Cleaning Vintage Linens

September 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

I know a lot of people get especially nervous when you talk about cleaning vintage linens and yes, sometimes you do have to be cautious.  However, if you know what your fabric is, it makes it a lot simpler.  So, I wanted to impart a tip on cleaning vintage cotton since most of us are handed down pillowcases, quilts, and towels and we actually want to make use of these treasures and incorporate them in our daily lives.

The fantastic thing about old cottons is that they were made to last; most items, like large quilts, can take a quick tumble in the washing machine on delicate.  It’s preferable to line dry these items, but if you must place in the dryer I would leave out the fabric softener and then use a hot iron.   For small pieces, you may want to opt for hand-washing.  I use a 1/4 cup sea salt or kosher salt to every hot gallon of water.  Soak up to 48 hours, occasionally swishing the fabric about and then line dry and iron on hot  for best results.  Not all stains will come out, especially rust, but you will see a marked improvement over yellowing and linens will be soft…ready for you to enjoy for years to come!

***This vintage pillowcase set pictured, is available in my Etsy shop and was cleaned in the “salt” method.  A great find for the collector or anyone with an interest to begin collecting vintage linens.

–Lisa LeBlanc

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Washing Recipe for Soft Sheets

May 10, 2011 § 2 Comments

Why yes! I do sleep on polka-dot sheets!

I love a well-made bed; in fact, I will clean my bedroom before any room in the house despite the fact that company is expected shortly…as in the case this past weekend.  I ran across a fantastic washing recipe for sheets on one of my favorite blogs, Alicia Paulson’s Posie Gets Cozy.  A very simple recipe developed by an 84 year old woman to guarantee the softest sheets, I had to give it a go!  After all, we spend an average of 36% of our lives asleep; shouldn’t we make those hours as nice as possible?  So, I bundled up my favorite sheets and headed to the utility room (then I promised myself I would begin cleaning the rest of the house while they washed).

Here is the recipe and my additional notes:

  • 1-1/2 cups of cheap white distilled vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of detergent – I use Farmhouse Laundry Soap (I sell it in my shop and have used it for years as it is natural, bio-degradable and great for my sensitive skin)
  • warm wash
  • warm rinse
  • extra rinse
  • perma-press dry (line drying would probably be the best and most eco-friendly BUT according to the recipe drying on permanent press is cooler and keeps the fibers smoother and softer…I had no idea!)

It is hard to find just the right set of sheets; a little extra care helps preserve them because as one of the blog comments noted:

“You never know if they’re good ones until they’ve been washed about 30 times and then you can’t find them again!”

So, how did my sheets stack up?  It worked!  I could tell a noticeable difference in the softness; however my survey of one additional adult, 2 cats and 1 Chihuahua (I need a bigger bed) proved only a few yawns and nodding heads to placate my excited query.   Happy snores moments later were satisfaction enough to prove my experiment succeeded and thanks enough for providing my family a good night’s rest.

And as a footnote, if I had more time, I would have ironed them and spritzed them with Farmhouse’s companion linen spray.  It’s another natural favorite of mine that you can use in the place of a water bottle when ironing… clothes come out smelling line dry!

–Lisa LeBlanc

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