How To Soften A Linen Shirt? 4 Different Methods

Linen shirts are my go-to pair of tops for the summer. They are light, breathable, and they look absolutely fantastic. But one thing that people often tell me is that linen is too stiff, and they don’t know any way in which they can make it softer.

Linen shirts can be made softer. And there are multiple methods that all work fine for this purpose. In this article, I will be breaking down every piece of information that is crucial for you to know if you want your linen shirt to become softer.

So, how to soften linen shirts?

There are four different methods to soften linen shirts:

  1. Washing the linen shirt regularly.
  2. Using baking soda to soften linen.
  3. Using vinegar on the linen shirt.
  4. Usage of dryer balls.

Here is some more information on each of these methods to make your life a little bit easier.

4 Different Ways To Soften Linen

linen shirt

1. Using dryer balls

If you don’t know what are dryer balls, here’s the quick answer.

Dryer balls help prevent laundry from clumping together in the dryer by tumbling between layers and separating fabric. This action allows warm air to circulate better which can even help reduce drying time. The movement of the dryer balls against fabrics can also help fight wrinkles, prevent static and soften clothes.


But we would be using dryer balls a bit differently. We’ll be using them to soften linen shirts.

Just throw a couple of dryer balls along with your shirt into the dryer. Set the heat to low. As soon as the drying cycle is complete, the linen shirt will come out to be much softer than before.

Although some people say that you can use tennis balls instead of dryer balls, I wouldn’t recommend you do that. I tried this and ended up destroying a brand new shirt.

If you don’t already own dryer balls, here are my favorites ones on Amazon:

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2. Washing linen regularly

Just washing your shirt would make it softer over time. And you don’t even need to do anything special, just wash linen the way it was meant to be washed, and you would be fine.

Due to constant exposure to water, the yarns of linen would become a bit more flexible over time. This would make your linen shirt become softer over time. That’s why most people say that linen looks its best when it’s a bit worn-in.

The only con of this method is that it would take a lot of time (and a lot of washes) before your shirt becomes soft to the touch. It’s not like you just put a stiff tailored linen shirt into the wash and it comes out soft like silk.

If you want your shirt to be soft immediately, check out the other methods.

3. Using baking soda

This method is pretty simple and works almost instantaneously. And it uses something that can be found in most homes – baking soda.

Add the usual amount of washing powder or detergent to the washing machine. Throw in your linen shirt. Just before you press start, add half a cup of baking soda to the mix. Wash as usual. Your linen shirt would come out feeling much softer than before.

However, there is a caveat with this method. It doesn’t work on every shirt. In my observation, this method works best with linen blends rather than 100% linen, but do give this one a try. If it doesn’t work, then go for the next method.

4. Using white vinegar

This method also uses a common household item to soften your linen garments – white vinegar.

Take half a cup of white vinegar. Add half a cup of water to it. Now use this solution instead of your detergent when machine-washing the linen shirt. Once the shirt is out and has been dried, wash it again with a regular detergent.

This method will end up giving you a much softer garment, and it works the best on 100% linen.

If you don’t have access to a washing machine, you can simply soak the shirt in a bucket of water. Add a cup of vinegar to the bucket, and then leave it overnight. You would wake up to the luxe feel of soft linen.

Does Linen Get Softer Over Time?

Linen fabric can become softer over time with use and washing, but this process can take some time. The more it is washed and used, the softer it will become.

The process of softening can also be accelerated by adding fabric softener when washing, or by using an enzyme-based pre-treatment before washing.

However, it is also possible that linen fabric can retain its characteristic roughness and crispness, especially if it is not washed frequently or treated properly.

Keep in mind that if you want to maintain the crispness, you can hang dry the linen clothing or use low heat setting when you dry it.

Can Fabric Softener Be Used On Linen?

No, fabric softener should not be used on linen. They don’t tend to work well with linen or its blends, and add an unnecessary chemical residue to the garment.

And some fabric softeners also add a weird scent to your clothes. This may not be a problem if you are wearing the garment after a few days of it being washed, but it’s another thing to keep in mind.

Instead, you should opt for natural ways to soften linen. This would be the more sustainable, inexpensive, and result-oriented approach. Just use any of the four methods mentioned in the previous section, and you would be fine.

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Soften Linen Dresses?

The best way to soften linen dresses is to soak them in a solution of white vinegar and water (1 cup of vinegar for each gallon of water). Leave it overnight, and the dresses would become much softer the next day.

How To Soften Linen Scarves?

Linen scarves can be softened by washing them with baking soda. Just put half a cup of baking soda into the washing machine, add some detergent, and throw in the scarves. The linen of the scarves would become much softer after the washing cycle ends.

Final Remarks

There are four primary ways to soften a linen shirt – Washing it repeatedly, washing it with baking powder, soaking it in vinegar, and using dryer balls.

Each of these methods has been personally tested by me, and they all seem to work great. So just pick and follow the instructions. If it doesn’t work, go to the next one on the list.

If nothing else works, you can take solace in the fact that your shirts are going to become softer over time due to constant washing. This is one method that gives 100% results. So keep faith, and keep washing your linen garments.