalks are bundled together and placed upright in the sun for another week. This makes them extra dry and crispy.
- Now the flax fibers are fully dried out and straw-like. This makes the outer bark of the stalks easy to knock off. The dried plants are then beaten with a tool to dislodge the dry outer bark from the golden inner flax threads. Lots of dry debris flies off during this step. This process breaks down the tough outer fibers of the plant.
- The fibers continue to get pounded, bent, and pulled with various tools to further break down, soften, and strip away the outer bark. You’ll notice that the inner golden threads begin to appear the more you knock off the dry outer husk. It becomes a beautiful blonde color the more you strip off and break down the tough outer fibers (it’s what’s on the inside that counts).
- Next, the long fibers are combed out to smooth, separate, and further remove the unwanted outer husk. This process also keeps the longer threads and removes the shorter ones. It’s best to keep the longest fibers, as they make the smoothest and best quality linen.
- The long threads are then wound up and put on spools. These spools of flax threads are used to spin linen fabric.
What is GOTS-certified linen fabric?
GOTS stands for Global Organic Textile Standard.
If you’re seeking the purest and most natural linen out there, it’s good to have GOTS certification on the fabric.
GOTS sets a global standard for the processing of organic fibers in fabrics.
- If the GOTS label says “organic“, the fabric must contain at least 95% certified organic fibers. 1
- If the label says “made with organic“, the fabric must contain at least 70% organic fibers. 1
GOTS certification ensures that workers are treated fairly and humanely. It also keeps toxic chemicals out of the fabric production process. It confirms that proper accreditation and organic certification standards are in place.
If you want pure natural linen, make sure it’s:
- GOTS certified
- OEKO-TEX certified
Is linen natural or synthetic?
Linen is a natural fabric because it comes from the inner fibers of the flax plant.
Linen is considered to be in its most natural state when the fabric is:
- free of dyes
- not treated with finishing chemical sprays
- GOTS certified
- not soaked in chemicals or artificial enzymes
- made from 100% linen (flax)
Is linen natural or manmade?
Linen is a natural fabric that’s assembled by weaving the fibrous inner threads of the flax plant together. To become a fabric, humans weave the threads into material. However, the threads themselves are 100% natural and have been used for thousands of years to make fabrics.
To ensure the quality of natural linen fabric, make sure it’s OEKO-TEX certified.
Linen doesn’t contain synthetic fibers because it comes directly from the flax plant. To ensure linen is pure, make sure it’s not blended with any other fiber and the label reads “100% linen”. It should also be GOTS certified organic to ensure purity, quality, and standardization.
Does linen wrinkle?
Yes. Linen is known to naturally wrinkle. This is part of what gives it a laid-back casual look. Everyone who wears linen knows that a soft wrinkled surface is what linen is all about. Instead of fighting it, linen lovers embrace the relaxed and informal approach to comfort and style.
Linen is usually carefully ironed according to the instructions on the fabric’s care tag. This helps remove wrinkles and provides a refined pressed appearance.
Does linen shrink?
Linen has the potential for some shrinkage if washed in hot water or dried on the high-heat dryer setting. It’s always best to follow the instructions on your fabric’s care tag to ensure the best results.
Some linen is already preshrunk by the time it gets to you, so this type is less likely to shrink if you carefully follow the care tag instructions. If uncertain, write or call the company and ask if the fabric is preshrunk.
I’ve found that my linen gets softer the more I wash it. I also noticed it doesn’t shrink when I wash it in cold water and dry it carefully on the delicate (cool) dryer cycle. But that doesn’t mean all linen will respond that way. Be sure to follow the fabric’s care tag on your item to be safe. Some linen might require dry cleaning, other linen might require handwashing.
Not all linen is the same.
Is linen flax?
Yes. Linen is a natural fabric that comes from the long inner fibers of flax plant stalks. The outer husk of the plant is soaked and stripped away, leaving 100% natural threads to be spun into linen.
Is linen flattering?
Linen is flattering when it’s properly pressed or ironed according to the care tag’s instructions. It looks much better when wrinkles are minimized. Linen is praised as a cleaner, simpler, and natural fabric.
Linen is flattering in both casual and formal situations.
The relaxed airy flow of linen makes it the perfect fabric choice for summer casual events.
Linen is extremely flattering for formal events as well. Men’s linen suits are considered a luxury item and highly respected in the fashion community. Italian and Irish linen get particular attention for their superior quality.
Why linen is flattering:
- It says you’re down-to-earth and approachable.
- It says you’re not stuffy, yet have excellent taste.
- It shows you have a sense of fashion without going overboard.
- It breathes a message of health and freedom to those around you.
- It shows you have a connection with and appreciation for refined nature.
- It gives you a lightness that’s attractive.
- It’s a forgiving fabric that looks good when loose and flowing.
Is linen cotton?
