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HOW TO CARE FOR FINE LINENS

 

Exceptional Antique Linens bring romance

and a sense of history to your home.

 

 

 

Sentimental beauties, these household treasures have often served a family for decades,

and will happily continue to bring beauty and grace to your home if properly cared for.

 

 

 

 

After the holidays spent with our family, which were lovely and very low key,

 

I went on a linens buying trip to source some spectacular lace and linens.

 

 

After the more “busy” decor of Christmas –

 

I love to decorate with the wintery creams and whites in January.

 

 

There is nothing more soothing than setting a table

 

or layering a sofa with an antique cloth made with lace.

 

 

 

Lace and linen cloths are not just for tables, they look just as lovely layered over sofas, or a bed.

 

 

 

 

I love the romance and femininity of hand made lace

 

in whites, creams and ecru.  It makes me feel connected to the women

 

who made these wonders. And the women who lovingly placed them on their tables.

 

 

 

 

I was able to gather some cherished heirloom linens

 

from my very favorite lace and linen specialists.

 

 

I adore the glimmer and shine of the old woven silk and linen damasks.

 

Each one a treasure in glowing cream and champagne ivory.

 

And I was blessed to be offered another array of Estate Antique Trousseau Heirloom Damask Tea Towels with the most incredible designs woven in.

 

 

Made for a bridal trousseau, but sadly, never used.

 

 

Each one a work of art to be cherished, with the most incredible floral designs woven in the damask!

 

 

 

For those of you who love the antique linens as much as I do,

I’ve put together my very best tips

 for keeping your luxurious fine linens their best.

 

HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR HEIRLOOM ANTIQUE LINENS:

 

1. ENJOY AND USE YOUR LINENS. 

The life of antique fine linens will be extended if you use them! Yes, it’s really true. Don’t keep them folded and stashed in your cupboards for fear their service will diminish their value or fine quality.

Keeping the linens folded inside cabinets will create stress on the fibers and damage the linens. Using and laundering your linens frequently allows your treasured textiles to breathe.  Use them and appreciate their beauty on a daily basis!

 

2. CLEAN APPROPRIATELY.

True museum quality heirloom linens are better off cleaned by a textile professional. Most antique linens, though, can be easily taken care of at home by you.

For delicate laces and fine fabrics, I recommend hand washing in a mild detergent in warm water.  Handle the wet pieces with delicacy, squeeze out the water carefully, wringing or twisting will do damage.  Air dry your antique linens. Outdoors is optimal, but I also dry a variety of pieces over the shower bar hung over a clean white sheet.

The sturdier country linens can be washed in your washer on gentle. Please do not use chlorine bleach, it will weaken the fibers. I do dry the country linens in the dryer on very low, and take them out while they are still moist.  You will have to use your own judgement on this.

 

3. DEAL WITH STAINS.

Should a guest spill a glass of red wine on your heirloom cloth, no need to panic.  Don’t disturb your lovely party, simply dab the stain with a wet, cold cloth, and pour some white table salt on the stain. {I layer a napkin over the wet spot, so that the meal can continue!}

Most stains will soak out in ice-cold water overnight. There are also many excellent linen soaks on the market to treat stains that are not easily removed.

And should your antique linen have a smallish stain you can’t get out? Just think of it as part of the story, it was loved, used, and spread out in all its glory. 

 

4. PRESS WITH CAUTION. 

I love the look of crisply ironed linens and also the look of wrinkled “as they are” ones. In order to iron, place a clean white terrycloth towel on your ironing board.  For delicate linens, or lace, I place a white cotton “press cloth” over the textile piece. {I’ll be honest, I usually use one of Mr. FGH’s clean white handkerchiefs!}

Always test a small area, begin at the lowest iron setting. And do NOT use your steam setting.  I use a spray bottle filled with lavender scented ironing water to moisten. Press embroidery on the wrong side, over the towel.  And don’t use spray starch, the carbohydrate in it will yellow your linens over time.

 

5. PRESERVE WITH CARE. 
Choose a wood cabinet to store your linens. Never use plastic bins, as the linens will not be able to breathe in there.

For larger linen cloths, take a leaf out of my grandmere’s book and roll them with acid free tissue paper.  Wrapping a set of heirloom napkins or towels around a cardboard tube covered in acid free paper keeps them beautifully and puts little or no pressure on the fibers. Add a bundle of lavender to your linen closet for fragrance.

Here is a secret trick I learned from my European grandmere:  Tie a bundle of white chalk in a ribbon and hang it in your linen closet to absorb moisture away from your linens!

