Love Your Linens: How to Care for Heirloom Fabrics

Care for your heirloom sheets and cloths with these suggestions.

salt, lemons and linens

Salt, lemon juice and sun gently remove stains from linens.

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Modern detergents and washing machines are too powerful for heirloom cloths and sheets, so err on the safe side by following the suggestions below. After laundering, you can protect linens from dust and direct sunlight by storing them in old pillowcases.

All-Natural Stain Removal

Bleach can dissolve delicate heirloom threads before your eyes. Instead, dab stains with a clean white cloth saturated with undiluted white vinegar. For difficult spots, use solar power. Here’s how:

1. Cover the spot with a pile of table salt.

2. Drizzle fresh lemon juice over the salt.

3. Leave the fabric in the sun for several hours.

4. Gently brush off the salt; hand-launder as usual.

To Hand-Launder Fine Linens:

1. Pre-fill a basin with warm water, stir in Castile soap and mix well.

2. Wash one piece at a time, pressing the water gently through the fabric. Never wring.

3. To rinse, drain the basin, refill with fresh water and again press water through fabric.

4. To dry, lie delicates such as lace placemats and sheer handkerchiefs flat on clean towels. Line drying is suitable for table linens and bedding; if necessary, machine dry on low or air.

Ironing Tips

■ Most linens can be ironed at the highest setting. Test first on an inconspicuous place.

■ Press the back side first, then flip and iron the front.

■ Pieces with intricate embroidery should be ironed face down on a soft towel.

■ Always use a pressing cloth on delicate fabrics.