Enzyme washed or softened linen?

Sleeping on washed linen is so pleasant and comfortable. Stonewashed linen fabric has a special wrinkle and is very soft. But we all know that linen yarn is a fairly harsh raw material and products from it can be initially rough and prickly. It should be said that this prickliness disappears with time; with every wash and use the product becomes softer.

But not everyone is willing to wait patiently; therefore, very often linen fabrics and products are subjected to various additional treatments (for example, softening and enzyme wash) to make the fabric soft and to get the charming “wrinkled effect”.


Comparing the two ways: Softened linen


The prickliness and dryness of the fibers in the finished fabric are eliminated during manufacturing in at least two ways:


Chemical softening: The fabric is exposed to a special chemical compound of high acidity, which destroys the cellulose structure of fiber cells. After that, the fabric is thoroughly washed and dried.


Mechanical softening: The fabric is passed between the shafts of the special softening machine, which breaks the remaining hard fibers in the thread.


Fabrics can be exposed to both chemical and mechanical softening.


Such fabrics:


Have a straight, smooth look


Shrink up to 3%


A significant drawback of the mentioned chemical methods of softening is the short duration of the effect achieved. After several washes, the softeners are washed out of the fiber and the effect is noticeably reduced.

Comparing the two ways: Stonewashed linen


Special treatment - stonewash, enzyme washing, enzyme wash - is a method of treating linen fabric that is rapidly gaining popularity. This technique uses special enzymes of organic origin.

Enzyme treatment works due to the softening of the yarn structure and leaching of hard protein compounds.

The durability of such fabric is significantly reduced compared with untreated fabric, but this does not affect the properties, because the initial strength of linen fabric is extremely high. It should be noted that with such softening the fabric shrinks by 10-15% on all sides.


After the enzyme wash, pure linen fabric:


Becomes softer


Becomes non-shrink


Acquires silky appearance


Gains the signature wrinkled look


Shows soft rounded folds without sharp corners when crushed


Drapery increases by 20-30%

Enzyme washing is recommended for the final finishing of quality linen and half-linen fabrics. It reduces the stiffness and roughness of the fabric by 3.2 times relative to the untreated one, which is comparable to the effect of chemical softeners.

The main difference is the long-term effect that does not change after washing.

The downside of this method is the durability reduction of the fabric - products made from such fabric will be worse in keeping shape. Also the product may change its color after the enzyme wash by becoming less saturated.

Thus, in its essence, both “washed” and “softened” refer to changing of the roughness of raw linen. But these softening technologies are vastly different proving different effects. Washed linen is softer and more malleable than softened linen, and each method has its pros and cons.