 

 

With proper care, your beautiful antique heirlooms should remain gorgeous

 

and ready to serve and beautify your home.

 

 

SHOP ANTIQUE LINENS >

SHOP FRENCH COUNTRY LINENS >

à bientôt

 

If you want to romance your Home and Garden with antique and vintage treasures to make you smile each time you come home, visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.

14 Responses to HOW TO CARE FOR FINE LINENS

  1. Lidy, this is a wonderful and informative post. I do love old linens, there is nothing quite like them, in my opinion. I always wonder about them, who owned them and who were they made for. They add so much to a home.

  2. What a great tutorial on linens! Thank you, I have some of my Grandmother’s and will now know how to better care for them. I do love them.

    Happy New Year to you!
    Theresa

  3. Happy New Year Lidy! I appreciate this post as I love old linens and have my share. While shopping I found a tablecloth that was beautiful but was yellow with age and it had a stain. I paid very little for it but bought it anyway as my husband had lived in Africa and his helpers had taught Him how to restore the linens back to their original bright white. They washed them and laid them on the wet green grass in the yard while wet in the bright sunshine. The stains were like magically removed by the chlorophyll in the wet grass and the sunshine. I used that technique and the tablecloth is like new, no yellowing and no stain. I don’t know if I would use that same technique in a very expensive piece of linen but it worked for me on that item and other pieces. Some I had to repeat the technique several times. I love the smell of them when brought inside.

  4. Happy New Year Alice! That is so wonderful, that you are still using the age old method of “bleaching” – in Europe centuries ago, it’s why they called certain fields the “bleaching fields” – because it’s where the laundresses would lay out the sheets etc. on the grass to get them beautifully clean! Thank you for adding this very helpful tip to this post, Alice. Xo Lidy

  5. Lovely linens and great advice, Lidy! I have many linens from my mother and grandmother. And I love to buy them too! Do you have any “magical” treatments for those rust stains that show up on the linens? They don’t seem to budge at all. Wishing you a Happy New Year 2019! Merci!

  6. If the linen is not fragile or museum quality, I have had luck using lemon juice on rust stains. Always be sure to pad the underside of your linens with a very thick absorbent white towel before patting on the lemon juice (do not use bottle concentrate). I often use q-tips to apply the diluted lemon juice on small stains. No need to overdo it. I Inherited 16 steamer trunks full of trousseau linens from my step grandmother. She told me that sadly during the World Wars (especially in Europe) the linens that she made for brides-to-be were never paid for because the grooms-to-be never returned home from the Wars. My heart breaks when I think of her loving hands doing all of that exquisite handwork for happy and hopeful brides who never married their sweethearts. Your posts always bring me joy and often times-memories of all the women who have cared for their precious linens and antiques.

  7. If the item is sturdy linen or damask, I have had luck with a rust remover called WINK. This product has bee on the market for decades. use it very sparingly on the rust stain. Apply with a q-tip.

  8. What a most exquisite collection of antique linens. Thank you for the tips on cleaning and love how you handle the spilled wine incidents. There is nothing worse than to make your guest feel uncomfortable! You are the perfect hostess!

  9. Shirley, isn’t it true? A guest already feels bad enough when they spill….: ) and everyone spills things sometimes. The salt really works! On my very first “date” with the Mr. we went to a party given by his friends. They had white carpet. Everyone sat on the floor. They served red wine. I bet you can guess I spilled it…and they very casually took a huge pot of salt that was on their coffee table and poured salt on the spot. By the end of the party, they vacuumed it up and you could barely see the red anymore!

  10. Nancy, I have used that WINK before. You do have to be very careful! And thank you for chiming in with your tips! I love that about this community, we all can help each other. : )

  11. Aggghhhhhh I have a load of gorgeous antique spreads and tablecloths in plastic bins in storage!!! Never knew the plastic was bad and couldn’t breathe!! Oh honey we need to go to storage!! Gotta save my stifling linens, they can’t breathe! Thanks, Lidy!

  12. Thank you, Lidy for these wonderful tips! Most I knew, but also learned a few new ones! I love my family heirloom linens that are from my parents (their wedding gifts in 1937) and my fraternal grandmother! They are so precious to me!

  13. Thank you for your insight to caring for linens. as you know I love them care for all the linens I purchased from you. My husband wants me to use them but when I do he worries they will be damaged. He loves the way my tables look. I do love the idea of using them on the sofa. I have some table clothes that I would not place on the dinner table. It would be wonderful to see them out.

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