How to Clean Antique Lace (and Other Delicate Fibers)

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How to Clean Antique Lace (and Other Delicate Fibers) - ReallyHandmade.com

I was recently gifted with a very large bag of antique lace. There are pieces of intricate tatting, lace hems, metallic lace made with the tiniest gauge of copper wire, ecru pieces, and also crochet and knit lace. I was having a lot of fun going through the bag, and I discovered that many of the pieces really needed to be cleaned before they began to deteriorate.

How to Clean Antique Lace (and Other Delicate Fibers) - ReallyHandmade.comI have seen vintage sellers online talk about cleaning lace and lace garments before, and it almost makes me shiver to see their cleaning suggestions. Bleach! Lemon juice! Salt! Eeeeeep! Noooooo! All of these things may quickly clean the lace and garment that it is attached to, but they will deteriorate and damage the lace in the long run. It takes a bit of extra work to properly clean any lace, but it is well worth it if it means not damaging the fibers.

Bleach is hazardous to lace because the harsh chemicals eat away at the fibers while they whiten them. It contains hydrochloric acid, which reacts with the molecular structure of a stain and destroys it. But bleach doesn’t discriminate between the stain and the fiber. When it oxidizes, it eats away at both. For many antique fabrics and fibers, this chemical reaction means that they will turn a deep yellow color, which is often times irreversible.

A lemon juice and salt mixture is another commonly used stain-fighter. Usually someone who recommends lemon juice and salt tells you to rub the juice and salt into the stain, and then set it out in the sun to brighten. Yes, it will work nicely on rust stains for some colorfast fabrics that you don’t care too much about. With an antique fiber, the lemon juice acid and the salt will keep eating away at the garment if it is not all completely washed away. Plus, vigorously rubbing lace in any way, especially when it is wet, will tear its tiny connecting threads.

Sunlight can be a good whitening agent, but think of what sunlight does to fabrics left outside for a long time. Exposure to ultra-violet rays breaks down chemical compounds, and even though it looks like the stains, smells and yellowing is the only thing breaking down, the fibers are slowly falling apart as well. Baking antique lace in the sun until it turns white is not the best idea for something that you are planning on saving or passing down.

Detergent and dish soap are two other common cleaners, but both of them can strip dye colors and weaken fibers. The softeners and fragrances that stay behind can be oily and deteriorate delicate laces.

The best solution for cleaning antique lace and other fragile fibers such as vintage quilts, antique or vintage clothing, and tablecloths or other home goods, is Orvus Quilt Soap. Quilters and professional lace restorationists swear by it.

How to Clean Antique Lace (and Other Delicate Fibers) - ReallyHandmade.comOrvus is sodium lauryl sulfate. It is a near-neutral pH solution that is biodegradable and contains no phosphates. It is used by some of the most famous textile archivists in the world, and is safe enough that you can use it to shampoo animals. You can find it in some quilt stores, online or even in farm supply stores, where it is often sold for cleaning horses.

Essentially, Orvus works by make water “more wet”. It allows water to connect with the fibers so that the oils and dirt lift and separate. It does not work as quickly as most other cleaners, and often times you will have to soak an item for several hours, and rinse and repeat until it is clean.

How to Clean Antique Lace (and Other Delicate Fibers) - ReallyHandmade.com

These were the lace pieces that I chose to soak. I did end up switching one of them out after taking this photo, because I realized I had a pair of lace cuffs that matched the large collar piece on the bottom of this image. I saved one of them and set it aside so that I would have a good “before and after” for comparison.

How to Clean Antique Lace (and Other Delicate Fibers) - ReallyHandmade.com

All that you need to clean small pieces of lace is a large glass or enamel coated bowl, hot water (around 115 degrees) and your lace.

When lace gets wet, it is extremely sensitive to weight. Pulling it up out of the water could result in tearing. If your lace is particularly delicate, then you should baste it between two layers of white mesh. When you baste the lace, be sure to use a white or ivory colored thread, to ensure that the thread does not bleed any dye in the hot water. Be careful not to put your needle thru any of the lace threads and break them. If you are washing a very large item, such as a tablecloth, then I would recommend that you read this article, which outlines basting the tablecloth to a large cotton sheet before soaking it. For small and strong pieces though, you should be okay to clean them without basting them.

