I was recently given some white embroidery (placemats, tableclothes etc). These pieces were stored for many years in a closet in a house with a leaky roof, and as a result have beige/brownish water stains. I'd really appreciate any suggestions for getting rid of these stains so I can return this wonderful work to its former glory.
Anna in San Francisco
A friend of mine got this tip from her mother-in-law in New Mexico. They put stained items (clothes, cooking utensils, etc.) out in the sun for 10-20 minutes. Check the items after about ten minutes. She swears it takes stains out of clothes!
I recently whitened some old yellowed linens by soaking them in my sink with warm water and oxyclean. Then I rinsed them well and laid them out in the sunshine for a short time to dry out. The combination of the oxyclean and then the sun worked wonders! I was amazed at how well they whitened up! I have also whitened many cloth diapers over the years simply by hanging them on the line outside in the sun instead of putting them in the dryer. The sun is one of the best brighteners!
Anna, I hope this information helps you. Years ago I inherited a very old wedding dress that was made of cotton & it had many yellowed areas from where the dress was folded. I was given the following information by an older woman that owned a vintage shop that sold wonderful, expensive, exquisite clothing. Hang it on the clothes line & leave it there through snow, sleet, rain & sun. Check every so often to make sure that the clothespins are on the item nice & tight. I did this & after about a month (the dress went through a snowstorm) the yellow marks disappeared. Hope you have the same good luck that I had with this solution.
If these items are old and possibly valuable I wouldn't be using 'modern' treatments or hanging them outside in all weathers until you have some professional advice. Call our nearest museum with a conservation department and ask their advice as to the best method of removing stains without damaging the fabric. They may already have started to deteriorate and harsh treatments may lead to further weakening of the fabric.
Sundrying is a great way, but remember sun is BLEACH. You don't want to hang, you want to lay it on the grass, damp, an hour each side, until just about dry. The sun, grass and water all work together to create a natural form of bleach. If you need to resort to chemical, look for a product called Snowy. My GM restores linens for a living and she swears by it. Good luck.
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