Washing softens and brightens linen, and temperatures up to 60° are fine. Any higher and you’ll spoil the fabric. It is remarkably absorbent – capable of taking up to twice its weight before it drips, so don’t cram the machine.
And don’t tumble dry unless you want it creased. Better not to leave it in the washing machine; get it out, straighten it, and hang it up. They say hanging in bright sunlight keeps its whiteness too. A hot iron on damp linen will give you the best finish, unless you like the crumpled look – and linen crumples beautifully.
If you want to be purist and have the time, iron on the wrong side first to get rid of the creases, and then on the right side to enhance its natural sheen.