Caring for Your Linens

Washing your sheets

  • Pre-wash your sheets before using to ‘set the threads’, which helps prevent pilling.
  • Always wash linens in like colors together, and separately from products containing polyester or other synthetics, or those with metal zippers to avoid pilling and abrasion. Meaning: don’t wash your sheets with jeans.
  • Wash sheets in warm water, not hot, on gentle or delicate cycle, and avoid overloading the washer to prevent fiber breakdown from excessive abrasion and agitation. We recommend washing one queen or king sheet at a time with smaller cotton items, such as pillowcases. Always keep washer agitation to a minimum.
  • Never pour detergent directly onto fabric, instead add your sheets after the tub fills and the detergent has already been added.
  • Never use fabric softeners, as they only coat the fibers to make them appear soft and breaks down the fibers.
  • The verdict is in: most detergents simply aren’t gentle enough to use on fine linens. It’s imperative to use a mild “baby” detergent, or one that is non-alkaline and doesn’t contain bleach or brighteners. Unless linens are very soiled, half of the manufacturer’s recommended amount should be used, even with baby detergents. Fiona´s Atelier sells detergents that are specially made for linens and towels, which we are happy to ship to you.
  • Absolutely no bleach allowed, even so-called “safe bleach”, as it will result in premature yellowing and weaken fibers. Also note that some personal care products (such as acne medication and toothpaste containing oxidizing agents) can discolor linens. In these cases, we recommend using white sheets.

Drying your sheets

Here’s where we detour from most manufacturer recommendations:

  • Don’t be fooled: hot dryers weaken, change the nature of, and break cotton fibers, period. Plus, heat causes shrinkage. Shrinkage, in turn, may result in ill-fitting sheets which further stresses the fabric. Stress on the fabric from pulling and tugging will eventually cause holes or rips to appear, or pilling. Also note: most cotton products will still shrink a little, even if preshrunk. This can also occur with items that are dry-cleaned. We always recommend purchasing “oversized” items when feasible to be on the safe side.
  • If you MUST dry your sheets in a dryer, we recommend that you use the lowest heat setting possible, and dry them for no longer than a few minutes, even if they are still wet or damp upon removal. They’re supposed to be! Never, ever let them dry completely. Note: it is in the last minutes of a dryer cycle that fabric overheats and dries out, making it brittle and lifeless over time.

How to iron

  • Iron while sheets are still damp on the reverse side. Use a hot steam setting for cotton, and a hot setting for linen combined with a water spritzer. Iron damask or sateen table and bed linens on the reverse side first, then on the front side to bring out their sheen.
  • For embroidered, lace, or monogrammed linens: iron on the reverse side on top of a terry towel to protect and enable the embellishment to “pop out”.

How to clean bedcovers, duvets and shams

Even if the item is washable, we usually recommend dry cleaning to minimize shrinkage, often a critical component when selecting “top-of-the-bed” linens. But many bedcovers, duvets and shams can be washed safely. However, it is important to note that if the item contains an intricate pattern, like with mate lasses, washing will change the way it looks by “puffing it up” much like a quilt.

  • If you do decide to wash a bedcover, duvet, or sham, wash in warm or cold water, delicate cycle. Line dry or tumble dry without heat in your dryer, and iron and “block” as needed.

Exceptions and additional cleaning tips for linens

  • Dry cleaning. Fiona´s Atelier recommendation is that if a product is made of cotton or linen, it’s preferable to wash it to avoid the wear and tear that comes from using strong chemicals in the dry cleaning process whenever possible. But here’s the but. When shrinkage, pattern distortion, or improper washing could be an issue, we always recommend dry cleaning to protect the integrity of the product.
  • Organic and/or wood fiber sheets. Because wood fiber and other types of sheets that aren’t made from cotton are woven and dyed differently from cotton, extra care must be taken to launder them properly. Using a specially formulated detergent to protect the dyes is absolutely required.
  • Use caution in buying detergents claiming to be formulated for “fine” linens, especially those found at discount chain stores. Customers have reported that these detergents are like using straight bleach!
  • Washing fringed specialty items: Gather the fringes in your hand, bend in half, and secure with a rubber band to keep from getting tangled or damaged.
  • Blankets and throws. Some of our cotton blankets and throws are machine washable, others need to be professionally dry cleaned, such as alpaca, cashmere, and wool. Follow the instructions on the care label. For home washing, be sure your machine is large enough to handle the blanket.

How to store your linens

  • Never store linens in plastic because it will result in yellowing. Natural fibers need to breathe. Cedar chests can also yellow or streak fabrics, although they are safe for storing wool items.
  • For long term storing, we recommend wrapping, or inserting linens in something breathable, such as a cotton or muslin pillowcase, or in acid-free tissue paper, which allows air circulation.
  • Store table linens rolled on cardboard tubes or hung on hangers (without plastic) to prevent crease marks from setting, which can weaken fibers.
  • A special, “Keepsake” box that’s been designed for proper long-term storage of linens may also be used, but should be lined with acid-free tissue paper. Both are available for purchase at Fiona´s Atelier.

Care of Bath Linens

  • Always prewash towels in warm or cool water, separating colors from whites, before using to set the cotton fibers. Dry on medium heat. Note that most towels don’t achieve full absorbency for several washings.
  • Never use chlorine-based bleach, as it weakens fibers. We also discourage the use of a fabric softener because it dramatically decreases absorbency in towels.
  • Bella Linea recommends the use of special detergents designed for bath linens, or using a “baby” detergent to avoid these problems, like with linens. Safe detergents for bath towels can be purchased at Fiona´s Atelier.
  • It’s important to remember that some of the everyday items used at home, such as facial cleansers, creams containing benzoyl peroxide, and even bathroom cleaners can damage a towel if they come in direct contact. Remember to rinse your hands off these products before handling a towel to prevent permanent loss of color. If your towel does come in contact with any of these substances, gently wash with cold water before laundering to minimize the effects.
  • Pulled threads. If you see a pulled loop in your towel, just snip the loop with a pair of sharp scissors. Towels are usually woven, not knitted, so the thread will not run.

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