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Thread: Advice - stained old linens

  1. #1
    Super Member KenmoreGal2's Avatar
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    Advice - stained old linens

    In cleaning out my Mom's belongings I found a box with old pillowcases and old store bought aprons. Some of the aprons had paper store price tags attached with straight pins. Based on the location of the store, I think these items may have been given to my Mom by my grandmother who died in the early 1960's.

    Some of the pillowcases are badly stained with age related dots. They feel brand new and unwashed. I think it's possible my grandmother made them with "pillowcase fabric", the kind with the edge printed on it. Some of the brand new (with tags) aprons also have stains, brownish yellowish ones. Some are unscathed.

    I've washed the pillowcases and one of the aprons. The stains did not come out. I am line drying them.

    I have no immediate need for any of this so I'm tempted to just put them in my attic for another day. Will this cause the stains to set any further? I'd rather not go to great lengths to clean them right now. I'd rather wait until I need to use them, if I ever do...

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Super Member KenmoreGal2's Avatar
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    Here's some pics for those who like vintage. The blue bordered pillowcase is not bad, the one that's mostly white has those bad lines on it and the gorgeous blue and pink one is a mess.

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  3. #3
    Power Poster RedGarnet222's Avatar
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    Hi Kenmore gal,
    Google cleaning stained old linens. There is a few sites with helpful information on cleaning these. I would think that you might make a mistake by leaving the stains in and having them eat up your treasures.

    I am so sorry to hear of your mom's passing. It is a very hard thing to handle. I hope you are taking good care of yourself and have many friends to help you though it.
    RedGarnet222

    "Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern ... It will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that ...one stitch at a time, taken patiently."
    *Oliver Wendell Holms

  4. #4
    Super Member KenmoreGal2's Avatar
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    To be honest with you, I owned a white damask tablecloth that I never used. One day I pulled it out and it had all yellow stains on it. At that time I googled how to remove them and was overwhelmed with the scope of the task. I got rid of the tablecloth instead. I'm hoping someone on this board can personally recommend a quick and easy fix that worked for them, if such a thing exists.

  5. #5
    Super Member NIICHMOM's Avatar
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    I too, have a treasure of pillow cases that are stained with age... So will be watching to see what you come up with to remove the age spots....

  6. #6
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    Try using ZOUT you can find it in the laundry aisle. Not every store carries it. I like the foaming one best. Try it on a couple first

  7. #7
    Super Member KenmoreGal2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TerryOH View Post
    Try using ZOUT you can find it in the laundry aisle. Not every store carries it. I like the foaming one best. Try it on a couple first

    Did it actually work for you Terry??

  8. #8
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    Try soaking them in the bath tub with retro clean ( you can find it in quilt stores or on line). It may take 4 or 5 days of soaking to do the job. I've had great results with antique quilt tops. Do NOT use bleach...or the fabric may crumble.
    Life may not be the party we planned for,but while we are here we should dance!

  9. #9
    Super Member KenmoreGal2's Avatar
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    Thanks Francie.

    Let me re-ask a question though. At this point I have no use for these items but of course I don't want to discard them either. I am a bit time pressed right now. If I washed them and put them in my attic (still stained) will my job of cleaning them be harder in the future? In other words, will further storage cause further staining?

  10. #10
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Rather than just wash, I would recommend using RetroClean. Cindy Needham (Wholecloth Linen Quilts book) recommends this very highly. You may be amazed at how good they look, and may find a use for them. Cindy makes beautiful quilts from them.

  11. #11
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    I would make sure they are stain free before putting them away again.

    I am in no way affiliated, but Amway used to have a laundry booster with the word White in the name. Sorry I realize that is not much help. I just looked at the Amway site and it is no longer listed. It may have been a version of Oxyclean.

    Anyways, I used it to wash old linens with brown stains very successfully.

    Quote Originally Posted by KenmoreGal2 View Post
    Thanks Francie.

    Let me re-ask a question though. At this point I have no use for these items but of course I don't want to discard them either. I am a bit time pressed right now. If I washed them and put them in my attic (still stained) will my job of cleaning them be harder in the future? In other words, will further storage cause further staining?
    Attending University. I will graduate a year after my son and year before my daughter.

  12. #12
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    As they are unusable as they are why not try washing with bleach and see what happens. The dyes of that era held up to bleach very well usually. But, of course, no guarantees but, as I said, they are not usable as is now.
    Sally

  13. #13
    Super Member KenmoreGal2's Avatar
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    I got antsy. I don't like all the aprons equally so I picked one I didn't like much and I have it soaking now in Oxy. Basically I chose that because I already had it in the house! I'll let you guys know.

