Asked on Dec 13, 2014

How to remove stains from antique baby clothing

by Stacy
I was given the task of finding a solution to remove what looks like rust spots on a few baby items 60 plus years old. Because of how delicate the fabric is, coupled with what I've seen on line to use, I'm afraid the chemicals would eat away the material. Any "gentle" suggestions as to how to remove these multiple spots?
  22 answers
  • Vikki Donovan Vikki Donovan on Dec 13, 2014
    CLR works really well on removing rust. I'd use a 50/50 solution of CLR & distilled water then dab it on the stains with a Q-tip. I've used it on delicates before just not such old delicates.
  • Debby Adams Debby Adams on Dec 13, 2014
    Contact a cleaner company. Sometimes they have some type of solution to remove rust stains.
  • Berniee2000 Berniee2000 on Dec 13, 2014
    Try this: 1 part Original Blue Dawn, 2 parts hydrogen peroxide. If you make more than you need, store in a dark bottle (like the one the hydrogen peroxide is sold in) because the peroxide breaks down in the light. Read all the comments...they will make a believer out of you.
  • Ana Oliveira Ana Oliveira on Dec 13, 2014
    @Stacy - Try leaving it in the sun, wet and soaped for a day or two. It worked for me.
  • Jackie Golladay Jackie Golladay on Dec 13, 2014
    BIZ.. sometimes for days and days.. never has it not worked, ever.
    • SimplySalvage SimplySalvage on Dec 14, 2014
      I agree with Jackie - try BIZ. When I wanted to wear my mother's wedding gown which had been hand made by my grandmother, we found it was yellowed from storage in the attic and had rust stains from some of the snap fasteners. We soaked it in BIZ for a couple days and it worked! Didn't harm the delicate lace or netting.
  • Brenda Wright Brenda Wright on Dec 13, 2014
    I don't know what strength you should use, but I would try Iron Out. However, with them being vintage, I would recommend trying on a very small spot first.
  • Linda Linda on Dec 13, 2014
    Hi Y'all...I too had some very old delicate baby items, among others, I used BIZ with quite a bit of success. Look for it on the laundry detergent lane. It's an enzyme cleaner...uses gentle chemical reactions to dissolve stains. Seems like it's usually on the top shelf. Make a strong mix with several scoops in hot water in a bucket or such. Mix well. Don't worry that all of it doesn't dissolve. Then just put in the items one at a time...sorta just pile them in one at a time on top of each other. Leave it for days...weeks if needed. Items will feel slimey. That means it's dissolving the stuff out. Check on it every day or two and rotate the pieces around. Be careful not to tear anything when lifting them. Don't lift and mix the pieces like mixing dough... They'll be very heavy and might tear easily when lifted. Just scoop out each piece and hand squeeze them carefully. Rinse each piece well under running water. Do it again in a week or mix. When it appears that no further stains come out, then do this: use the much touted on TV: Oxi-Clean. It works pretty good too. Just mix it up the same way as the BIZ. Check it every few days. Some stains just refuse to budge. I also use Purple Stuff [purple rite...purple whatever, all virtually the same] from the automotive section at say, WalMart or an auto supply store. I have used it for years and years on anything and everything...from jeans to delicate fabrics. It's a strong degreaser, but gets out other tough stains as well. It has never ruined anything I have ever used it on. Even wedding lace! I use it as an all-purpose cleaner around the house as well. Important: Don't breathe the mist if you spray it [as I do: keep it in a spray bottle...handy for laundry stains. Set the spray nozzle to squirt rather than spray...less mist into the air. Use outside if possible.] It's very irritating to the lungs, and when you use it as much as I do, I must be sure to not breathe it in. Use with a vent fan if possible...or place a small fan that blows it away from you. I also use it [outside] on the old pieces of furniture that I refinish with chalk paint and such. I hope I haven't scared you away from this...just do it. Amazing how it just lifts out old gunk from these pieces. Let me know if you use these ideas...and how it works. PS: I have also used lemon juice in bright sunshine.
