Muslin Coverlet & Lint
September 16, 2023 9:15 AM   Subscribe

I currently have linen bedding, including the coverlet we use over our duvet. It sheds horribly, all the time, and has for years. Will muslin gauze also be horrible for lint?

My linen coverlet is getting pretty worn and I was looking at some options for replacing it, like this or this.

However, I'm concerned that muslin gauze style fabrics like this will also be a lint extravaganza.

We use a duvet, in a cover, but have always also had another blanket on top of the bed because we have pets - I like to be able to toss something easily in the wash if someone has muddy paws or barfs. So - washability, and in the winter months, go-in-the-dryer-ability are important.

The linen coverlet has always produced a ton of lint in the dryer. When I can line dry it - it still produces a ton of lint, only now it freely roams the bedroom. I do not want another lint nightmare.

I do want a coverlet that is:
  • huge - can hang all the way to the floor for the kitty who likes to play monster under the bed
  • light weight - needs to be able to go easily in the washer and dryer
  • plain and somewhat rustic looking - no patchwork, patterns or bright colors
Which is how I started going down the muslin path - I can see that one of these could meet my requirements! Any experience with these? Any thoughts on other options?
posted by hilaryjade to Shopping (16 answers total)
Muslin gauze can be very unpredictable in the washer, though the reviews on your links seem trustworthy. I use a dry cleaner for all my muslin stuff, which I don't think is a good solution for bedding.

On the other side, I have a linen cover on my duvet with absolutely no problems at all, so maybe you have been unlucky? I bought it in Aldi or something similar, so it is not at all high end.
posted by mumimor at 9:27 AM on September 16

I also have linen bedding, similar to your setup in all respects including the muddy paw shield blanket on top. But mine isn't linty at all, so maybe the problem is your particular linen and it could be worth trying some from a different supplier? Mine is from La Redoute.
posted by Rhedyn at 9:29 AM on September 16

I also am mystified by linen being specially linty — it isn’t IME, and historically took hard scraping to get medical lint. (Inexpensive gauze might be linty because it’s hard to be lightweight and tough simultaneously. In which case, cotton gauze should be at least as good.)
posted by clew at 10:04 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: My bed linens are handmade, with fabric from an online supplier. Here’s the fabric I used for the coverlet. I believe I made these in about 2018. There are two coverlets, and I do wash at least once a week - so each one has been washed about every two weeks.

Sheets, pillowcases and duvet cover were made with a different fabric from the same supplier. Same general wash cycle - same general lint issue.
posted by hilaryjade at 10:12 AM on September 16

I'd definitely recommend trying a different supplier. I would wonder if it was the jacquard weave that was contributing to the issue but if you have the same problem with a different fabric for the sheets then perhaps not. It could be a matter of the quality of the linen they are using, they don't seem to give info about their sources.
posted by Rhedyn at 10:20 AM on September 16 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Historical linen (which might be flax or hemp or nettle) isn’t linty at all, but a lot of modern ‘linen’ (which might be flax or hemp) is processed by chemically breaking it down into short fibers. The process is called cottonization, and it’s intended to make the fibers suitable for processing on equipment optimized for cotton. It also makes for short-lived and shed/pill/lint prone cloth. Basically fast fashion-enshittification of linen for both clothing and household textiles.
posted by janell at 10:45 AM on September 16 [14 favorites]

Honestly I'd start by opening up your washing machine's filter and clearing it out, because yeah, linen should not have lint issues. Also ditch the fabric softener, dryer sheets and everything else in the laundry cycle that isn't the actual laundry detergent - they all work by coating the fibers and lint can definitely attach to that. Try laundry stripping the coverlets and see if that'll work. Because if the issues are in your laundry cycle, any coverlet will behave the same.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:45 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]

