How to Whiten Yellowing Lace

Updated February 21, 2017

Lace adds beautiful detail to clothing, doilies, tablecloths and more. However, lace can yellow over time, and some household cleaners and detergents can damage delicate lace. Fortunately, cleaning lace is an easy process. Use a chlorine-free, low-alkaline cleaner to wash you yellowed lace. Before you know it, the lace will be as bright as new.

Line the sink with a clean towel. The towel will be used to remove the wet lace from the sink and prevent it from stretching out of shape.

Fill the sink with lukewarm water and a mild cleaner, such as a sodium lauryl sulphate product that is free of chlorine bleach. Use the amount recommended on the label.

Let the lace soak for 45 minutes to 1 hour without stirring.

Drain the water from the sink, and rinse the lace under lukewarm running water while continuing to let the water drain. Do not refill the sink.

Continue rinsing until the water is clear and clean with no sign of suds. This may take up to an hour for a large tablecloth.

Use the towel like a hammock to pick up the lace and remove it from the sink. Carry the lace in the towel. Wet lace is fragile, and this will help protect it from stretching or tearing.

Transfer the lace to a dry towel, and let the towel absorbed much of the water. Then, spread the lace out on a flat surface and gently make sure it is properly shaped.

Allow the lace to dry completely. When the lace is dry, store it wrapped in unbleached muslin, white cotton sheets or acid-free tissue paper.


If your lace is a valuable antique item, contact a local museum and ask what the museum uses to clean and restore lace. Follow the directions on the label of the cleaning product being used.


Sun-drying lace or using lemon juice can whiten the piece, but over time these methods may cause the material to weaken and disintegrate. Read all warnings on cleaning products, and test the product on a small area of the lace before washing the entire piece.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean towels
  • Mild, chlorine-free, low-alkaline cleaning product
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About the Author

Rebecca Kling is a Chicago-based performer and educator. She's a graduate of Northwestern University's Department of Performance Studies, a theater instructor around town and an independent performance artist. Her written work has been featured in Court Theater's "Review of Classic Theater," "Chicago IRL" issue #1. Kling is also syndicated through the BlogHer network.