About Organic Linen
Linen is very easy to grow, but harvesting and extracting the fiber and making yarn for weaving is still best done manually, unlike cotton where machines replaced most manual labor. The flax plants are pulled by hand, for the longest fibers running all along the stem from bottom to top.
After pulling, retting is the process that separates the fiber from the stalk. To be organic, it has to be done by leaving the flax on the fields to rott the stalk by repeated dew and sunshine; or by steam inside. Both is much slower than chemical processes for conventional linen. After that, it is all beating, breaking, combing - no chemicals involved at all.
Conventional linen production uses harmful chemicals at two occasions. First, linen is easily out-competed by weeds, and conventional linen growers resort to pesticides as the most cost-efficient solution. Second, after harvest, separation of fiber from the soft stalk material is again done cheapest by bathing it in harsh acids. In contrast, organic linen fabric is made from materials that are not exposed to harsh chemicals or pesticides.
Organic linen is hypoallergenic, which means that people with allergies or sensitive skin will not need to worry about having an allergic reaction when touching the fabric. Aside from health reasons, consumers often prefer linen for sheets and sleepwear, because its hollow stem efficiently wicks away moisture at night. In addition to this direct health benefit to the consumer, organic also benefits the environment, and usually adheres to fair-trade practices. Linen is the only natural fiber used for internal sutures in a surgical setting. High complementarity between human and flax stem cells allow the human cell to completely dissolve a flax cell.
Since ancient times, the growing and use of linen is a deep tradition in human cultures. It is written in the Bible that Adam and Eve as well as the Angels in Heaven wore linen; there is scientific evidence of nets and twines made of linen used around Swiss lakes 8,000 BC. Egyptian Pharaohs wore linen, and wrapped their mummies in linen that was found to be completely intact when the tombs were opened in our times. Larger scale production began in Egypt, spread to England and Ireland, then France and the rest of the western world.
Its importance was diminished only by the advent of cheap cotton, grown in the southern States, using cotton ginny and fossil fuels. In modern times, in addition to labor-saving processing, cotton benefits from huge public subsidies, rendering linen and hemp uncompetitive for the lower and mass-production end of the market. Linen remains the fiber of choice for those who value the tremendous health and ecological advantages of linen, as well as its unique comfort and texture. Even the finest cotton cannot match the luxurious feeling that a night in a bed made with Irish linen provides; or the light and cooling feeling of linen on the skin on a hot day.
Flax is the strongest vegetable fiber known; because of its strength and durability, many money bills including the US Dollar contain flax. Clothing of flax is extremely durable and ages well.
The hollow core of flax fiber makes linen fabric light and cooling. Wearing linen, you perspire much less than in cotton or wool, and the skin is a few degrees cooler. Flax is hypoallergenic and anti-inflammatory; its excellent breathability and moisture-wicking is beneficial when worn as undergarment, especially for people with yeast-infections and menopausal women suffering under hot-flashes. By lessening heat buildup, it also increases male fertility because sperm is very sensitive to heat.
Linen protects against harmful electromagnetic frequencies such as WiFi and cell-phone signals. Resistant to fungus and bacteria, flax is found to be an effective barrier to some diseases, and suppresses skin ailments like rashes and ekzemas.
Flax seed/linseed oils contain essential omega acids.
Linen consumes only 1/4 of the water of a cotton crop; and it needs no fertilizers at all. In fact, it does better on poor soils. Organic linen is grown and processed without chemical herbicides and pesticides, protecting the farmers, the factory workers, the end consumer, and the eco-system from those neurotoxins and cancer-causing substances.
How to Care for Fine Linen: Washing - Drying - Ironing - Stains
Linen cared for properly will have a long and elegant life. It launders beautifully getting softer with each wash. It has strong fibers that can be woven into an extremely lightweight fabric yet it remains durable.
Linen can be either hand washed or machine-washed on the gentle cycle. Either way your linens will become softer, more absorbent and acquire a beautiful sheen. Place handkerchiefs and smaller items or delicate and embroidered linens in a lingerie bag. Use a gentle detergent or soap when laundering linens. If you are using soap it is best if you have soft water. Hard water and soap can make your linens dull and dingy. Cool to warm water is recommended for white linens. Wash ecru and colored linens in cool water. Always treat stains as soon as possible. Stains that have been allowed to dry are more resistant to removal and may even be impossible to remove at a later date. Use oxygen-type bleaches for white linen. Chlorine bleaches can cause yellowing.
Linen can be laid out flat to dry in the sun, which will help kill bacteria. Linen fibers are naturally resistant to bacteria. You can dry them wrapped in a terry towel. They can be put in a dryer. Whichever method you choose to dry your linens make sure they are removed from the dryer or brought in fairly damp.
Always iron linen that has not been allowed to completely dry. It is just about impossible to iron even if you sprinkle or try and use a steam iron. If you are unable to iron your linens within a day or two let them dry, then soak and let them sit for several hours or overnight to let the water penetrate into the fiber core. Damask cloths are best ironed on the reverse then the right side to bring out the sheen. Fancy embroidered linens are best ironed on the backside with a towel between the linen and the ironing board. Dark linens are also best ironed on the wrong side.
Speed is the surest way to prevent a potential stain. But in the event you do have a stain to deal with here some methods that may be helpful.
Red wine - pour sparkling water and rub.
Blood - rinse immediately in cold water.
Wax from candles - put linen in the freezer scrape off the majority of the wax and sandwich the wax between two paper towels and iron the residue. Colored candle wax may leave a stain.
Grease stains can be rubbed with ammonia. Ink - soak in milk or rub the spot with a soap and ammonia mixture.
Fruit, tea and coffee - rub with white vinegar and ammonia.
How to Wash White Linens Without Bleach
1. GET A 3% SOLUTION OF PEROXIDE. This is the type of peroxide that is sold in your grocery store or pharmacy.
2. ADD 1 CUP OF PEROXIDE TO YOUR WASH. Just pour it in the way you would normally use bleach.
3. RUN YOUR WASHING MACHINE. Use whatever machine cycle is recommended on the labels of the clothing/linens you are washing.