Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cleaning Vintage and Antique Linens- A Tip


Recently, I ordered this bedding from Horchow. I know many of you would have made this, but I'm not a great seamstress! I feel in love with a lace throw that would look great on this, but it was out of my budget. I decided to use a vintage table cloth instead. Of course, it was stained and very dirty.

Have you ever wondered how to clean vintage and antique linens if Oxygen Cleaners and pre-treatments don't work? Over twenty five years ago, an antique linen dealer shared her secret with me. First, soak the linen in Biz overnight or a day or two. The directions are on the box. I found Biz at the grocery store. This above piece has had the Biz treatment.
If Biz doesn't remove the stain you may decide to try this next step. 
I bring the water to a gentle boil, not a rolling boil, then add about 1/2 cup of Cascade for this size pot, a lobster pot. I turn the eye off and test a tiny area of the item. I have determined, from the test, that I want to proceed with this treatment. 
I place the linen in the pot of Cascade water and stir constantly. I keep tongs handy to check the stains and see how the treatment is progressing. Usually, the stains come out quickly. I always rinse the item well in cold water. I never use the washing machine; I do this by hand. I also line dry linens. I have used this treatment very successfully, but some stains may not respond. If you test an area of your piece and decide to proceed, please do so with caution and at your own risk. Only you know your fabric content, size and condition of your item. I am no expert. 
This worked beautifully. For me, this piece was unusable as dirty and stained as it was. I have used this for over twenty five years and my linens are still lovely. 
 This room isn't complete yet, please excuse the pillows and accessories. I just had to share this tip. I use it on napkins and tablecloths at the holidays too.
(Please note this information is deemed to be reliable, but not guaranteed.)
Happy Thanksgiving! 

22 comments:

Dana Bishop said...

Thanks for such great information. I get so frustrated when my vintage linens get stained. What a lovely bed ensemble! The table cloth idea is amazingly creative and resourceful. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Betsy@ coastal-colors said...

Thank you, Dana. I hope this bed doesn't look too funny with a table cloth on it. I have so many vintage linens in boxes. I love them and get to use them so seldom. This tip has worked so well for me. I hope it helps! Thanks for stopping by!

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

That's a great tip, Betsy! Love the bedding.

Happy Thanksgiving! : )

SheilaG @ Plum Doodles said...

Wow, great tip, Betsy! I have some things that I need to try this on. Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, dear friends. ♥

Betsy@ coastal-colors said...

Thanks Kathy and Sheila! This method has worked so well for me; I hope it helps! Thanks for your time in stopping by today! May you and your families have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Anne Boykin said...

Hi Betsy, I've never tried this before but I will. Thank you. I have lots of old linens too. Happy Thanksgiving!

Betsy@ coastal-colors said...

Thanks, Anne! I hope this works well for you too! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Shirley@Housepitality Designs said...

The bedding is gorgeous!…and thanks for the great tip on the stain removal...

Jerri Barnard said...

Thanks so much! Happy new year!

Jerri Barnard said...

Thanks so much! Happy new year!

Krickette Drummond said...

Hi. I have some linens that are over 100 years old that I inherited from my mother. One item in particular is badly stained and I believe it is actual linen. Can I use your method for cleaning linens to take the stain out of this linen tablecloth?

Betsy@ coastal-colors said...

Thank you Shirley and Jerri! I appreciate your kind comments!You're so thoughtful to stop by!

Betsy@ coastal-colors said...

Krickette, I hope you see this. You came up as a "non-reply" in Blogger and I don't have an address to answer you back. I have used this method on many linens. You would need to decide though. I have tested a tiny area, to see how the piece responded, before I put the entire cloth into the water. Perhaps, that might help you decide. Thank you for stopping by!

Debby Taylor said...

I have a huge lace throw, large enough to cover a king size bed, any thoughts how to clean it safely? ?

karen@somewhatquirky said...

Great tip Betsy. Is Biz still sold most places still? I can't remember if I've seen it - I have old brain syndrome!

Betsy@ coastal-colors said...

Debby, you came up as a "non-reply" in Blogger, so there is no way I can personally answer you back. It doesn't give me an address. I am not sure about cleaning something that large. Perhaps, the tub might hold it. I would test a tiny area first with this method. You will have to decide. Thank you for stopping by! Happy New Year!

Krickette Drummond said...

Betsy I did read your answer and thank you. I'm not one to use the computer in these ways. Ha. Even though my hubby is a computer expert. I will try the method you suggested.The tablecloth is really unusable the way it is. It does have some heavy embroidery on it so i will be extra careful! Thanks!

Betsy@ coastal-colors said...

Krickette, I'm so happy you saw the response! I was worried that about how to get in touch with you! I Googled other ways to clean these items and they suggested pre-treatments and Oxygen cleaners first. I have also heard of soaking linens in a Tide, Biz, Gain combination. I have tried lemon juice, salt and sun on stains too. My piece was dirty all over and had very stubborn stains that didn't respond to other methods. My fabric was cotton. I hope this helps!

BarbaraAnn said...

Love this idea. I collect old linens and have 2 pieces I cannot get rust like stains out. I will cut open one of my Cascade pods and try this

Betsy@ coastal-colors said...

Thank you, Barbara Ann. I hope you see this. You came up a "non-reply" in Blogger. Do check out the Hometalk page on Facebook; there are other suggestions too. Thank you for stopping by! Many blessings!

Elizabeth Bleas said...

Your bedroom is beautiful! I love your idea to use the linens as bedclothes! I recently inherited linens from my grandmothers side of the family, and want to make a duvet cover! I do sew, so this will be something to look forward to! I also have the bed that my dad slept in as a young boy, and them me. We are redoing the bedroom. Thank you for his tip..I will use it to clean them all before sewing. Also..if you clean your tub out well, it can be used to clean large pieces of linen...easy to rinse also. Thanks again!

Betsy@ coastal-colors said...

Elizabeth, you idea of a duvet cover sounds fabulous! What a fabulous treasure having the bed both your dad and you slept in as a child! There are many more tips on Hometalk's Facebook page under this feature. If you see this note, stop by there too. You came up as a "non-reply" and I couldn't send you a direct message. Many thanks for stopping by and your kind comment!