janell's comment is really interesting, I had no idea!
Linen from Lithuania is generally seen as very high quality, long fibers, if you need a pointer.
posted by mumimor at 11:00 AM on September 16 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have a muslin blanket from one of your links. I clean out the lint trap every time I dry it, and it was pretty intensely linty for the first couple months but now is no more notably linty than any other cotton item. I clean my lint trap for every load regardless, so it doesn’t fuss me. There is ZERO lint outside of the washing/drying, though
posted by Bottlecap at 1:47 PM on September 16 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have four (yes, it's a small addiction) blankets from Muslin Comfort. I've also got a good friend hooked on them (and she, in turn, got her aunt hooked). I truly can't say enough about these things. First, they are gianormous. Like WAAAAY oversized. I have a queen bed and a full-sized blanket will cover the side of the mattress; the queen blankets hit the floor. They're like being wrapped in the softest, most cozy nest-able cocoon ever. I'm 5'2" so I can wrap it around my head and still have my feet inside.

Yes, the price is eye-watering, but I've only ever gotten the 'perfectly imperfect' ones. I can't say that I can find anything wrong with them. In the beginning, you used to be able to use the 20% discount on the imperfects. They don't permit that anymore (only on the full price ones and they have the coupon all the time). Some of them arrive much softer and fluffier than others, for some reason. They do get softer and softer as you wash them. Do know, however, that because they are big and all cotton, they take a while to dry. And yes, they are linty in the dryer screen, especially brand new, but they don't collect lint on the bed. They definitely collect dog fur. So, select your color choices accordingly! I have dark blue, yellow, dark green, and white blankets.

Seriously. GET THE BLANKET! They have a great return policy, so check them out!
posted by dancinglamb at 1:13 AM on September 17

Response by poster: Thank you, dancinglamb & Bottlecap - good to hear from someone who has this blanket. Good to know that once they are out of the dryer they don’t continue to shed lint - that’s what truly vexes me about the current situation.
posted by hilaryjade at 5:31 AM on September 17

I have linen bedding from IKEA which isn't linty at all - agree that this isn't an inherent problem with linen.
posted by altolinguistic at 12:17 PM on September 17

I have some linen bedding that is said to be from Lithuania and it very linty in the dryer, but no longer linty in general. This is likely a quality issue, and not a linen issue.

Very linty - as linty as new cotton towels or fluffy bathmats.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:22 PM on September 17

I would be concerned that your linty coverlet is not 100% linen and someone has substituted a blend with another much weaker fibre beside the linen, or possibly the fabric is actually hemp, not flax linen as Janell suggested above. The whole point of linen is that it is made of long fibres which give it its strength and durability. If the cloth is shedding lint, it definitely isn't durable.

If you have any of the scraps left from when you made the coverlet, can you do a burn test? Better yet, can you mount some fibres on slides and look at them under a microscope?

Hemp cloth does badly in the dryer - linen is happy to be boiled and does fine with heat. But hemp fibre quickly starts to weaken when it goes through a dryer. In that respect hemp fibre is a lot like wool. You want to use only a low dryer setting if you use any heat at all.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:34 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]

janell, are there any trade words to look out for to avoid cottonized linen? I am now very suspicious of “softened” and “easy care” linen even if the input was 100% flax fiber.

I suppose the flip side is, mumimor, is there a Lithuanian online seller you can recommend?

(I was just looking at a linen sheet a grandfather of mine patched in a mining camp in the 1930s. I need to patch it too, so I want lightweight but traditional linen to do it with…)
posted by clew at 4:50 PM on September 18

I don’t think so, clew, other than price. The possibilities are line (the long fibers from a foot long to the height of the plant), tow (shorter fibers from processing line/otherwise equivalent in mechanical properties, and cottonized (certainly weaker and I would guess smaller diameter fiber bundles). The line is the spendy good stuff. You will sometimes see tow get namechecked for textiles that are supposed to be, uh, exfoliating. And historically, for their eponymous ropes and short-haired blond tow-headed children. But mostly you’ll just see ‘linen’ on labels unless the line fiber is a selling point.

(FWIW, line hemp is as strong as line flax, both are stronger when wet, neither are elastic, both are a-ok for boiling, but both degrade with dry heat. Cold press and line dry, for real. And they are basically impossible to tell apart once processed into fiber - to distinguish them you have to extract a fiber bundle from the textile or yarn (so it is free to move) then wet it and watch which way it twists as it dries. )
posted by janell at 6:47 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]

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