Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Secrets to Cleaning Vintage Linens

I was busy yesterday, laundering some of my vintage, crocheted doilies and tablecloths.

I'm asked from time to time about the best way to clean vintage linens and though I'm sure many methods exist, these are my secrets for transforming cruddy linens into lovely linens...

For lightly stained or discolored linens I submerge them in water, pour lemon juice over them and liberally sprinkle them with salt.

I hang them in the sun for a few hours, letting the sun, lemon and salt work their magic.

Then I rinse them and hang them to dry and waalah!

My "secret soak" is required for heavily soiled linens.  First, I heat up a few gallons of water on the stove.  I want the water really hot, but not quite boiling.

While the water heats up, I pile the dirties into my favorite galvanized tub (just about any container will do, even a sink)...

...and collect the rest of my supplies:  For each gallon of water, 1 cup of Borax powder and 1 cup Oxyclean powder.

I sprinkle the detergents into my tub, pour the hot water in and mix the water well, using an old wooden spoon, until the soap is well dissolved.  Then I drop in my linens and let them soak for about two days, stirring them a couple of times each day.

Then I rinse my linens.  It normally takes three really good rinses to get out all of the detergent suds but if that doesn't get them all out, I'll add 1 cup of distilled vinegar to 1 gallon of water, swish the linens around a bit and rinse with water a final time.  Lastly, I'll hang them to dry.

Bright, free from discoloration and stains ~ clean!

If you're going to give my methods a try, please take a few minutes to spot test your linens to ensure they won't be affected, after all, many of these vintage linens are quite delicate.

Any of you out in Blogville in need of a generous stash of vintage linens?  I have these to give away for free (you cover the postage please)!

I've laundered most but not all of them.  Many are in pristine condition but some are damaged and should work for your projects.  It's a collection of doilies (most handmade but a few factory), dresser scarves, pot holders, kitchen scrubbers, etc.).  There are probably at least $100 worth of vintage linens here.

If you'd like these, please shoot me an email at Cindy@RetroRevival.Biz and let me know.

Update:  Dani reached out to me first and I'm sending her these goodies ~ I'm sure she'll make very good use of them!

And don't forget about my July blog giveaway ~ these sweet, vintage salt & pepper shakers.

Share a comment on any or all of my July posts and you're automatically entered to win.  Drawing is July 31st.


Peace said...

What a bunch of sweetness! The info, the linens, and you!

The Summer Kitchen Girls said...

Love the tips...especially for the heavily soiled linens...sometimes we just can't get anything out! You're the best Cindy!!

Laura said...

What great information-
even to use on more modern linens.

White Spray Paint

Anonymous said...

Love the lemon juice and salt idea! I've never heard of using salt.

You mean you have left overs even after making that giant runner for wedding??? :)

Any idea how much the shipping would be on those linens?

Betty Lou said...

Amazing, looks like most of them come out like new. Thank you for sharing.

Chicken Wrangler said...

Thanks for the info - I have a few oldies but goodies that need some really good cleaning - will have to stock up on supplies this weekend and give your secret recipe a whirl!

Tammy's in Love said...

WOE! Oxyclean and Borax for two days! That oughta take out ANYTHING! I have used Oxyclean alone for six hours and it takes most stains out; I did have a rust spot in a chenille spread that I couldn't get out, I'll have to try your method!

Old Fashioned Gal said...

This is a great tutorial on how to get those pesky stains out of linens and doilies! I'm so glad you shared!
Hope you're having a great week! :)

Elizabeth and Gary said...

Hi Cindy,
I love this post!!! I am going to try your magic linen wash. I have a few vintage hand made doilies and pillowcase that could use some freshening up. Wow I think you just made the largest table runner! Its really pretty and such a fun idea.
Have a sweet day,Elizabeth

Paula Parrish said...

Hi Cindy,
Great tips on cleaning vintage fabric. ;o)
Smiles, Paula

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Donna said...

Thanks for the info! I have several "family" pieces I need to clean.

donna said...

Thank you so much for sharing your soaking secrets. My girl friend had told me about lemon juice but I did not have good success. I will have try your method.

Cottage Dreaming and Flea Market Wishing said...

wow lemon juice and salt is a great idea.....great linens...wish i had that many! ;)