Way back in November, 2016 I did a post about cleaning vintage linens and as I continue to experiment with these treasures, my methods evolve. I’ve gotten very simple and straight forward by cutting my supplies down to 2 ingredients: water and automatic dish powder. (The dish detergent we used to put in our Dishwashers until the handy “tabs” were invented.)
***For an updated post about my methods scroll to: 07-23-2021.
***Warning! Do not use this soak method if your piece has either black or dark grey embroidery floss!! If you have either of these two colors of floss just rely on either Biz or Oxyclean. Follow the instructions on the product container with care!
***Update: recipe is approx. 1 cup automatic dish powder to approx. 2 gallons warm tap water.
In the past I always purchased Cascade powder but one day at Kroger I saw their house brand at less than half the cost. After using the generic powder very successfully, my purchasing habit changed! In the pic below I don’t remember if this is a Kroger or a Walmart generic brand. ***Update: thanks to Stephanie, this automatic dish powder is from Kroger, she just purchased some and is currently soaking some of her vintage linens and in her words: “the water is yucky!”
I spoke to the awesome McKinney (Texas) Quilt Guild in April of this year and yesterday a box of amazing treasures arrived at my door step. Thank you Linda R.!! She crocheted the beautiful piece above! The other pieces, all vintage, were from her neighbor. As with most all linens, these showed the results of being loved and used for the purpose of which they were created.
Oh be still my heart, the things in this box are just wonderful!
Isn’t the above piece simply beautiful!!
So what’s up with the safety pin in the napkin below? I chose the napkin (from the matching set of 8) showing the most staining and by pinning it I can find it again and compare the end results with what the piece looked like at the beginning.
In 2 minutes time can you believe the change in the soak water!
Again, in soak container #2, the 1 minute change from clear to horrible looking water:
Included in the Treasure Box was this wonderful napkin keeper shown above. Laid out flat it it resembles a giant + sign. Can you see the tiny snaps? Once the napkins (or handkerchiefs) are cleaned, they are folded and stacked lying atop the center square. The side flaps are then folded in and snapped accordingly. Finally the top and bottom flaps are folded in and snapped revealing the beautiful monogram in the center:
I am always fascinated by the color of the soak water. The automatic dish powder is removing among other things: laundry soap residue, dust, hand oils, ironing starches and embedded food/beverage residue/stains. Some stains that the laundry powder cannot remove: the dreaded Rust, some lipsticks, nail polish and occasionally some perfume stains. Use caution when attempting to remove rust as it has already penetrated and has begun to destroy the fibers around it. Personally I’ve learned the hard way to just leave rust alone and in a project I will position a “distractor” of some sort over a rust spot.
Here are the 2 soaking bins after about 15 minutes. I will let these pieces stay in the water about 24 hours. Because the soak solution is so concentrated, the pieces will require a great deal of rinsing. When you think you’ve rinsed enough, do it one more time but add 1/2 to 1 cup of clear (distilled) vinegar to the rinse water to remove any remaining soap residue. Your pieces, when dry, may retain the aroma of vinegar for a day or two but this will dissipate.
These beautiful ladies handkerchiefs were also in the Treasure Box. I will soak them at a later date.
I will do an additional blog about how these vintage pieces turned out once they are finished soaking, rinsed, dried and pressed! Stay tuned…
Hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post, let me know if you have questions!
Blessings for a wonderful day!
***someone pointed out to me that my Pinterest address on my business card is wrong 🙁
If you want to find me on Pinterest just type in my first and last name in the search bar. I checked and there’s no other Rhonda Dort listed, an advantage of having an unusual last name 😎