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The Linen Towel – Strength, Absorbency and a Storied Past

A linen towel is no ordinary towel.

Linen Towels and The Rich History of Linen

When you purchase a linen towel you’re getting so much more than just an absorbent piece of fabric. You’re purchasing a textile that has a rich history of craftsmanship and usage. Linen is one of the oldest fabrics, with its roots dating back thousands of years.

linen towel

The use of linen in ancient Egypt is well documented.  The body of Ramses II was wrapped in linen that was found to be perfectly preserved when his tomb was opened more than 3000 years after his death.  He wasn’t the only Pharaoh to incorporate linen into his burial. The tomb of King Tut was decorated with linen curtains. Amazingly they were in perfect condition when archeologists discovered his resting place.

The Egyptians weren’t the only people to master the art of weaving flax into linen.  Plutarch records that linen garments were worn by the priests of Isis.  And even the Bible mentions its use by the Israelites. The Phoenicians created a thriving textile industry and would be the ones to introduce the art of linen weaving to the Irish, who would become known for the quality of their linens.

Why Linen Towels Are Popular… It’s the Extraordinary Fabric

Creating linen is quite a labor intensive process.  Made from flax, the finished product is very valuable.  The flax must be harvested by hand in order to ensure the fibers are long enough to be useful. Once the flax is pulled up by the root, the seeds are winnowed out. The seedless stalks are then ready to have the fibers loosened by a process that’s called retting. During retting, the pectin is decomposed, which will then allow the stalks to be separated. Once the woody parts of the stalk are removed, the fibers are accessible. The fibers are processed and spun into yarn or woven into the fabric called linen.  Once the linen is woven it can be dyed, bleached or even stamped with decorative prints.

Much of the modern linen that’s produced is made into clothing. Because linen is a natural fabric, it breaths and makes excellent clothes for hot weather climates and summer wear.  Linen sheets are another popular use of the textile. Being a good conductor of heat linen sheets will actually help keep you cooler on a hot night.

A Linen Towel Is Stronger Than Cotton and Gets Better With Use

Linen is highly absorbent, making a linen towel high on the list of bathroom luxury items. This fabric can actually absorb more than 20 percent of its own weight before it will begin to feel damp. It’s also one of the strongest natural fabrics, almost 3 times stronger than cotton.  This helps it withstand the frequent washings that bathroom towels require. The more you wash a linen towel, the softer and more lint free it will become. It’s important to remember that bleach can damage linen, so the best way to safely clean, deodorize and sanitize linen towels  is with a gentle detergent on your machine’s hottest setting.

The next time you consider what type of towels to buy, remember that a linen towel is not only durable and absorbent, it’s made from a fabric favored by kings.

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