CLEANING YOUR LINENS
Dust, hair, and perspiration pose the biggest danger to linens, cotton
fabrics, and lace — and they may subtly damage the fibers before you ever notice a problem.
Dust acts like "microscopic razor blades." As it settles deeper into fabric, it
saws away at the fibers, slowly weakening them. Meanwhile moisture and oils can further deteriorate delicate threads.
We advise that a periodic cleaning can help prevent damage to
the fibers. If your linens have any color it's better to let a professional wash them. All it takes is one unstable color to run
and ruin the entire fabric. But for plain whites it's best to "sneak up" on the fabric by using the least aggressive treatments first.
Washing is always better than leaving the fabric dirty and dusty, although it can put some strain on the fibers.
Since old fabric can be quite delicate, make sure it can hold up after each of these steps:
Once they're clean display your linens rather than storing them. They can be enjoyed in ways that keep
them from being abused. For example, pillowcases don't have to be slept on. Instead, use them as pillow shams.
- Hold the fabric up to the light to identify thin or worn
- Soak in tepid, de-mineralized water.
- Rinse with neutral PH soap. (Usually available at curatorial supply shops.)
- As an alternative to the neutral PH soap, try a dishwashing
detergent that doesn't have any additives. The objective is to find something that will loosen the dirt, but won't damage the fibers.
Laundry detergents are okay, but many have whiteners that permanently alter the appearance of the fabric.
- Check for stains. Apply a diluted solution of sodium
porborate, hydrogen peroxide, or Clorox to the stained area only. Let
it stand for about 10 minutes and rinse thoroughly. These chemicals
can eat through the fibers, but it's better to have a small hole that can be darned, than a black or brown dot.
Elizabeth Kurella is author of
The Complete Guide to Vintage Textiles.
Graced by Lace:
A Guide for Collectors of Antique Linen and Lace
by Debra Bonito
The Complete Guide to Vintage Textiles
by Elizabeth Kurella
Guide to Lace and Linens
by Elizabeth Kurella
by Lee Smith
Book of Fine Linen
by Francoise de Bonneville
The Ultimate Book of Soft Furnishings:
The Complete Guide to Making Curtains, Blinds, Cushions, Loose Covers, Talbe & Bed Linen
by Dorothy Wood
Scandinavian Cross Stitch on Linen and Cotton
by Inga Bergfeldt
44 Ways to Turn a Square of Linen into a Work of Art
by James Ginders
1900-20: Linen & Lace (20th Century Fashion)
by Sue Mee
26 Projects for Creating Your Own Luxurious Linens
by Chippy Irvine
Linen and Cotton: Classic Sewing Techniques for Great Results
(Focus on Fabric)
by Susan Khalje
Bed and Table Linen: Professional Skills Made Easy
Casalguidi Style Linen Embroidery
by Effie Mitrofanis
Essence of Linen
by Hilary Mandleberg