How to Clean Linen Chairs

Are you tired of seeing your once beautiful and vibrant linen chairs become dull, dirty, and uninviting? Keeping your linen chairs clean can be challenging, whether it’s from everyday use or a spill.

How to Clean Linen Chairs

Linen chairs add a touch of elegance and sophistication to any room, but keeping them clean can be a challenge. Over time, dust, spills, and general use can mar their beauty, leaving you puzzled about the best way to restore their original luster without causing damage. This guide is designed to demystify the process of cleaning linen upholstery, ensuring your chairs remain a cherished feature of your home for years to come.

Whether you’re dealing with light soiling or stubborn stains, our step-by-step instructions on how to clean linen chairs will help you achieve spotless and fresh-looking linen chairs using safe and effective cleaning methods.

What are the Benefits of Linen Upholstery?

Linen upholstery is made from the fibers of the flax plant, a durable and natural material that has been used for thousands of years. Linen chairs have many benefits, including:

  • Soft and Comfortable: Linen fabric is soft to the touch, making it a comfortable choice for seating.
  • Breathable: The natural fibers in linen allow for air circulation, keeping you cool and comfortable.
  • Eco-friendly: Flax is a sustainable crop requiring minimal water and pesticides to grow, making linen a more environmentally friendly option than other upholstery materials.
  • Durable: Linen fibers are strong and can withstand regular use without showing signs of wear and tear.
  • Versatile: Linen upholstery comes in various colors and patterns, making it easy to match with any home decor.
  • Easy to Clean: With the right techniques, linen chairs can be easily cleaned without damaging the fabric.

Once you’ve invested in a linen chair, it’s important to maintain its beauty and functionality through proper cleaning and maintenance.

What Will You Need?

Begin to Clean Your Linen Chairs

Before you begin to clean your linen chairs, make sure you have the following items on hand:

  • Vacuum cleaner with upholstery attachment
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Mild detergent or soap
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Absorbent towels or cloths

Once you have these items, you can start cleaning your linen chairs.

10 Easy Steps on How to Clean Linen Chairs

Step 1. Vacuum the Chair:

Start by removing loose dirt and dust from the chair. Use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner to gently vacuum the linen fabric. Be sure to cover all chair surfaces, including the back, arms, seat, and any crevices where dirt might accumulate.

Step 2. Spot Cleaning Stains:

Apply a mixture of mild detergent and water for any visible stains on your linen chairs. Take a soft cloth and lightly dab the solution onto the stain, being careful not to rub too vigorously as this could damage the fibers.

For tougher stains, a mixture of white vinegar and water can be used in a similar manner. After treating the stain, blot the area gently with a dry, absorbent towel to remove excess moisture. Always test any cleaning solution on an inconspicuous chair area first to ensure it does not cause discoloration or damage.

Mixture of White Vinegar and Water

Step 3. Gentle Brushing:

Once you’ve addressed specific stains, it’s time to brush gently. Using a soft-bristled brush, lightly sweep across the entire linen surface. This step helps to dislodge any particles that have clung to the fibers but were not picked up by vacuuming. Move the brush in one direction to avoid damaging the fabric, and ensure you’re lifting the dirt away rather than pushing it further into the material.

Step 4. Prepare Cleaning Solution:

Mix a mild detergent solution with lukewarm water to prepare for a more thorough cleaning. It’s essential to use a gentle detergent to prevent damaging the linen fabric.

Ensure the water is not too hot, as extreme temperatures can shrink or warp natural fibers. Stir the solution until it’s well mixed and slightly bubbly. This mixture will be used in the next steps to clean the linen upholstery more comprehensively, ensuring the removal of any lingering dirt or stains without harming the material.

Step 5. Lightly Sponge the Chair:

Dip a soft sponge into the cleaning solution you prepared earlier, wringing it out well so it’s damp but not soaking wet. Gently sponge the entire surface of the chair, paying special attention to areas that receive high contact, such as the seat and armrests.

Potentially Damage the Upholstery

It’s crucial to work in sections and not oversaturate any part of the chair, as too much water can penetrate the fibers and potentially damage the upholstery. After sponging, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe over the chair, removing any soap residue.

Step 6. Dry the Chair:

After cleaning, it’s important to dry your linen chairs thoroughly to prevent moisture from remaining in the fibers, which could lead to mildew or odors. Gently blot the damp areas with absorbent towels to remove as much moisture as possible.

Then, if weather permits, allow the chair to air-dry in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight, which can cause the linen fabric to fade. Avoid using a hair dryer or other direct heat sources, as this can shrink or damage the fabric.

