How to remove stains from linen fabric


Linen, as you know by now, is not just a fabric- it is a luxurious natural fabric with plenty of benefits. It is important to know how to care for linen, printed linen as well, to keep it in a good condition for many years.

First things first: Make sure you know how to wash linen fabrics.

Please refer to our previous blog where we explain the normal care for washing linen fabrics.

Normal care guide for linens

I usually explain care for linen as follows:  treat it similar to what you would do with a pure wool jersey or silk blouse. With utmost care and respect. It is a natural fabric, and it will fade in time even if you handle it with care – it is part of the characteristics of linen and it is what makes it unique.

First wash

Have you heard that you could add salt when washing new jeans to preserve its colour?  Well, add vinegar to your first wash when doing linen fabrics. It helps sets the colour and preserve it from fading prematurely.

Let’s concentrate on those unexpected stains

Your first reaction should always, and no matter what was spilled, to attend to it immediately. 

Scrape off any residue, if possible, and blot it with a clean, dry cloth and DO NOT rub it as it will worsen the situation.

wrong care of fabric

The result of using incorrect care when washing your natural product.

Please do not use any chemical cleaning liquid or stain removal products on printed linen fabric.  It will have a chemical reaction with the inks, and you will ruin your item as some colours may not be completely stable.

Try to cover the stain with cornstarch (Maizena) or baking soda if it is a stain caused by a liquid such as gravy, wine, or sauce. The corn starch should absorb the liquid.  Wash it immediately according to our normal care instructions.


Maizena fabric care

How to use Maizena to remove tough stains such as red wine on natural linen products

White vinegar can also be used instead of cornstarch.  Remove as much excess as you can and dip a clean dry cloth in vinegar and dab it lightly on to the stain.

Do not rub it as it will weaken the fabric’s fibres. Follow normal washing instructions thereafter.

Please do not rub soap (like boerseep) into the fabric as it will weaken the fibres and set the stain in the fabric.  Using hot water will also set the stain, so do use cold water.

before and after washing

Depiction of tea towel before Maizen and after Maizena has been used to remove a wine stain

Try the following remedy if candle wax dripped on your linen item

Put the fabric in your freezer as it will harden the wax (I’ve heard this works for bubble-gum as well).  Or you can put ice on the wax area. It will have the same effect than putting it in a freezer.

Try to lightly scrape off the excess wax once it has hardened.  

Place clean, white paper or clean white kitchen towel on both sides of the stain.  Change it with clean paper as you go along.

Use a hot iron to press on the paper to absorb the wax and oils.

Repeat the process using clean white paper till you are satisfied that it has been removed. 

Follow normal washing instructions for linen fabric.


Important tips to remember:

  • Always check the care instructions on the care label
  • Use cold water – not exceeding 30°C
  • When ironing directly onto linen fabric, please iron on the reverse side
  • Iron linen while it is slightly damp
  • Extremely high temperatures when ironing can scorch the linen fibres which cannot be revived.
  • Dry linen items flat and do not hang in direct sunlight. Do not hang on a washing line, neither use pegs as it will leave marks on the item.
  • Do not soak and do not rub.

 I hope these tips are helpful and that you won’t stress when a guest has a spill-accident.  Remember:  Act fast!

correct way to wash fabrics
wrong way to wash fabric


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