Your linens will last for years if they are well cared for. Proper cleaning and storage will prolong the life of textiles, and ensure that your linens retain their heirloom quality.
Machine wash in warm (not hot) water on a gentle cycle. You may use any mild detergent or soap. Use enzyme reactive stain removers only. Do not use chlorine, bleach, stain removers or detergents with lighteners. Never pour detergent or soap directly on your textiles. Either pour it in when the tub is full or dilute it.
Do not use fabric softeners. These only coat the fibers and make them “appear” to be soft. Use one cup of white vinegar in the rinse water to remove any traces of soap and leave fabrics smelling fresh.
The ideal way to dry textiles is air only. A line or rod is perfect, but you can use a railing or shower rod as well. If you must use a dryer, use the lowest setting and never, never dry completely. During the last few minutes of a dryer cycle the fabric overheats and dries out, making it brittle and lifeless over time. Always remove them from the dryer while still damp.
This is an ideal time to press them, but if that is not possible, let them air dry. (You can also “store” laundered linens in a plastic bag in the refrigerator or freezer before air drying or pressing.) You can even air dry sheeting by throwing them over a bed. If you smooth the wrinkles out at this point, the pressing becomes even easier.
Embroidery / Monograms
Press on the underside, using a well-padded ironing board and a clean iron. Do not press in creases because this will also cause wear over time. When pressing monograms or embellishments, place face down on a terry towel so that the decoration will “pop” out.
Finally, simply fold them neatly. One of the more gratifying things to have in the home is a beautiful linen closet. Never store sheeting in plastic. If you must cover them, use an old piece of sheeting or pillow case. Storage should be dry and away from light with some air circulation.
For general cleaning follow the same guidelines as bed linen.
If wine is spilled, immediately splash seltzer water on the spot and place a dry towel underneath it.
For food stains, not much can be done until after the meal. When the meal is finished, “spot” the stains with diluted mild detergent and fill the washing machine with warm water. Now let them soak all night long. In the morning, turn the machine on and this usually will take care of it. If you still have a problem, then soak another 24 hours in enzyme reactive stain removers. Dry and press.
For candle wax, scrape off as much as you can only when it is hard. Place a brown paper bag over the wax and iron on top of this, changing positions frequently until all wax is absorbed. You should then “spot” that place with diluted detergent and follow the soaking instructions above.