    Edited to add - I checked on the apron. I rinsed the apron in my washer, spun it out and examined it. So far the stain is still there, it may be lighter, it's hard to tell. I've put it back into a new batch of oxy for overnight at least.
    Last edited by KenmoreGal2; 07-19-2015 at 03:15 PM.

  14. #14
    Super Member Girlfriend's Avatar
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    I had a few, very old stained, family linens, and I read on the internet how to get stains out, after trying with regular washing machine methods that didn't work.

    Boil water and pour boiling water over the pillow cases, so that they are not soaking in the water, but rather the water is actually migrating through the fabric. This "weakens" the stain. I was using on white linens, so I mixed 2 Tbsp bleach with about 2 cups boiling water, and poured it through the linens. The stain disappeared before my eyes. I then rinsed the linens very well to make sure there was no residue of bleach, and re-laundered. I couldn't have been more happy.

    There is a product from Amway called All Fabric Bleach that is excellent. I would try that first, since you are working with color fabrics. They also have a prewash stain remover that is also excellent. I am not affiliated in any way with Amway, I'm just a long time happy customer.

    Good luck with your dilemma and let us know what finally works for you.
    Last edited by Girlfriend; 07-19-2015 at 09:08 PM.
    Creative clutter is better than idle neatness.

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    Have you tried washing them and laying them out on green grass? That's how my grandmother got stains out of her whites..

  16. #16
    Super Member KenmoreGal2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misspriss View Post
    Have you tried washing them and laying them out on green grass? That's how my grandmother got stains out of her whites..
    I washed them and line dried them in the sun.....do you suppose that's equal? Or maybe laying them on the grass exposes them to even more sunlight? IDK. I do know sometimes I lay sweaters out back on a flat drying screen and I have to be so careful they don't blow away in the wind! I'd be even more concerned with linens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KenmoreGal2 View Post
    I got antsy. I don't like all the aprons equally so I picked one I didn't like much and I have it soaking now in Oxy. Basically I chose that because I already had it in the house! I'll let you guys know.

    Edited to add - I checked on the apron. I rinsed the apron in my washer, spun it out and examined it. So far the stain is still there, it may be lighter, it's hard to tell. I've put it back into a new batch of oxy for overnight at least.
    Biz is so much better than Oxy products. I had switched when the Oxys came out, but I'm back to Biz. I don't know if it will take out those stains, but it's worth a try. "Stanley" had a stain remover that took tar stains out of a patio door curtain. I was at the party and watched it happen. The curtain was in the hostess's house, and the dealer tried her stain remover on it. It worked. Of course tar is not like your stains.
    Mavita - Square dancer and One Room School Teacher

  18. #18
    Super Member KenmoreGal2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maviskw View Post
    Biz is so much better than Oxy products. I had switched when the Oxys came out, but I'm back to Biz. I don't know if it will take out those stains, but it's worth a try. "Stanley" had a stain remover that took tar stains out of a patio door curtain. I was at the party and watched it happen. The curtain was in the hostess's house, and the dealer tried her stain remover on it. It worked. Of course tar is not like your stains.
    Thanks. I did a quick search and my local walmart sells Biz.

  19. #19
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    I personally feel that if you put the items back in the attic as is the staining will get worse. I've had good luck with retroclean.
    Will be waiting to see what you find works best.

  20. #20
    Super Member AZ Jane's Avatar
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    Throw them in the washer with some Oxiclean and Dawn, if they survive, they are good to go.
    Better to do something imperfectly, than nothing perfectly.
    Done is better than perfect.

  21. #21
    Super Member madamekelly's Avatar
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    I have a very old linen tablecloth that was gift from a very dear friend when I left Texas. She had no idea how to get the yellowing out, and neither do I so I will be watching this thread in the hopes of salvaging it. ( when she gifted it, in 2006, her grand daughter was (or had just been, I can't remember which...) the governor of Louisiana. She gifted it because she knew my kitchen is decorated in Strawberries, and it has bouquets of strawberries on it. It would s one of my treasures.
    If you always do, what you have always done, The results never change. Change is the wings you give yourself.

  22. #22
    Super Member IBQUILTIN's Avatar
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    I agree with dunster, and there is another restoratiive wash you can use. Dang, can't think of the name, but you should be able to get it at you LQS

  23. #23
    Super Member Treasureit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster View Post
    Rather than just wash, I would recommend using RetroClean. Cindy Needham (Wholecloth Linen Quilts book) recommends this very highly. You may be amazed at how good they look, and may find a use for them. Cindy makes beautiful quilts from them.
    I AGREE with Retro Clean...Used it for a lot of vintage linens and had great results on most stains of all kinds.

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    I used Resolve stain remover on an old linen napkin. I let it set longer than the 30 seconds. Left it about 5 minutes, threw into a washer with my white under garments. Looked great.

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    If can't fix it, feature it and tie dye with tea.

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