Step 7. Apply Fabric Protector (Optional):

Once your linen chair is completely dry, you might consider applying a fabric protector to help repel future stains and spills. Several fabric protector products are available that are safe for use on linen upholstery.

Be sure to select a protector that is specifically designed for natural fibers and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. This step is optional but can be a wise investment to prolong the beauty and durability of your linen chairs. Apply the protector evenly across the fabric’s surface, ensuring full coverage. Allow the chair to dry completely before using it again.

Step 8. Regular Maintenance:

For long-lasting enjoyment of your linen chairs, incorporate regular maintenance into your routine. Weekly vacuuming with the upholstery attachment can prevent dirt from embedding into the fibers, preserving the fabric’s appearance and texture.

Vacuuming With the Upholstery Attachment

Promptly addressing spills by blotting them with a clean, dry cloth can also mitigate staining. Additionally, rotate the chairs if they are exposed to sunlight to ensure even fading and extend the fabric’s vibrancy. Adhering to a maintenance schedule keeps your linen chairs looking their best and prolongs their lifespan, making your investment worthwhile.

Step 9. Fluffing and Reshaping Cushions:

Periodically, take the time to fluff and reshape the cushions of your linen chairs if they are removable. This step is crucial for maintaining the chair’s aesthetic appeal and comfort level. Cushion fillings tend to compress over time, especially with regular use. Remove the cushions and pat them vigorously on all sides to counteract this.

This action helps redistribute the filling evenly, eliminating lumps or flat spots. If the covers are removable, you might also consider laundering them according to the manufacturer’s instructions or cleaning them professionally. Once everything is dry, replace the cushions and covers, ensuring they are snug and fit well. This maintenance step keeps your chairs looking inviting and plush, ensuring they always offer the best support and comfort.

Step 10. Periodic Professional Cleaning: 

Even with regular maintenance and careful use, periodically enlisting professional cleaning services for your linen chairs is advisable. Professional cleaners can access more sophisticated cleaning tools and solutions that are not typically available to the average homeowner. They can perform a deep clean that removes entrenched dirt, allergens, and potential microorganisms, keeping your linen upholstery pristine.

It’s recommended to schedule professional cleaning annually, but this can vary depending on usage and the presence of children or pets. Remember, investing in professional cleaning can significantly extend the life and appearance of your linen chairs, making them a valuable addition to your maintenance routine.

By following these ten steps for cleaning and maintaining your linen chairs, you can keep them looking beautiful and comfortable for years to come.

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

Using Gentle Cleaning Solutions
  1. Spot Cleaning for Immediate Attention: For spills and stains, immediate action can prevent long-term damage. Use a clean, damp cloth to blot—never rub—the affected area. A solution of mild dish soap and water can be used carefully for tougher stains.
  2. Vacuum Regularly: Incorporate vacuuming into your cleaning routine to remove surface dust and prevent buildup. Use a soft brush attachment to avoid damaging the linen fabric.
  3. Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Stick to using gentle cleaning solutions specifically designed for linen fabric. Harsh chemicals can degrade the fibers over time, leading to wear and damage.
  4. Test Cleaning Products: Before applying any cleaning agent to your linen chairs, always perform a spot test in an inconspicuous area. This ensures the product won’t cause discoloration or damage to the fabric.
  5. Professional Help for Deep Cleaning: For deep stains or to refresh the fabric overall, consider seeking professional cleaning services. Experts can ensure safe and thorough cleaning without damaging your linen chairs.

With these additional tips and tricks, you can maintain the cleanliness and longevity of your linen chairs.

5 Things You Should Avoid

  1. Avoid Using Bleach: Bleach is too harsh for linen fabric and can cause irreversible discoloration or even weaken the fibers. Stick to mild detergents for cleaning.
  2. Do Not Over-Wet the Fabric: When cleaning linen chairs, using too much water can lead to prolonged drying times, which might result in mildew growth. Use minimal moisture and ensure good air circulation for drying.
  3. Steer Clear of Direct Heat: Avoid using high-heat drying methods, such as hairdryers or placing your linen chairs directly in sunlight, as it can cause the fabric to shrink or fade.
  4. Resist the Urge to Rub Stains: Rubbing stains can work the dirt deeper into the fibers, making them harder to remove. It’s best to gently blot stains instead.
  5. Skip the DIY Deep Cleaning Gadgets: While using a steam cleaner or other home cleaning gadgets might be tempting, improper usage can result in water damage or shrinkage. Professionals who understand how to care for linen are your best bet for deep cleaning.
Rubbing Stains Can Work the Dirt Deeper

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure the longevity and quality of your linen chairs.

Some Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can Linen Be Steam Cleaned?

