Catherine of Crochet Bee has been kind enough to share with us some amazing "tricks of the trade" for cleaning vintage linens. Be sure to visit part one of this series for even more helpful tricks.
Lemon Juice and Salt
Usually if nothing else works, this will do it for me when cleaning white fabric. I first dampen the fabric and then wet the stain with fresh lemon juice, cover the area with table salt. Lay your fabric in the sun. You have to keep the lemon juice wet. The material will dry fast so be attentive. Sometimes you will see the salt take up the stain. This can be a long process, but it usually does the trick. Sometimes you will see yellow spots left from the lemon juice. Hand washing in your normal detergent will take care of that. Try and keep your items away from birds. I have had tiny doilies carried off into nests and then there are the droppings.
Linens Cleaning Formula.
Mix equal parts 20 Mule Team Borax, Biz and liquid detergent with color safe bleach. Use hot water and soak the fabric for five or six hours. Rinse well and repeat the soaking if necessary with fresh water. When the spots are gone, rinse well till the water is clear. Do not wring or twist. Lay flat or hang to dry. Use plastic clothes pins as wooden pins can stain your fabric. Heat in machine dryers will damage vintage linens. Doilies can be placed on a towel, shaped to the original size and air dried. I pin my doilies to the towel to help keep the shape.
Ironing and Starch
Iron your linens while they are damp. Buy the best iron you can afford. A heavy iron saves time and work. Usually I don`t get my linens off the clothes line while they are damp. I dampen them again, roll up, put them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator or the freezer. When it`s time to iron, I use steam on the cotton or linen setting. I don`t spray my linens as I iron because I tend to scorch them. Spray starch is a nice finishing touch. Spray sizing makes your linens look extra gorgeous. Don`t store starched linens because bugs love`em!
This cleaning business can be tedious, but it`s worth the time. These cleaning steps have worked for me, but there are the stains that will never come out. Just enjoy the linens anyway. You are most likely the only one who knows the stain is there.
That's it for this series of cleaning vintage linens. If you love the aprons featured and the information provided, head over to Catherine's shop Crochet Bee for a huge selection of vintage aprons and more.