How to Clean Antique Lace (and Other Delicate Fibers) - ReallyHandmade.com

Fill the large bowl with one teaspoon of well-mixed Orvus paste and at least a gallon of the hot water. Gently lower your lace into the bowl, being careful to not agitate the water.

How to Clean Antique Lace (and Other Delicate Fibers) - ReallyHandmade.comHow to Clean Antique Lace (and Other Delicate Fibers) - ReallyHandmade.comHow to Clean Antique Lace (and Other Delicate Fibers) - ReallyHandmade.com

Allow the lace to soak for at least 45 minutes. Once the time is up, place the bowl in the sink. Turn on the faucet, and using warm water, let it slowly run into the bowl and spill over the edges until the water around the lace is clear. This step may take a very long time. I sometimes hurry this up by holding my hand against the lace (softly) and pouring most of the water out of the bowl before letting it fill up again and again. The color of the water usually reminds me of a strong cup of tea.

Once the water is clear, lay the lace out on a clean white towel and let it air dry. Carefully block the shape of the lace on the towel, so that it assumes its previous shape. Make sure that no corners are folded under or stretched out.

How to Clean Antique Lace (and Other Delicate Fibers) - ReallyHandmade.com

This is what my lace looked like after soaking it two times. After it soaks, it will look a bit grey and dingy, but it dries to become whiter than it appears on the white towel. I soaked it two additional times after taking the above photo. The photo below, on the towel, is the color of my lace after soaking it a fourth time.

How to Clean Antique Lace (and Other Delicate Fibers) - ReallyHandmade.com

Once the lace was dry, it was considerably whiter. The collar on the top left has quite a bit of acid burn on it. It was probably never cleaned after being removed from the neck of a garment, so the body oils have continued to eat away at and discolor the fibers for many years. I will either soak it some more, or dye it a different color all together. How to Clean Antique Lace (and Other Delicate Fibers) - ReallyHandmade.com

Here is a comparison of the two lace cuffs to show you how dirty they were before soaking.

How to Clean Antique Lace (and Other Delicate Fibers) - ReallyHandmade.com

I’d say that’s quite an improvement!

* I was not endorsed or paid in any way to write about Orvus. I simply love the product!
  • I was given an antique, family-heirloom quilt and quite a few doilies that I had no idea how to clean. So I just didn’t! But this is quite useful, thanks!

    • You’re welcome! Be sure to click the link within the post to read more about soaking a large piece. You’ll want to do it in your bathtub, and also put a clean cotton sheet under it so that you can pick the quilt up out of the tub without putting stress on the quilt itself.

  • ellen

    I am guessing that you re-washed the lace after 45 minutes because the water got cold?? Or could you just leave the lace overnight in the soapy solution and avoid washing it 3-4 times? Thanks. Good post.

    • Thanks, Ellen! I change out the water after 45 minutes because it is usually really dirty and brown. The Orvus is different from detergent in that it doesn’t keep dirt separated from the lace. You have to rinse it out of the fibers, unlike detergent, which uses chemicals to keep it separated. If you want, you can soak the lace in the water for several days. I prefer to rinse it out more often though, mostly because I like to see how clean it’s getting, and also keep as much dirt out of the water as possible. Perhaps I’m impatient? 😉

  • Angie M

    Wow, that was very interesting. We live in farm country so I hope I can find some Orvus to try at the saddle shop. I don’t have any lace but I’d like to try it on my quilts. It looks very soapy & bubbly – I wonder if you could use it in a washing machine or would it create a Brady Brunch episode of sudsy overflow?

    • Yes, I think you should be able to find it with the horse shampoo. It has a different logo if you buy it from a farm supply store- it’s white lettering with a red background, I believe. You only need a tiny bit of it to clean really well, so look for a very small bottle/container of it.

      I don’t think I’d use it in the washing machine. I’m not so much concerned about suds forming, but the purpose of using the Orvus is to be kind to quilts and antique fibers that you want to preserve. A washing machine is really hard on worn fibers because it throws the weight of the fabrics against itself, which is hard on the fabric and the stitching. Have you ever put an antique quilt in the washing machine? I made that mistake a looong time ago, and the whole thing basically fell apart!