Yes, linen can be steam cleaned, but it is important to take precautions. While steam cleaning can effectively remove dirt and stains, excessive heat or moisture can damage the fabric. Using low heat and minimal moisture when steam cleaning linen chairs is essential.

Additionally, it’s best to leave this task to professionals who have experience handling linen fabric. They will know the correct temperature and pressure settings to use for steam cleaning without damaging the fabric.

Steam cleaning can be a great way to refresh and deep clean your linen chairs, but it’s important to do it carefully and with the right equipment.  So, consider hiring professionals for this task.

2. What Can Damage Linen Fabric?

While linen is a durable and strong fabric, certain things can damage it over time. Some common factors that can cause damage to linen include:

  • Harsh Chemicals:  As mentioned before, harsh chemicals can weaken and degrade the fibers of linen fabric, leading to wear and damage.
  • Sunlight: Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause the fabric to fade or weaken over time.
  • Heat: High heat can cause shrinkage in linen fabric, making it difficult to fit back onto chairs or causing uneven stretching.
  • Moisture: Excessive moisture from spills or cleaning methods can lead to mildew growth and weaken the fabric.

By avoiding these factors and following proper care instructions, you can maintain the quality of your linen chairs.  Keep them away from direct sunlight and use gentle cleaning solutions for best results.

3. How Can You Unshrink Linen?

If your linen chairs have accidentally shrunk, don’t worry! There are a few methods that can help you unshrink the fabric:

  • Soak in Warm Water: Fill a bathtub or bucket with lukewarm water and soak the shrunken linen chairs for 30 minutes. Then, gently stretch the fabric back to its original shape before air drying.
  • Use a Fabric Relaxer: Specific fabric relaxers are available that can help stretch out the fibers and unshrink linen. Follow the instructions carefully.
  • Iron With a Damp Cloth: Place a damp cloth over the bony area and gently iron with low heat. The steam will help to loosen up the fibers, allowing you to reshape them.

If all else fails, consider taking your linen chairs to a professional with experience working with linen fabric. They may have specialized methods or equipment that can help to unshrink the fabric without causing any further damage.  Remember that prevention is always better than fixing shrinkage after it has occurred, so follow proper care instructions and avoid heat when possible.

Taking Your Linen Chairs to a Professional

4. Does Linen Need to Be Ironed?

It depends on your personal preference and the look you want for your linen chairs. Some people prefer linen’s crisp, ironed look, while others prefer a more relaxed, natural texture.

If you do choose to iron your linen chairs, here are some tips:

  • Use Low Heat: Ironing with high heat can cause damage to the fabric, so always use a low heat setting.
  • Iron While Damp: It’s best to iron linen when it is slightly damp. This will make the process easier and help to prevent any damage or scorching.
  • Start From the Center: Begin ironing from the center of the fabric and work your way outwards to avoid creating creases or wrinkles.
  • Use a Pressing Cloth: If your linen chairs have any delicate details or embroidery, use a pressing cloth to protect them while ironing.
  • Hang After Ironing: Hang your linen chairs immediately after ironing to prevent wrinkles from forming.

Whether you iron your linen chairs or not, it’s essential to properly care for and maintain the fabric to ensure its longevity.  With proper care, your linen chairs can last for many years and provide a comfortable and stylish seating option in your home. 

5. Why is Linen So Wrinkly?

Linen is a natural fiber that is made from flax, a plant with long and slender fibers. These fibers are strong but also have a slight stiffness to them, which contributes to the wrinkling of linen fabric. Additionally, during manufacturing, linen is not treated with chemicals or resins like other fabrics, making it more prone to wrinkles.

However, this natural wrinkling is part of linen’s charm and character. It adds to the relaxed, effortless look that makes linen a popular choice for home decor. If you do want to reduce wrinkles in your linen chairs, you can choose a blend of fabrics or opt for a lower-weight linen fabric, which tends to wrinkle less.

Overall, embracing the natural crinkles and wrinkles of linen can be a part of its beauty and uniqueness.


How to clean linen chairs requires attention to detail and a gentle hand. From avoiding harsh chemicals to careful ironing practices, ensuring the longevity and appearance of your linen furniture involves specific steps.

By understanding the characteristics of linen, such as its tendency to wrinkle and be damaged by excessive heat or moisture, you can adopt cleaning and care practices that protect your investment.

Whether you opt for professional steam cleaning, deal with shrinkage, or decide on the appearance you prefer, it’s clear that proper linen care enhances the fabric’s durability and natural beauty. Remember, the key to keeping linen chairs pristine is regular, gentle care and prompt attention to spills and stains.

With these guidelines, your linen chairs can remain a cherished part of your home’s decor for years to come.

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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