Saturday, June 19, 2010

How Do I Clean Vintage Tablecloths?

How Do I Clean Vintage Tablecloths? A Lesson From Dusty's Vintage

I am lucky to know the best Vintage tablecloth Guru's around, they sell under the name "Dusty's Vintage and live in New England. Michelle and Lori travel around the country and set up colorful booths with PILES of pristine original tablecloths that would knock your retro socks right off of you!

Linens That Are In Pristine Condition

When you look at the caliber of their linens, you are amazed to see how terrific they look. These women put a lot of time into their linens (something I never do). But I always wanted to know their secrets about how they prepare their linens for re-sale.

These gals are very sweet and have printed an instruction sheet for their customers on how to clean the linens, titled "How We Clean Our Linens". Notice they are saying what works for them. I am going to share their tips. Remember, nothing in life is guaranteed. With linen cleaning as well as everything else in give it a try!

"How We Clean Our Linens" By Dusty's Vintage

1. PRESPOT: on dry item, spray any spots generously with "Simple Green: full strength. Let sit for 24-72 hours.

2. SOAK**: in your top loading washing machine put one cup "Clorox Bleach, one cup of "Biz" and 1/4 cup of "All". Fill machine with warm water and agitate to mix detergents. Add linens. Soak for 3-24 hours. (DO NOT USE "TIDE").

3. WASH: When soaking is complete, let washer go through full cycle. (Normal cycle for print and gentle cycle for finer whites).

4. DRY: Dry linens in hot dryer.

5. IRON: Use light steam and "Niagara" Heavy Starch (blue can).

"Biz", "Simple Green" can usually be found at "Wal-Mart", "K-Mart" and "Target".

**With dark blues, purples, blacks and browns on the print use less bleach or no bleach and soak with the lower time.

Postscript: The "Chlorox bleach" part is scaring the heck out of me...but this is what Dusty's Vintage does. I welcome all of your feedback. Don't shoot me, I am the messenger. These gals must know what they are doing....their linens say it all!

More Information:

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C. Dianne Zweig is the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. She is also the Editor of an actively growing internet based resource community for people who buy, sell or collect antiques, collectibles and art. You can find Dianne’s fabulous retro and vintage kitchen, home and cottage collectibles at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT, a 22,000 feet antique emporium with an in-house retro cafĂ©.To read more articles by C. Dianne Zweig click on this link: C. Dianne Zweig’s Blog Kitsch ‘n Stuff Email me at dianne@cdiannezweig.comVisit my website, CDianneZweig.comDianne is a member of:The American Society of Journalists and AuthorsThe Authors Guild, Inc.


  1. Thanks for the post Dianne! I've been looking for ways to get some stains out of some of my linens! I recently heard that a combination of Biz and Ivory Snow works too. When I read Clorox, in your post, I shuddered a bit too!

  2. Very timely post, I just came home with a box of tablecloths from today's yard sales. Thanks for passing on the tips, I will let you know how they work out.

  3. THOSE vintage tablecloths are really going for big bucks these days. I tried to win afew off Ebay and golly gee they got rather pricey. I remember going to Goodwill and Thrift stores back in the 70's and they were almost giving them away then. They have become so popular and lovely in the kitchen. I have one now that I am gonna use as a bedroom curtain ;)
    enjoyed visiting your catchy Kitsch blog.

  4. Oh I want to go there - those tablecloths are just stunning!

  5. I am going bonkers over those table cloths. Loved checking out your blog, too! New follower here!

    Hope you'll stop by and see me at my Retro Weight Watchers recipe blog.

  6. Oh my! I have the top tablecloth in the second picture-its from my mother's kitchen!

    Interesting about not using Tide...I wonder why!

  7. Don't be afraid to use bleach on the vintage cloths. They were colorfast back then. It's only newer ones that you can't bleach.

  8. I don't know, I've ended up with a few vintage printed linens that have the print ruined by what appears to be bleach. Then again, I have a paranoid personality.

    Biz is great, and now I have Simple Green to try, thanks!

  9. Ohhhhh!!! LOVE all of these gorgeous vintage tablecloths! One of many of my weaknesses! I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I too use BIZ and Simple Green is an awesome all around cleaner in my opinion. I've always been afraid to use regular bleach even in knowing they older tablecloths are colorfast and have used non-chlorine bleach. If I can get up the nerve next time I might try the regular bleach. Thanks for the tips! The ladies must be doing something very right in caring for their old tablecloths because these are wonderful!

  10. I swear by soaking in 1/2 a tub of it, overnight. Works perfectly & has never ruined the material or pattern.