  • Ann

    What temperature is the hot water that you are using? Thanks!

    • I soak the lace in 115 degree water.

  • Elsa

    This is so interesting and informative, Amy. Now I’m interested to see how you end up using these pieces. I have a few lace pieces that I don’t know what to do with.

    • I’m not quite sure how I’ll use them yet. I think I have to find the right fabric to go with them first, but I’m definitely keeping my eye out for trend pieces that incorporate lace as well. I’ll be sure to post about it when I use them!

  • Great post Amy! I recognized that ingredient – sodium lauryl sulfate. It’s in my shampoo!

    • Thanks, Maddie! Yes, it’s often in shampoo and also in cosmetics. I wonder if it’s in bubble bath too.

      How do you wash your me-made bras? Do you soak them by hand or put them thru the wash?

      • Definitely by hand. I think they could make it through the wash, but I like to stay on the safe side.

        • That’s a good idea. I wash all of my lingerie by hand, especially my bras. I use a mix of hot water and Borax, and then hang them to dry. Too many people don’t realize how a washer and dryer absolutely destroy stretch lace and elastic.

  • Rasz Art

    Thank you so much for this post and such detailed instructions. I use a lot of older fabric when upcycling or using it in other projects. I never knew the lace could be cleaned!

    • You’re very welcome! Yes, all older fabrics should be cleaned. You never know what old starches and acids are weakening the fibers. You can fill up your sink or bathtub instead of a bowl, if the fabric you have needs more room.

  • whitedragonstudios

    I’ve not tried Orvus yet, my mom always used Biz and hot water for all the antique doilies and laces we ran into.

    • I know a lot of vintage sellers that use Biz because of the whitening agents. It makes the garments and laces appear to be cleaner, and it doesn’t take quite as much time to make something “white” as the Orvus does, because it may not need to be soaked long enough before appearing to release the acids and dirt. I do worry about the brightening agents in the ingredient list. If you’re not cleaning a family heirloom or a museum piece, then Biz is probably just fine. Although, I did learn from one vintage seller that if the fabric or threads are fragile, the Biz will make them more brittle once dried.

      • whitedragonstudios

        Fortunately, I’ve never had anything go brittle…perhaps it was that particular piece or not enough rinsing? I know the woman on Something Borrowed Something New uses oxygenated cleaners on the wedding dresses—would love to know which ones.

        • I’m glad your linens and laces have always held up well. I’d be curious to know what the woman at SBSN uses as well. The thing is, many cleaners will work to clean a garment or linen and make it whiter. The only questionable thing is whether or not it is leaving behind residue that will eat away at the garment over time, or even cause it to slowly yellow (which may take many years to happen).

  • zaroyana

    would this also work on silk? I have a white Japanese silk kimono that I am scared to take to the dry cleaners.

    • A kimono is a tough one. The main thing that you have to be wary of are the dyes used to decorate the fabric. It is very likely that they will bleed. I would look for a dry cleaner who has experience with cleaning antique silk.

      You may find some of the information in this article very useful: http://johnmarshall.to/blog/category/traditional-techniques/ If you scroll down, you will find a section on cleaning kimonos.

  • It is likely that is, but I wonder if it is a much higher concentration. Have you searched specifically for Orvus Quilt Soap? A small 8-oz bottle will last quite a long time.

  • This is a really good article on antique lace cleaning. Love the pictures. Have you found a good way to get ink out of vintage lace? I occasionally get pieces that have ink marks from price tags or careless handling.

    • Thank you! To remove ink, the best solution I have learned over the years is to blot it with rubbing alcohol, with a towel underneath it. Place the side that has the ink on it face-down on a towel, and then apply the rubbing alcohol from the opposite side of the lace/fabric, blotting it with a clean towel or cheesecloth. Move the lace around on the towel as the ink begins to come off. Now, with some textiles, the rubbing alcohol can cause it to permanently yellow, especially with cotton. You have to be very careful, and try it out on an inconspicuous area first.

  • Al Yarrum

    I have dry cleaned my wedding dress (white taffeta) with lace beading twice and noted that the lace has gone yellow. Would the Orvus cleaner cause any problems to taffeta, if I soak the bodice where lace is attached to the taffeta ? Thanks for your help, Al

    • Hi, Al! Dry cleaning can be really hard on lace. It’s a mixture of strong chemicals, so depending whether or lace is a natural fiber or synthetic, it can speed up the decay process, leading to yellowing.

