Do you have a stash of linens you’ve inherited from your grandmother? Or perhaps you can’t walk by vintage tablecloths at an estate sale without your wallet flying open. No matter how you may have acquired your collection of textiles — be it lace, tablecloths, chenille bedspreads, quilts, bark cloth or fabric remnants — proper care is essential to preserve these heirlooms for generations to come.
It’s rare to find older textiles in perfect condition. Most have issues that arise from how they’ve been used and stored over the years. But don’t fret; many problem areas can be remedied with a little T.L.C.
|I always keep BIZ on hand to wrestle stubborn stains out of vintage linens.|
Delicate pieces, like lace or quilts, can be hand-washed in cold water with a mild cleanser like Linen Wash. Sturdy items, such as cotton tablecloths, chenille, or bark cloth, can usually go into the washing machine. Stubborn stains or yellowing can be addressed with a pre-soak in an oxygen bleach product like BIZ (my favorite) or OxiClean.
|Vintage Gray Polka Dot Tablecloth Bedecked with Red Posies by linenslaceandlattes|
To soak, fill a large basin with very hot water and BIZ. Most vintage cotton pieces are colorfast and can soak together, but if an item has never been washed, its colors may run, so test it first. Soak the textiles until the water turns yellow. Check if the stains have lifted. If not, drain and refill with more hot water and BIZ for additional soaking. This may take a few hours or even all day, depending on the stains. Keep changing the water when necessary. When done, remove items and gently press the water out. (Never wring!) Sturdy textiles can go in the washing machine on a delicate cold-water setting and into the dryer. More fragile pieces should be rinsed out by hand and laid flat on cotton toweling to air dry. Items can be ironed, but never use starch; its cellulose base can attract bugs.
|Darling Hand Embroidered Floral Linen Cocktail Napkins Set of Four by jenscloset|
|Shabby Quilted Strips Bag by suchandsort|
Written by Susan Borgen and reprinted with permission from Interweave Press/Studios Magazine.