How to identify fabric in damask napkins

I’m wondering whether you can help me identify the fabric used in a set of damask napkins I received. There are no labels! Except a tiny round one that says “Made in Belgium.”

They are ivory damask, wtih very narrow hems. The fabric looks and feels a little glossy and slick for a natural fiber (though I’ve never felt actual linen damask, so I can’t say how it compares). It wrinkles when creased or left folded. I washed one in my front-loading machine, in a load of delicates, in cold water; appeared to do no harm. Then I ironed it, (carefully) while still completely wet, on the cotton/linen setting, which also appeared to do no harm even when I kept increasing the heat to nearly the highest it would go, which made me wonder if they could be linen after all. They are very beautiful, and I would like to know how to care for them properly.

By: N Montesano

One Response to “How to identify fabric in damask napkins”

  1. Judith says:


    From what you describe my guess would be linen. There really isn’t a simple test to identify the difference between cotton and linen unless you have a linen tester. Linen testers can be seen at Amazon.com They cost around $5.

    With a linen tester the fibers are quite different. To give you an idea here are the two fibers under microscope:
    Cotton: http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/techniques/polarized/gallery/pages/cottonsmall.html
    Linen: http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/techniques/polarized/gallery/pages/flaxsmall.html

    As you can see, there is a big difference between the two fibers.