    • Linda Stokes Linda Stokes on Dec 14, 2014
      @Linda I've used Biz successfully on many vintage items. Hot water and Biz in a bucket and leave it to soak. If it is real bad I'll change the water and Biz and do it again. Had one christening gown that I soaked for 3 weeks.
  • Carol  Van Aardt Carol Van Aardt on Dec 14, 2014
    I was told to keep table linen free of marks with Borax powder mixed to a paste with a little water. Then soak. The Amway products Gelzyme & Trizyme soap powders, which are enzyme based, & oxygenated bleach, very good too. I would try them after the Borax paste.
  • Connie Connie on Dec 14, 2014
    Try 1 beer and a egg beat them till mixed then squeeze and swish. I saw this on Tanked and it worked on my old doilies.
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Dec 14, 2014
    I used denture cleaning tablets on a very old piece of linen (with long fringe) that was my grand mothers that she made and had old embroidery on it. There was a very yellow, very old stain on it and this worked. I took 8 or so tablets and put them in hot water to dissolve them, cooled the water down an then put the linen piece in. It took several days and multiple attempts but ALL the stains disappeared. I then hand washed and ironed. Like new!
  • MagnoliaMama MagnoliaMama on Dec 14, 2014
    Be extremely careful about using products not specifically made to bleach vintage or antique fabrics. They might remove the stain but cause harm in the process because they damage the delicate fibers and eventually cause holes. (Acid in oxidized stains may have already weakened the threads too.) For a lot of information on caring for antique linens, including antique baby clothes, visit The FAQ section covers special questions, like what to do if there are already tears in the fabric. Click Our Favorite Ideas for hundreds of ways to use antique linens for decorating, entertaining, and crafts.
  • Patricia Patricia on Dec 14, 2014
    Lacis in Berkeley, CA sells a stain-removing product designed to clean antique fabrics--Restoration. It's not cheap, but it works amazingly well, even on badly discolored, spotted fine cottons. I've used it on Edwardian ladies' blouses that had turned yellow and were stained with those "rust spots" and after 2 soaks they're now white. Lacis sells antique laces, so this is specifically made to clean very old, fragile fabrics.
  • Liliana Wells Liliana Wells on Dec 14, 2014
    My mother (over 60 years ago) used to make a paste out of baking soda and lemon juice (not the bottled stuff). Apply to stain, cover with a piece of glass and set out in the sun. It works. Good luck.
  • Sandy Harmon Sandy Harmon on Dec 14, 2014
    I've used a paste of Biz powder and Tide powder mixed with water to remove stains on old linens and doll clothes. The amount of soaking depends on the stain. It has worked great for me.
  • Debra Debra on Dec 14, 2014
    I have used Cascade dishwashing powders dissolved in very hot water, let it cool down to luke warm and soak the item in it. Usually overnite. Make sure the powders are dissolved or you will have a concentration in one area and will discolor item.
  • Stacy Stacy on Dec 14, 2014
    Ladies, I'm the originator with the stained baby clothes and I can't thank all of you enough for taking the time to share your knowledge and know how. I think I've got the ammo to tackle this project with positive results for if one doesn't work, surely with all provided, another will! Thank you all again! Stacy. ........
  • David David on Dec 15, 2014
    a paste of baking soda .peroxide and water, apply and let stand ,I left it over night worked great and works great on white shirt underarm stains.
  • Patty Navarrette Patty Navarrette on Apr 20, 2015
    I've used a mix of regular Dawn dishwashing liquid with peroxide ... about ½&½ of both in an empty condiments squeeze bottle. (I keep this in my laundry room to use on every stain I come across) This has worked on wine, makeup, chocolate, etc....
  • Patty Navarrette Patty Navarrette on Apr 20, 2015
    *** About half & half of both liquids....
  • Yaquina Lady Yaquina Lady on Oct 31, 2017

    How can I tell if the antique baby dress is still?

  • Yaquina Lady Yaquina Lady on Oct 31, 2017

    How can I tell if the antique baby dress is silk?