Cleaning Vintage Linens

No fancy cleaning products necessary!

I was ready to sew with a beautiful set of applique doily-like linens I found somewhere along the way. Just as I was about to sew, I noticed the fabric (an interesting cross between burlap and linen) in the middle was spotted and stained, and the applique flowers needed some brightening up. I am not one to make magic potions with vinegar and such in the kitchen, nor do I like ordering fancy cleaning products. That’s just me. I wondered if the Woolite knock-off I had on hand would do, and it worked just fine. Here’s how I did it.

Step 1

You can see here the splotches on the inside fabric. There were some spots on the flowers as well.


I already had this generic, store brand cleaner on hand. I thought I’d give it a try.


I put about a quarter of a cup (1/4c) of the cleaner in a large bowl of warm water. I put one to two linens in the bowl to soak for about 10 minutes each. (Note how transparent the water is with the first linen.) After a few minutes soaking, I used my fingers to lightly rub all over the “doily” in order to facilitate lifting the stains. I did not change the water with the next round of linens. However, if you have many linens to wash, you might want to do so every few washes.


After all four linens were cleaned, the amount of dirt and grime was evidenced in the bowl. Ick! I had no idea they were that dirty.


I then hung them to dry on the dish rack.


Here’s the final result! The stains in the burlapy center fabric are completely gone, and the flowers are brightened and many of their stains lifted.


I also used this same method on a roll vintage crochet trim I had. Look how white it became!

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