Do you want your table to look perfect this holiday season? Many linens are special, as they may have been gifted to you or an heirloom handed down from generation to generation. Unfortunately, even on holidays, accidents happen and you may encounter drink and food spills. Knowing how to properly care for your linens becomes especially important during the holidays.
How to care for antique linens:
Many families use heirloom linens during the holiday season. Although Anton’s may not be able to restore previously damaged heirlooms, careful cleaning can help to prevent additional damage.
Whether you take an heirloom item in to be cleaned prior to or after use, make sure to let Anton’s know the age, fiber content, and how it has been stored. This will help us determine the best possible cleaning method.
If you choose to clean an heirloom yourself, limit yourself to hand washing only. Inspect the item for damage and test for colorfastness before proceeding (i.e. do the colors run or fade when washed). Hand wash using warm water and a mild detergent, rinse thoroughly, and air dry.
For some items, soak using enough water to cover adequately. Do not crowd. Soak between five and 10 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Do not pull, tug, or wring while wet, as this can cause some fabrics to tear.
How do you care for lace?
Lace tablecloths are also a favorite for holiday dinners and parties. Lace can be made of a variety of fibers, including cotton, linen, ramie, and polyester. Crochet, knitting, embroidery, and cut work are the most common techniques used to create lace tablecloths.
Check lace for holes and loss of tensile strength before washing. Loss of tensile strength can be determined by gently pulling the fabric in one direction and then the other. If the fabric feels like it will tear or pull apart, the lace may be too fragile to clean. Embroidered designs should also be checked for loose or pulled threads.
If the lace tablecloth is not too fragile, machine wash with a mild detergent on gentle cycle to avoid damage. Very fragile tablecloths should be soaked with no agitation. Soak in a mild detergent, follow with two rinses, and extract lightly.
For more durable laces, bleach using hydrogen peroxide. Do not use chlorine bleach, as lace can be easily weakened and damaged. You may not notice the damage initially, but it will become apparent after cleaning.
Many laces will need to be blocked (stretched) back to their original size after washing. For this reason, it is important that you measure the tablecloth beforehand. Using these measurements, smooth and stretch the tablecloth, and air dry.
How do you keep your linens looking their holiday best?
When cleaning, you should consider the item’s age, condition, stains, fiber content, trims, and how it was stored.
Before cleaning, thoroughly inspect the item for stains, damage from insects and light exposure, and damage to trims. Remove or reinforce trims, and check and mend tears.
On colored linens or linens with colored trims, test for colorfastness prior to cleaning. Apply a water/detergent solution to an inconspicuous area, then blot with a paper towel. If dye transfers to the towel, the item should not be washed. Colors in embroidery will need to be individually tested.
Ironing your linens-especially lace- can be quite a chore. Try ironing them while they are still damp. Remember your professional drycleaner can also clean and crisply finish your linens.
If a stain occurs during a party, do not rub it. Blot gently with water. Before storage, make sure your linens are cleaned and stains are removed. Soiling and stains attract insects. Afterwards, be sure to store your linens in a cool, dry, dark area.
If in doubt on how to properly care for your linens, stop by your local Anton’s so we can keep your linens looking their best for years to come.