Caring For Vintage Linens
Though there are still plenty of retro tablecloths and dish towels available with labels intact, the majority of vintage kitchen textiles have been used, and come to us with an issue or two. Gravy or coffee stains, yellowing, age spots, you name it, you'll eventually own a table cloth with it.
Through trial and error, The Retro Kitchen has found several techniques that will give new life to your vintage linens;
If you suspect the stain is organic (wine, juice, coffee, food) OxiClean will be your best bet. Mix the solution as directed and soak the linens for up to six hours, then gently wash and dry.
For particularly stubborn stains on white fabric you can try several things. The first is dabbing a very weak bleach/water solution on the stain, which may lift it. The second treatment, and the one we've had the most success with, is dabbing the spot or stain with the cut side of a fresh lemon, then laying the piece OUT ON THE GRASS in full sun for several hours. As crazy as this sounds, it does work. The third is applying liquid dishwasher detergent directly to the stain, wet with water, then gently rub out the stain. Do not use any of these treatments on colors without testing a small concealed portion of the fabric first.
Once you've got your linens sparkling, you can give them new found body by dampening them with spray sizing, then iron. They will be crisp, without being stiff.
If you find yourself with a stain that can not be removed by any of these methods you still have a couple of options. #1 - If it's a small stain, use it anyway. Or #2 - Cut out the offending stain and use the remainder of the fabric for sewing projects like chair pads, valances or appliance covers.