      I am not sure what would happen with the taffeta fabric under the lace. It is most likely that nothing at all would happen, since the Orvus is very kind to fabrics. However, I don’t know the exact make up of the fibers in the taffeta, and depending on the construction of the dress, it may be interlined with muslin, which will shrink when you soak it, and ruin the fit of the dress. You could also get water spots on the rest of the dress, which would require much more cleaning to remove.

      My advice to you would be to leave the dress alone until the day comes when it is needed. If you wash the dress now, it may still yellow in the coming years, meaning you’d have to wash it again. If the lace is stable, and doesn’t appear to being more fragile over the years or darkening considerably, then I would keep storing it until it makes another big debut.

  • Laura

    Really helpful information here! It sounds like you’d recommend not dry cleaning a vintage wedding dress with a lace overlay? Mine has a satin under layer and the sleeves are unlined. It needs to be cleaned because it has that vintage smell but I’m nervous about trusting it (pre-wedding) to my cleaners. Does this method translate well to a lace dress like I’ve described or it is different than this technique for lace on it’s own? Thanks!

    • Hi, Laura! That’s a hard call on how to best wash your dress, because I don’t know the fiber content of the lace, or whether the dress has an interlining of muslin or not. If the dress does not contain an cotton interlining, then I believe you would be safe to wash the dress in your bathtub with Orvus. However, if you can, always test an inconspicuous area of a vintage dress before you fully submerge it in water. It doesn’t sound like your dress has any kind of coloring on it that could bleed (watch out for embroidery, beads and ribbons), but pay attention to the construction of the dress to make sure no part of it is made of cotton, which may shrink.

      If you do decide to soak the dress in your bathtub with Orvus, be sure to very carefully lift it out of the tub when it is wet, and to spread it out on towels to dry. If you try to hang it up, the weight of the dress may be too much for the old thread and lace to hold, which can lead to broken threads.

      After you soak it in warm water (not hot), and the water runs clear, be sure to rinse it very very well. You may consider having the dry cleaner professionally press it, as it is very likely the satin will be quite wrinkled. Spreading out the dress as much as possible will help to discourage deep, hard to press-out wrinkles though.

      If you are nervous about washing the dress yourself, you could look for a cleaner who specializes in the preservation of wedding gowns. Speak with them about how they would treat the dress and clean it, then decide whether or not to do it yourself.

  • Helen

    Hi Amy! I really am in need of some help with cleaning my lace dress that I got from Forever 21! 🙁

    I found your article to be interesting; however, I am not familiar with cleaning lace to begin with. Here’s my situation:

    I accidentally put it in the washing machine with my other darker clothes, and the lace came out yellowy-greyish (when I put it next to light, you can clearly see its awful colour). The overall dress is cream-coloured, and the lace layer is attached onto the outside of the dress, while the inside of my dress remains creamy-coloured like originally.

    I just put my dress in water using Oxyclean, and I am not seeing great results (but I am still waiting on it since it’s only been in the water for about 10 minutes). What do I do to clean my lace for someone like me? I really adore this lace dress, and I’ve only worn it once. 🙁 Anything is greatly appreciated! ♥

    Thanks,
    Helen

    • Hi, Helen! I’m sorry to hear about your dress mishap.

      It sounds like the lace on the outside of your dress is likely made of cotton, while the inner dress lining is made of polyester. This would be why the lace soaked up the extra dyes from your dark clothes, and the lining is still ivory.

      Because the lace has technically been dyed, you don’t have many options for removing the color run. Double check the fiber content of both the lace and the lining before you choose how to try to remove it. If the fabric is acetate, the bleach may eat away at it and therefore not be a good option to use. Also, if you put the dress in the dryer after washing it, the dyes may be set.

      There are products on the market for removing color run. I have heard good things about Carbona Color Run Remover, but I haven’t used it myself. There is another one called Dylon. I have had success with using bleach to treat discolored white garments, but I often also use a Dawn dish soap and baking soda mix, plus sunlight.

