With a little care, that vintage linen that you picked up at an antique shop can probably be returned to its original beauty. Old linens fabrics were intended to last for years, so don't hesitate to try these special laundering techniques. Difficulty: Moderate
Pre-treat stains before washing with a gentle dishwashing detergent. Rub the detergent into the fabric and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
Soak vintage linens overnight in hot water and a mild soap. Some soiled linens may need to soak for several days. Add fresh hot water and soap every day.
Gently swish the fabric in the soapy water or stir it gently with a wooden spoon. Don't rub or agitate the fabric.
Rinse the vintage linen in cool water until the soapy residue is removed. It is much better to over-rinse than under-rinse, so repeat several times, if necessary. Any detergent left in the linen can make brown spots appear. Use white vinegar in the first rinse to remove any remaining soap and chemicals from the fibers.
Small ink stains can often be removed with milk. Rub it gently into the stain until the ink disappears, and then launder as described above.
Treat food stains, such as chocolate, coffee or tea, with rubbing alcohol, white vinegar or ammonia. Squeeze fresh lemon juice directly on a stubborn stain and sprinkle it with salt. Allow it to sit for a few minutes and rinse thoroughly.
Gently squeeze the water out of the fabric without wringing and lay it on a towel to dry.