July 6, 2011


I know that you have all been on the edge of your seats just waiting for me to post "Top Secret: A Smidgen of Advice (Tip No. 2)". Well here it is. So grab a yummy drink, curl up in your favorite chair, take a cleansing breath, and read on...
October 1947 ♥ Better Homes & Gardens
Ad for Linens 'Cannon Percale Sheets'

Stain Removal:

Example of Linens with
Yellowing Stains on Folds
Quite often you will come across antique or vintage linens that have yellowed along the fold lines. This often happens after years of storage, and those folds being exposed to daily dirt and grime such as dust, nicotine, and other airborne pollutants.
  1. It is always best to rehydrate the fabric prior to working on any stain. The preferred way to accomplish this would be to soak the piece in room temperature water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. If the fabric is heavily soiled or stained, and does not have colored embroidery, then you can mix lukewarm water with a product, such as OxiClean®, and soak it for several hours up to several days. If extended soaking is required, then every-so-often you will need to check the stain, rinse with cool water, mix a fresh solution, and soak again. You can continue to do this until the stain is removed or diminished enough not to detract from the piece. Occasionally you just have to live with a stain, and accept it as a part of the linen's history, a little character.
  3. If you are dealing with a stain such as rust, blood, or any other stain that has a high iron content, you can use a product such as Whink Rust Stain Remover®. Products such as these just take a small amount, and if they are going to work, will work in a very short amount of time.
  4.  NEVER use chlorine bleach, products with bluing agents, or whiteners on any fine linens.
  5.  Sun bleaching fabric was very common during the Victorian era, but modern textile experts feel that process may be too harsh for the oldest and most delicate antique textiles. Remember, the linens were NEW in the Victorian era. You can, however, place the linens in filtered sun for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, but not longer than that.
  6. NEVER wring out old fabrics because it can cause considerable stress to old and delicate fibers.

Vintage Embroidered Table Runner 

General Cleaning and Care:
  1. Always wash delicate linens in cold water, hot water running through older pipes releases the impurities in the pipes which increases the risk of staining or discoloring during the washing cycle.
  2. NEVER use a harsh detergent, such as Tide.
  3. Use a gentle detergent, such as Woolite or Linen Wash by Le Blanc®. Linen Wash® is made especially for vintage, antique, and delicate textiles. Wash on the delicate or hand-wash setting, depending on your washer.
  4. You can dry most linens on the lowest dryer setting, removing while still slightly damp. You don't want to dry linens, antique or otherwise, until they are bone dry because it can cause the fabric to pill or fade. Once you have removed the linen, smooth it out with your hands and fold. Or, if you are planning to use it right away, then follow the tip for ironing below.
  5. NEVER use dryer sheets in the dryer or fabric softener in the washer. Fabric softener prevents the material from absorbing moisture, which will shorten the life of your textile.
  6. If you intend on using the linen right away, then iron while still damp on the lowest setting possible. If a piece is embroidered, then iron it on the reverse side, on top of a towel.
  7. DO NOT iron your antique linens until you are ready to use them.
  8. AVOID extended exposure to sunlight and moonlight to avoid color fading.

Vintage Embroidered Table Runner

  1. Always use acid free archival tissue paper for storing your delicate linens when not in use. It is not safe to store these items in direct contact with wood or painted surfaces, since they are highly acidic.
  2. If you are storing a table cloth, or other large piece, then simply place a piece of acid free tissue paper over a pant clothes hanger, carefully drape the piece over it, add an additional layer of acid free tissue paper over the linen in order to keep dust off, and then store in a closet.
  3. Fold smaller pieces with acid free tissue layered between and amount the folds. If the piece is not used for a year or more, then unfold and change out the tissue.
  4. Pieces that are used/displayed year-round or frequently should be laundered or hand-washed one or more times a year to remove dust and freshen up.
  5. DO NOT store a piece without washing first, since there could be unseen grime such as grease that can lead to staining.
As always, please visit Quirks By Annie on Etsy. I have lots of antique and vintage linens available in my store right now. Enjoy!!!

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