No. Linen is not cotton. Linen comes from the flax plant Linum usitatissimum, which is not genetically modified. In the United States, most cotton comes from genetically-engineered (GMO) plants such as HT cotton and Bt cotton. 2
What is linen cotton?
Linen cotton is a blend of 2 completely different fibers: 1) the flax plant and 2) the cotton plant. Linen comes from the flax plant and cotton comes from the cotton plant. When the 2 are weaved together, a unique fabric called linen cotton is the result. There’s usually more linen than cotton in the material.
If you’re searching for pure linen, make sure to look for “100% linen” on the label. That means it’s made entirely out of flax. Linen is flax.
There’s no such thing as a linen cotton plant.
What does linen feel like?
Linen feels similar to cotton. The more you wash it, the softer it gets (if the care tag says it’s safe to wash). It’s breathable and cooling because it allows moisture to escape through. Linen fabric feels light, airy, and loose. It’s non-static and flows well. Many people prefer linen sheets over cotton because they’re softer, more durable, and breathable.
What is European linen?
European linen is a type of natural linen that’s grown in Europe. It’s regarded as a high quality linen by many experts.
Some of the best linen in the world comes from countries such as Belgium, Ireland, and Italy. Europe has grown flax for many generations and has mastered the art and craft with great precision. They take linen production to the next level.
The best linen from Europe should be composed of 100% flax fibers that are grown there. Some companies send their linen to be manufactured in different countries, which could compromise quality. If this bothers you, check to see that it’s also made in Europe. Not all linen is actually made in Europe, even though it’s grown there.
If you want authentic linen from Europe, top-to-bottom, check to see that it’s both grown in Europe and made in Europe. This is harder to find. Read your labels carefully and ask questions if unsure. Look for labels and stamps of certification that verify this.
The very best linen will be grown and made in Europe.
Why buy linen?
- Linen is durable. If well cared for, it has the potential to last a long time.
- Linen is soft. It feels good next to the skin and pleasant to touch.
- Linen is generally a higher quality choice when compared to cotton.
- Linen is anti-static. If you’re looking for a good fabric that doesn’t cling, this is an excellent choice.
- Linen is both casual and luxurious. It’s one of the few fabrics that can pull off both occasions in one punch.
- Linen breathes. This makes it great for hot weather.
- Linen absorbs moisture.
- Linen doesn’t require much water to grow. Cotton does. This helps preserve the planet’s water resources.
- It’s light and airy, making it a super comfortable fabric to wear.
- Linen is all-natural. It comes from the flax plant and isn’t produced from GMO seeds.
- Linen doesn’t promote animal cruelty, like silk manufacturing. Linen is 100% plant-based. For more on silk, here’s an article on this website.
- Every part of the flax plant used to make linen can be utilized. So there’s not a lot that goes to waste in the manufacturing process.
- Linen is a luxury. It becomes a loved and cherished fabric in the home. Most people feel like they are treating themselves when they buy it.
- It connects you to one of the most ancient fabrics that have been cultivated for thousands of years. Linen was prized and worn in royal bloodlines and elite groups of the past.
- People who know fashion will respect you if you’re wearing high-quality linen. Even though it can be casual, it can also be a statement of class.
Linen vs Cotton
|Requires a small amount of water to grow||Requires massive amounts of water to grow|
|Stronger than cotton||Weaker than linen|
|More luxurious||More casual|
|Pulls moisture away from skin better than cotton||Runs 2nd place for pulling moisture away from skin|
|Linen grown in USA is not GMO||Most cotton grown in USA is GMO 2|
|Ancient fabric of royalty and elite||Newer fabric based on genetic engineering practices|
|Makes a statement of natural class||Makes a statement of commonness|
|More expensive||Less expensive (unless organic)|
What’s linen thread?
Linen thread is a natural thread that’s made from the fibers of the flax plant. The long fibers that grow in the middle of the flax stalks are considered pure linen. The outer husks of the stalks are stripped off and the inner fibers are cleaned, combed, and spooled as thread for sewing or fabric-making.
Does linen need to be hand washed?
It’s important to always follow the care tag’s instructions on your linen item. Not all linen is the same. Different weaves and designs may require unique laundering instructions. Reading the tag is essential for the protection and proper care of your linen.
How does linen age?
Linen is one of the oldest fabrics in the world. It’s historically known for its excellent preservation characteristics. Ancient mummies were wrapped in linen and many have impressively endured the test of time.
With proper care and storage, linen can last a very long time. If the care tag’s instructions are carefully followed, the item should last longer.
History has shown us that linen garments can survive for thousands of years. Flax fiber ages very well and is prized for being extremely durable.
It’s definitely possible that a linen garment can survive through many generations if cared for properly.
Does linen keep you cool? Does clothing affect body temperature?
A study from The Institute of Natural Fibres in Poland tested the temperature differences between linen and a polyester shirt on a person. The linen shirt had lower temperatures than the polyester shirt. It was lower at rest and when the person was moving. 3
Lower temperature will feel cooler on the body.
