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CARING FOR YOUR ANTIQUE LINENS By Cynthia's Linen Room
If you discover, inherit or buy antique linens, you will eventually need to launder them. I hope that the following tips will contribute to your ability to use and enjoy your items. (forgive me if I repeat myself in any of the following text; I love laundering antique linens and I hope that you will come to love it, too! Or, will not worry so much about it.)
Old textiles are usually very sturdy and most are far more colorfast than some of the dyes we have today. (though sometimes not.) They were intended to last an entire lifetime, and often were passed down for the next generation to use. When linens are stored, they invariably develop "age" or "storage stains" which has nothing to do with whether they were put away clean.
One of the most helpful and pleasurable things you can do is to start a collection of books about linens and lace. Among other things, you will learn how different fibers react to different uses and circumstances. (browse my list of recommended reading, too)
PLEASE NOTE THAT I DO NOT GUARANTEE ANY METHOD THAT YOU CHOOSE TO TRY— AND THE FOLLOWING TIPS ARE IN NO WAY AN IMPLIED GUARANTEE.
Some items already suffer from dry rot, mouse nibbles and destructive rust. You will not be able to save these things if the fibers are already compromised. If you tug on two sides of a handkerchief, towel or pillowcase and it comes apart without much effort, your item has dry rot and has reached the end of its useful life. It may have looked pretty good, but it was already damaged. Throw it away, mourn it, move on. Sometimes, you must let go.
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