      Otherwise, you could choose to actually dye the dress, using a dye that will adhere to both synthetic and natural fibers. It may not be ideal, but it’s possibly your only option if you can’t remove the excess dye.

      Good luck!

      • Helen

        D’aww, thanks for your amazing reply! And nono, I never put my clothes in the dryer after machine washing them~ I get too paranoid about the washing machine that I can’t bring myself to risk it into the dryer as well, aha.

        Thank you for all the suggestions! I don’t know if what I did was bad, but I was in a panic, and I resoaked my dress 3 times in Oxi-Clean. However, each time, I would pour only about a tablespoon or two of Oxi-Clean, then soak the whole dress in warm water. In the end, the lace didn’t change much, but I’m afraid it is made of cotton, so the dye will be hard to remove. :'( Do you think me soaking it that many times will cause the lace to deteriorate in the future? My mother keeps telling me that it will…

        I will however try to look into your suggestions! Thanks so much for taking your time to reply! (Ahh, and even though you’re a beautiful, pregnant lady, you still manage to do the hobbies that you love. I wish you all the best, Amy! ♥)

        • You’re welcome, dear! No, I don’t think it was bad that you soaked your dress in Oxi-clean. It will not deteriorate from soaking, but if you use harsh detergents on it and don’t rinse everything out of the fibers, that could spell trouble later one.

          Also, whenever you do clean lace, always be sure to handle it with care when it’s wet. Don’t hang it up to dry, because the tiny threads that connect a lace motif are easier to break when the lace is wet. Always lay it flat on a towel or drying rack.

          Thanks again and I hope the color comes out!

  • Rose

    Hi, this is all very interesting because I have been trying to find out how to clean my mother’s wedding dress which is approx. 65-70 years old. I wore it and now one of my nieces is interested. Do you think this product would be ok as I have no idea of what the lace is made from.
    Also I am in New Zealand so may have to order it online if you are able to give me the name of a stockist.
    Thanks, Rose

    • Hi, Rose! Yes, I believe that Orvus may be fine to use on your mother’s wedding dress, however, as you do not know to fiber content of the gown, you will want to try it out on an inconspicuous area of the dress first.

      Does the dress have any colored embroidery, ribbons or other embellishments that may bleed when soaked in water? Does it have beads or crystal which may become lose and fall off? Are the threads holding the dress together sturdy enough to handle being soaked?

      All of these things should be carefully considered before cleaning the dress yourself. You may want to talk to a dry cleaner or other wedding dress restorationist before cleaning the dress yourself, to see if they notice any details that might make it not a good idea. Such as, if the dress has a muslin interlining or any cotton in the fibers, the interlining or fabric could shrink and the dress would be misshapen afterwards. Be sure to do lots of research before soaking the dress!

  • Al Yarrum

    Hi Amy,

    Thanks for replying re my wedding dress. I will keep storing it in box in blue tissue until it is needed. Regards, Al

  • CM

    Hello! This is so helpful, however I do have a question. In my particular case I’m trying to clean a very delicate stuffed animal, and it’s gray all over with a white face that is pretty badly yellowed. Will Orvus just remove the stains or bleach the whole piece? Is it safe to soak the whole piece in Orvus even though only part of needs to be white and the other parts just need stain lifting?

    • I am not sure if the Orvus would be able to clean a stuffed animal. Most often, stuffed animals are made out of polyester fabrics, which hold onto stains and discoloration. You may not want to soak it in water, especially if you aren’t sure what it is stuffed with and what any attachments are made out of (eyes, embroidery, etc). I would probably try cleaning it with a bit of good quality dish soap (Dawn brand works well) and water on the end of an old toothbrush. Dish soap lifts out oils well, which are likely what is causing the discoloration (hand/face oils on the stuffed animal). This way you don’t have to soak the entire animal, and it is easy to rinse the soap off with a very wet cloth.

      If the animal is made out of a natural fiber such as wool though, I would have it cleaned by a professional.

  • Jenny

    Thnk you so much for the advice! I had been panicking that I wouldn’t be able to wear my mothers dress for my own wedding as it is very yellow, but we now feel able to tackle cleaning it! I’ll try and take some before and after pictures to share.

