How to Get Old Stains Out of Linens

Written by ashley friedman
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Linen is one of the most popular fabrics for tablecloths and napkins. This makes them especially prone to food, wine and other household stains. Removing old stains from linen can be very difficult, as the longer a stain sits, the more deeply it gets embedded into the linen fibres. That being said, it is certainly possible to lift out older stains in linens using a variety of basic household products.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Hydrogen peroxide (12%)
  • Paper towels
  • Hot water
  • Grease-cutting detergent such as Dawn or Palmolive
  • Large roasting pot
  • Wooden spoon
  • Two lemons, sliced into eighths

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  1. 1

    Place a drop of grease-cutting dish detergent on the stain.

  2. 2

    Rub the detergent in with your fingers. Rub very gently to avoid creating suds.

  3. 3

    Pour on enough hydrogen peroxide to cover the stain completely, saturating it. Before completing this step, you may want to spot-test the hydrogen peroxide on a small corner of the fabric.

  4. 4

    Blot the stain with paper towels until it has disappeared from the linen.

  5. 5

    Fill a pot with water and add the 16 lemon slices you cut.

  6. 6

    Bring the water with lemons in it to a boil.

  7. 7

    Turn the heat off and add the old linens, pushing them down under the water with a spoon so that the entire piece of fabric is immersed.

  8. 8

    Cover the pot and allow the linens to soak overnight.

  9. 9

    Hand wash soaked linens in the sink with grease-cutting detergent.

  10. 10

    Rinse thoroughly with warm water, and lay in the sun to dry.

Tips and warnings

  • For very old stains, you may want to take your linens to a professional dry cleaner. In general, time is critical when removing stains, so professional-strength chemical cleansers may be needed to remove stains that have had lots of time to set.

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