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Forum > Patterns and Notions > Stain removal for vintage linens? ( Moderated by Sharon1952)

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Stain removal for vintage linens?
Miss Fairchild
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Miss Fairchild
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Date: 10/10/12 10:10 AM

I'm looking for recommendations on a stain removal product for vintage linens. Short of using diluted bleach and water, would any of you have any suggestions? Some of these are set in stains. I've used Gonzo (doesn't work), Oxy Clean Laundry pretreat (doesn't work) OxyDeep Carpet Stain Remover (ditto) and even my all time favorite, Fels Naptha, which doesn't work either.

TIA

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Sewandwrite
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In reply to Miss Fairchild <<
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Date: 10/10/12 12:04 PM

Miss Fairchild --

I learned this from eBay merchants who specialize in vintage clothing and linens: soak the item for up to 24 hours in BIZ. It's a pre-soak laundry aid in granular form that is chocked full of enzymes.

I've gotten out decades-old perspiration stains, blood, and grease stains with BIZ. It's remarkable.

Start with the hottest water your item will stand. I've used nearly boiling water, put the BIZ into a tub, added the water, stirred the mixture with large spoon until the BIZ was dissolved, then added my items and stirred. A day later, while wearing rubber gloves and protective eyewear (enzymes are harsh to the skin and eyes), I poured out the water, tossed the items in the washer, and ran on a full cycle without detergent.

WARNING: Biz can take out some vintage red and orange dyes. I wouldn't soak red or orange items in it unless they are otherwise hopelessly stained. I trashed a lovely orange vintage dress this way, but it had a terrible stain on it to begin with. A red shirt came out OK. YMMV.

Biz contains NO optical brightening agents, which leave a non-removable residue on items. If you've ever seen an antique linen dealer with a pen-sized blacklight, he or she is checking whether the linens have been washed in a detergent with OBA. Almost all detergents sold in the U.S. has them now, except powdered Cheer.

BIZ won't get out rust stains, but a product called Whink, available in hardware stores, will get the rust out of natural fibers. It will dissolve some synthetics. Wear gloves.

Good luck!

tlmck3
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tlmck3
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Date: 10/10/12 6:38 PM

I've had good luck with Biz soaks, too. And with letting things soak overnight in an OXY bath.

If they are whites and all linen or cotton, I would go ahead and use a weak bleach solution and let it soak for 20 minutes or so.

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I am going for a level of perfection that is only mine... Most of the pleasure is in getting that last little piece perfect...Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just keep showing up and doing the work.

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tourist
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Date: 10/10/12 6:43 PM

Peroxide will do it for some, but it can bleach, so best with whites. I have also had luck in the past with toothpaste and sometimes with shaving cream. Weird but true. Oh - and I recently used good old fashioned Pine Sol on a grease stain. The "sol" part does stand for solvent, I believe, so that explains that.

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Date: 10/11/12 7:47 PM

You need to be very careful with chlorine bleach on really old white vintage linens. I've found the old trick of using lemon juice on wet linen, and then putting it in full sun to be very effective. You may need to repeat a couple of times. Don't starch or iron your linen before putting it away, and don't store in contact with wood.

Patti B
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Date: 10/11/12 10:05 PM

Mary Ellen's Best Wash is supposed to be good for antique linens but I haven't tried mine yet.

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diane s
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Date: 10/11/12 10:09 PM

I bought some embroidered pillow cases at an estate sale and wanted to make them into a dress for dgd. I searched online and there were lots of recipes for cleaning old linens. I used this one first, biz and boiling water. I used a small plastic trash can put the biz in, with the hot water. Threw in the pillow cases and stirred. After a few hours the water was so yellow, I could't believe. I waited until the next day and rinsed. They were still a little yellow so I repeated, and they came out spotless.

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PattiAnnJ
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Date: 10/12/12 10:18 AM

No bleach, including peroxide.

Martha Pullen has been collecting vintage clothing for many years uses an oxygen based product. You have to let the fabric soak overnight, rinse and then repeat the process again until the stains are gone.

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"Improvise, adapt and overcome." - Clint Eastwood/Heartbreak Ridge

Miss Fairchild
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Date: 10/12/12 10:22 AM

wow! So many responses and suggestions. Thank you all. The problem is two spots, which appear to be coffee, near an embroidered butterfly (which by the way, has red and orange thread). I might use a weak solution of Biz and dab it on there, rather than soak the whole thing. The suggestion of hanging it out in the sun after the use of a lemon was something I'd forgotten; thank you! If I can get warm enough to go outside, 38 degrees today, I'll be out there.

I'll see what works best then let you know.


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"Play the cards you are dealt, but choose who is sitting at the table"..AARP magazine

SEE MY ETSY SHOP HERE: http://www.etsy.com/shop/AuntMaymesAttic
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PattiAnnJ
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Date: 10/12/12 10:23 AM

No bleach, including peroxide.

Martha Pullen has been collecting vintage clothing for many years uses an oxygen based product. You have to let the fabric soak overnight, rinse and then repeat the process again until the stains are gone.

------
"Improvise, adapt and overcome." - Clint Eastwood/Heartbreak Ridge

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