It is possible to restore vintage table coverings at home!! Your linen closet may look like mine. A few treasured vintage table coverings made from cotton lace and intricately designed patterns from years gone by just waiting to be displayed or used for a special occasion.
These items tend to not be laundered too often and stains gone unnoticed or looked over will turn yellow or brown over time when they begin to oxidize with age. These types of stains are not too difficult to handle, but they do take a little extra TLC. The thought of treating stains and washing such items may seem a little daunting but it doesn’t have to be to restore these items to their original glory.
You will need a few household staple items to get started:
- basin filled with warm water
- oxygen bleach powder
- mild dish soap (I use blue Dawn dish soap).
- a soft bristle brush
Step 1. Fill a basin with warm water, and pour about a cup of oxygen bleach powder in and stir until dissolved. Carefully lay your table covering into the water, making sure it is totally submerged. Now we play a waiting game for about 30 minutes while the oxygen bleach works its magic. You may also add some detergent of soap flakes at this point.
Over time, the cotton fibers absorb all kinds of particles from the air including second hand smoke and dust. If the item is stored in a non air tight place, moths and other insects like flies can be attracted to leftover food and sugar stains as well. The oxygen bleach will draw the dust and other yellowing out as it soaks and restore the cloth to a brighter finish. The sugar stains that are oxidized with age may need a little extra brushing with the soft bristle brush to lift the remaining stains.
Step 2. Gently massage the material in the water to loosen up any leftover soil. If some specific stain is noticed, you can dab a soft brush on the area to attempt to lift the stain. If you have some mild dish soap handy, it may help with more the stubborn spots. I use blue Dawn dish soap on everything
After you achieve the desired result, drain the basin and fill with more tap water to rinse the article completely. You can gently squeeze the water out of the cloth or lace by starting in the middle, squeezing as you work out toward the edges. Be careful not to wring out the material, as the age and fibers may be fragile. You may have to repeat the washing process a couple of times to get the item it’s brightest. Especially if you notice the water getting very dirty immediately after you start.
Step 3. Lay the cloth over a shower rod and gently stretch and pull the article until it is original size and shape. Some shrinkage may occur during the bath process so pulling the material may be necessary during the drying stage. Once the material is almost dry, you can toss it in the dryer on the air fluff/no heat setting to loosen any wrinkles. You may have to iron out some intricate lace details once the piece is completely dry.
To iron out shrunken, shriveled lace, simply lay out over a large flat surface on top of a bath towel. I have been known to use my kitchen table. The towel is to protect the table from excessive heat from the iron as you work around the lace to ensure it is the correct shape and remaining flat.
To completely restore vintage and aging table coverings including runners and tablecloths it takes some patience, but I am sure you will be pleased with the outcome.