Cleaning Vintage Linens

by B

An Antique Linen Dealer shared her secret with me, over 25 years ago, for cleaning vintage linens. This was before Oxygen cleaners and many spot treatments were readily available. I would try the newer ones first. If they do not work, this has worked for me. Please note, always test a small area first. If you are happy with the results, proceed with caution, at your own risk.

An antique linen dealer shared her secret with me, over 25 years ago, for cleaning vintage linens.The first step was soaking in Biz, a powdered detergent. I soaked this crocheted tablecloth overnight in Biz. Directions are on the box.

Since stubborn stains remained, I moved onto the next step. I brought water to a gentle boil, not rolling and added powdered Cascade. Depending on the size of your item and pot will determine the amount of product you need to add.

I used a lobster pot, so I added 1/2 cup of Cascade. I turned the eye off before I tested a tiny area to decide if I should proceed. Next, I added the entire tablecloth and stirred constantly. I used tongs to help check the stains.

If you determine that this method may work for you. Always test a tiny area first.Then, proceed with caution, at your own risk. Only you know the age, type of fabric, size and condition of your piece. Note, rinse by hand and line dry.

This worked beautifully on my tablecloth. The stains are gone. For me, this was unusable before cleaning it. It didn't respond to Oxygen cleaners or pre-treatment cleaners. I have successfully used this method for 25+years.

DIY home decor using vintage fabric

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  • Andrea Bunny Andrea Bunny on Feb 01, 2019

    Anyone know what she's talking about when she says, "I turned the eye off?"

  • Lau67497398 Lau67497398 on Jun 22, 2022


    I have an old embroidered pillow case on linen. I'm not sure what the threads are, cotton or silk. They are shiny. The other issue I have is there is back round color stamped on to the linen to add interest to the scene. I have washed many old linens and lace, but I'm scared to submerge this in water in case this back round color will come out. Thoughts?

  • Lynda Farias Lynda Farias on Jul 01, 2023

    I have heard, before, the burner on the stove called an eye. I would like to know why it’s called that. How did it get that name?

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  • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Dec 07, 2021

    My mother and grandmother used to put vintage fabrics, some quite fragile, into the washing machine with Tide and Bleach. It worked, but I don't think I want to try it!!

    • Sandy Doyle Sandy Doyle on Feb 28, 2022

      Tide, perhaps, but very light on the bleach. Too much bleach can actually turn whites yellow.

  • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Feb 28, 2022

    Yes, thanks. You would think so, right? I remember finding some pillow covers my grandmother had embroidered--she also wove the linen fabric--before WWI for her trousseau, and they were brown. My mother did Tide and bleach in hot water and I was horrified, but it worked very well!! Best wishes.