Caring for Your Linens
Despite what you may have heard linen is easy to take care of, but it is useful to follow a few simple guidelines.
Only the very special and delicate pieces require handwashing. Everything else can be washed in the machine and we recommend 40 deg C with a gentle liquid detergent and a gentle spin cycle. There is no need for fabric conditioner. Wash your vintage linens separately, don't include in your normal wash where buttons or hooks can cause damage.
For the more delicate pieces we recommend you wash by hand in a gentle detergent and don't wring, but rather fold in a towel and squeeze gently to absorb the dampness.
Coloured linens should always be washed separately.
If possible we recommend line drying your linens in the open air, but if this isn't an option hang to dry indoors. We don't recommend tumble drying your linens, as overheating can cause the linen fibres to become brittle, particularly with vintage cloth.
With linen, particularly damask, the best results are achieved by ironing while still quite damp, firstly on the reverse and again on the right side to bring out that wonderful sheen.
If you are unable to iron immediately, pop the napkins or cloth in a plastic bag and put in the fridge until you are ready to iron. This prevents mould from forming and keeps the cloth at the right dampness for easy ironing with a hot iron.
If the linen is embroidered be sure to iron on the reverse on a well padded ironing board.The embroidery will really stand out on the right side.
Try to deal with stains promptly, soaking your linen in a gentle detergent and then wash the item as soon as possible afterwards. If red wine is spilled during a meal, avoid the temptation to put salt on it as this will actually fix it. Instead dilute the red wine by pouring a little white wine or water on it, and then soak it as soon as you can.
Don't be tempted to rub the marks as this can be too harsh for vintage linens. Better to soak again allowing the fibres to open and allow the stain to be diluted.
For stubborn marks on white linen soak the stain with lemon juice then very gently rub in some salt, hang outside in the sunshine and let the sun do its work. Then wash the item as usual.
Do store your linens away from direct sunlight, preferably wrapped in acid free tissue paper if they are to be stored for a long time. Otherwise use an old pillowcase to store sets of napkins. Just fold them by hand rather than ironing into folds.
With larger cloths roll them onto a tube if you can. A piece of plastic drainpipe is a great base for a storage tube. Wrap it in some quilt wadding and cover with a piece of linen or cotton fabric, then you have the perfect tube on which to roll a tablecloth.
Don't be tempted to use starch if your linens are to be stored before using. Little critters like nothing better than starch to munch on! Linen itself is moth resistant, but the addition of starch removes those benefits!