    Thanks
    Jenny

    • You are so welcome, Jenny! Be sure to be extremely careful when pulling the wet dress out of the bathtub. It will need lots of support to not put strain on the stitches. If you have a large tarp, that you can cover with towels (that won’t bleed color), that will be perfect to lay the dress out flat on to dry. Take your time laying it out as flat as possible, so that you don’t put hard-to-steam-out wrinkles in the fabric. If it would help, you could stuff the bodice of the dress with a white towel.

      Good luck!

      • Jenny

        Hi Amy thanks so much for the advice. My mum and sister will be helping so we should have plenty of hands available to support the dress as we get it out. There are two particular brown spots on the skirt and i was wondering if it’s worth putting a bit of the orvis soap directly onto these? Also how long would you suggest soaking the dress for?
        Thanks again!

        • I can’t give you specifics about how long I would soak the dress or how I would spot treat the brown stains as I cannot see the dress/spots to evaluate them in person. I would not put Orvus directly on the spots, as it may cause the dress to whiten more in that area. Be sure that the fabric is a type that will dry well without spotting, setting permanent wrinkles, shrinking, or becoming off-grain.

  • Julie

    Do you think this method would work with a Satin and lace baptismal gown with hand embroidery?

  • Louise

    Hi – I have a christening dress that I made at school 50 years ago, and am now wanting to frame it. It is all done by hand with inlaid lace and a lot of drawn thread work. The basic material is still white but the lace has gone a yellow colour. I have just tried to soak it in a mild warm water mix with some liquid dish soap and small amount of bleach. I first tried it at the base of the skirt at the back, but the lace stayed the same pale yellow colour. So I them gave the whole dress a quick dip in the mixture to remove any greasy marks that may be on it, and gave it a good rinse in warm water. This Orvus that you talk about sounds very interesting – I wonder if we can get it in South Africa. your site is very interesting indeed.

    • I hope that you can get the Orvus where you are, Louise. I would hate to see the bleach ruin your beautiful handwork. Be sure that the dress is really rinsed well, or the bleach may continue to eat at your dress.

  • Kayo Frazier

    Hey there! I recently lost my mother she passed away a week ago. As I was going thru her things I came across an antique lace tablecloth that is musty, and severely yellowed. From what I could see there were no holes in the lace, it seems to be in good shape. I have 2 clarifying questions…1) I am unfamiliar with the “basting” that you mention in this article…Can you enlighten me? 2) You mention glass or enamel bowls…Is a plastic container like a tote ok to use for larger items? Thanks for your time.

    • I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of your mother, Kayo. Hugs to you and your family.

      1.) Basting is the act of running a stitch thru multiple layers of fabric to hold them in place. If you were to baste the tablecloth to a large piece of fabric (perhaps an old clean white sheet), you would lay out the sheet and the tablecloth so that they were both nice and flat. You would then use a white or colorfast thread and make very large stitches on the edges and down the tablecloth to hold it in place against the sheet. Don’t actually pierce the lace with the needle, simply weave thru it and pierce the sheet instead. The sheet helps to keep the lace stable, as it will be very fragile when wet.

      2.) Yes, a plastic tote or a bathtub would both be okay to use to soak the tablecloth. If you use the tote, make sure that you can easily dump it somewhere to change out the water and rinse the tablecloth once it has soaked for a while, and be sure to use plenty of Orvus for the amount of water your tote holds.

      • Kayo Frazier

        Thank you for your kind words & sympathy we are still in shock, but recovering slowly. Thanks so much for the information! Will use it when I have done some smaller pieces first.

  • Karen McCalib

    I have an old baby dress that is light blue cotton fabric with lace sewn on it. If I use this product to whiten the lace, what will it do to the light blue fabric?

    • I cannot say. I do not know what the blue cotton was dyed with, and if it will bleed. I would suggest that you try it out on a small inconspicuous area of the garment to check the colorfastness before dipping the garment into the Orvus solution.

  • cc

    What about vinegar and water?

    • I don’t believe that the vinegar would do much to take away extreme yellowing, and the acid in the vinegar may be harmful to much older fibers.

  • Gai Winn

    I have a lot of our grandmother’s lace doilies made with her loving hands and would like to know where to find the orvus soap as recommended in the article of restoring antigue lace

    • I purchased my Orvus thru Joann’s (the fabric store), but if you do a search online you may be able to find other retailers of it.

