Please note, these are only suggestions. If you have a valuable piece, or sentimental piece, I recommend you take it to a professional who cleans antique textiles. Contact me for recommendations. I cannot be held responsible to any damage that might occur or if you are unsuccessful in removing a stain.
Before cleaning a vintage textile, many factors must be considered: fabric type, weight, age and condition. Some vintage linens are delicate with fine lace and handwork, while others are strong. Some vintage linens have seen considerable use while others were stored away unused for generations. If you have a specific problem, contact me, and I may be able to help you with more detailed instructions. DO NOT wash your antique quilt!! See my Quilt Care Page for help with your precious quilts!
Cleaning procedures should be limited to hand washing, soaking and line drying only. Machine washing and drying is not recommended. Soaking and hand washing should be conducted in large basins and recommend that cold to lukewarm water be used. Do not try to clean too many items at once.
I prefer "Perk" (www.twinpines.com) and "Restoration". They are both special soaks for delicate textiles. Perk can be used on silk and taffeta. And your textile can soak for up to a week. Restoration removes yellow age stains like nothing I have seen before, but cannot be used on silk. Be sure to rinse both these products thoroughly…if not, Restoration can lead to brown stains when heated with a very hot iron…it's easily removed with another soak and rinse…but do you really want to bother? Rinse it well the first time.
I tend to stay away from Oxy products…and they should never be used on silk or wool.
If you don't want to invest in a special Textile Wash, try this:
Start with an overnight soak in cold water in a large basin or tub.
Drain it and fill again with cool water and Woolite works.
Gently agitate with your hands, no scrubbing!
Drain again and rinse several times in cool water.
Gently pat to remove some of the excess water, do not ring or handle in a harsh manner, let it drip! Hang dry on a line or a drying rack.
If the textile is easily distorted, like a lace doily or tablecloth, lay it flat to dry. Please note **Lace gets VERY HEAVY when it's wet...it is very delicate and likely to tear if not handled carefully.**
Sunshine can lighten some age marks and light stains.
When ironing vintage linens, use a well padded ironing board and a clean steam iron. Use the proper iron temperature for each fabric. Steam helps smooth out wrinkles as long as the iron´s heat setting is appropriate for steam. If unsure of the fabric content, start with a very low heat setting and test a small section first.
While ironing always keep the iron moving while smoothing and positioning the piece with your other hand. This will prevent iron impressions and scorching.
Heavily wrinkled pieces can be first steam pressed to lie flat, then lightly dampened with a water spray bottle. A second ironing should make the wrinkles disappear.
I prefer to iron my linens when they are still slightly damp.
I do not recommend using spray starch…starch is a food product…and unless you use your linens or intend on washing them every 6 months, it's going to attract bugs…silverfish love it.
Before storing your Antique linens, clothes etc., make sure they are cleaned. Stains can set in and show up years later. Perspiration marks on clothes especially.