Many people love to wear linen in the summer because it’s known to keep them cooler. This is due to the fabric’s high breathability factor.
Is linen anti-static?
Yes. Linen doesn’t accumulate static electricity the way polyester does. Linen is one of the most cling-free fabrics out there.
A scientific study revealed that a polyester shirt accumulated a high amount of electrostatic charge. The linen shirt didn’t accumulate any electrostatic charge. 3
Many people love to wear linen because it doesn’t cling. It flows well with body movement and is super comfortable in a loose-fitting style.
Does clothing affect behavior?
A study revealed that human muscle activity changed when it was covered with polyester fabric. There was no change in muscle activity when covered with linen. 4
The muscles actually fired in a different way when they were covered with the synthetic fabric polyester. The natural fabric of linen didn’t change the way the muscle fired.
A scientific review stated that static electric fields can cause effects on the body through changes in the way electric charges are distributed over the body’s surface. 7
The static field from clothing is extremely close to the body at all times. We’re exposed to this field for many hours at a time (as long as we have clothing on).
The potential concerns regarding the effects of wearing fabric with a higher static voltage (such as polyester) are:
- The fabric is worn long-term (many hours, days, even years at a time).
- The static field is in direct contact with the body at all times (no distance from the field).
It would be an interesting study to measure how a person feels after wearing 100% organic linen for 1 month compared to 100% polyester for 1 month. A study could measure things such as:
- self-reported energy levels tracked throughout the day
- quality of sleep
- mental clarity
- immune function
- general blood labs
- levels of motivation
- human electromagnetic field changes
Unfortunately, this study hasn’t been performed yet. It would be a great article to get funded and published. Calling all scientists!
Most people don’t consider the possibility that the fabric they wear may have an effect on their energy field and well-being. We just don’t know yet. More data needs to be provided.
Personally, I have much more energy when I wear 100% linen as compared to synthetic fibers. I also don’t get as tired later in the day and think better when linen is in direct contact with my body. Many people would say this is a placebo effect. Bring the science on! We’re still very young in our scientific understanding of how fabric affects the long-term energy field and health of a human being.
According to ancient literature, God told the priests to wear linen under their clothes from the waist down in order to avoid death. 5
They were also told to wear linen clothing when they entered the gates of the inner temple court (even linen turbans). Wool was not to be worn. 6
We know that wool carries a high surface static voltage, much like polyester.
Advanced spiritual practices, such as the scientific method of Kriya Yoga, are known to generate high amounts of electromagnetism and charge within the human body.
Wearing linen may help prevent the discharge of accumulated electrostatic energy from the body. Perhaps that’s why God gave specific fabric instructions to the priests.
Natural linen is both an ancient and modern fabric loved by historians and fashionistas alike. Prized for its light, breathable, durable, and anti-static qualities, it’s the fabric favorite for many.
There’s a huge list of linen items that can be enjoyed at home, in the workplace, and in high-fashion.
Natural linen is becoming the new cotton as people become more socially responsible, cleaner, and concerned for the environment.
There are so many characteristics that are good about linen, often outweighing the benefits of cotton by a long stretch.
Linen is a natural flax fiber that’s sustainable and good for summer wear.
To ensure purity and quality in linen, verify that it’s organic, GOTS-certified, grown in Europe, and manufactured in Europe.
Linen has the rare ability to be flattering in both casual and formal attire situations. That’s hard to pull off for a lot of other fabrics. Not only is it down-to-earth and approachable, it also looks classy and refined.
Touching natural linen takes us back to ancient times and gives a sense of connection with nature. It’s earthy, grounded, modern, clean, smart, and the wave of an inspired fashion future.
- For more on natural fabrics, here’s an article on natural clothing (click for page on this website).
1. Global Organic Textile Standard. THE STANDARD: General Description. Global-Standard.org. Last updated: March 19, 2020. Available at: https://www.global-standard.org/the-standard/general-description.html. Accessed September 7, 2020.
2. United States Department of Agriculture. Recent Trends in GE Adoption. www.ers.usda.gov. Last updated: July 17, 2020. Available at: https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx. Accessed September 7, 2020.
3. Zimniewska M, Michalak M, Krucińska I, Wiecek B. Electrostatical and Thermal Properties of the Surface of Clothing Made from Flax and Polyester Fibres. Fibres & Textiles in Eastern Europe. 2003; 11, No.2 (41): 55-57. [Google Scholar]
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5. The Holy Bible. Exodus 28:42-43. Available at: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus%2028:42-43&version=NIV. Accessed September 10, 2020.
6. The Holy Bible. Ezekiel 44:17-18. Available at: https://biblehub.com/context/ezekiel/44-17.htm. Accessed September 10, 2020.
7. Petri AK, Schmiedchen K, Stunder D, Dechent D, Kraus T, Bailey WH, Driessen S. Biological effects of exposure to static electric fields in humans and vertebrates: a systematic review. Environ Health. 2017; 16:41. [PMC free article]