  • Jessica Pichard

    I have an old curtain that is less than twenty years old, I’m using it in my wedding gown. It’s a bit grey, and has flecks of glitter in it. I have no idea what kind of fabric it is and I am looking to brighten it up a bit without the glitter coming off.

    • Unless the glitter is woven into the fabric, a lot of it will probably wash off, no matter how you decide to clean the curtain, particularly if the glitter has been sprayed onto the fabric. You can try washing it, but you may want to have a back-up choice of fabric just in case it loses too much of its sparkle.

  • Jo

    This is such an interesting article thank you! Was surprised you use hot water as the advice I’ve been always been given is lukewarm & cold temperatures only but I often wonder if I’m limiting the action of the cleaning products I do use? I’m interested in knowing if anyone uses Whink which we can’t get here in the UK but I have bought when in the US & I’ve seen recommended on lots of different sites & articles etc. it contains hydrofluoric acid & have used it on occasions with limited success probably because I’m scared to use a lot of it. Other people use oxalyic acid crystals which are dangerous to use apparently & everyone here uses oxy powder from the supermarket but that does contain a bleaching agent. Amy any thoughts or advice on anything please particularly rust spots on lace which I seem to spend my life trying to tackle?!

    • The water temperature could be limiting what the products do, yes. Hot water usually opens up the fibers more, which on some fibers isn’t always a good thing, but on cotton and linen it’s great for releasing the dirt.

      You may have more luck using Mama’s Miracle Linen Soak (http://www.mamasmiracle.com/). The woman who started the company sent me a sample to try out, I just haven’t had time to write up a post about it since the baby was born. Hopefully I will soon though!

      • Jo

        Thanks Amy really helpful & thanks for getting back to me. Still waiting for my Orvus to arrive so haven’t been able to try it out yet. Could I ask you if by baking soda do you mean bicarbonate of soda? We don’t have anything in the UK called baking soda though we do have baking powder which is added to plain flower as a raising agent but I think it be that it’s bicarb that you’re referring to? Will have a look at the Linen Soak! Thanks again

        • You’re very welcome, Jo! I hope that you like the Orvus. Baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are different names for the same thing. Let me know if you end up trying the Linen Soak!

          • Jo

            Thanks Amy! Orvus arrived today & have been talking to Shelley c/o Mamas Miracle Linen Soak & ordering some too! Discovering your blog is costing me but hopefully will be worth every penny & save me a lot of time too in frustration hours! Will let you know!

          • Good! Not that I’m helping you spend money, but good that you’re getting some Linen Soak to try too. 🙂 Fingers crossed you find something that works well for you!

          • Jo

            Amy, have tried the Orvus.. Sad to say it hasn’t impacted on the pesky brown rust spots in fact on one piece after two soakings the spots started to appear, which happens commonly when I use soap flakes too. The Orvus doesn’t seem to offer more than the basic soap flakes I use though on an Edwardian petticoat & a lace flounce I think it restored the colour more. My ‘mothers miracle soak’ hasn’t arrived yet so I’m looking forward to trying that next! The brown spots are so frustrating!

          • Shoot! I’m sorry it hasn’t worked for you. I’ll keep my fingers crosses that the Miracle Soak does!

  • Tracey

    Hi just found this thread and wonder if you can help. I have a vintage dark blue suit with lace on collar and pockets. the lace is very yellow and I can’t remove it from the jacket, do you have any suggestions? Thanks Tracey

    • I’m sorry Tracy, but I don’t. Without being able to evaluate the garment myself, I don’t have many suggestions. I would be wary of soaking it because I don’t know if the dark blue fabric would run. You might take it into a cleaners and see what they suggest.

  • Christine Carlin

    I have a white lace dress. My dress is not all stained it only has a little in the front of the dress. Can I soak just the patch in the water or do I have to soak the whole thing?

    • I would soak the whole dress. If you try to soak only part of it, then that part may come out more clean than the rest of the dress and look very odd.

  • Handmade

    How many times did you try before get such a good vintage result?

  • Leslie

    do you think this would work on a communion veil? The “netting” part is yellowed along with the lace.

  • As I said in the post, I soaked it four times.