Restoring Vintage Linens

Welcome to the 77th Metamorphosis Monday!

I’m excited to share an awesome metamorphosis with you this week. Susan, whose blogs at, My Place to Yours, loves finding old linens that appear ruined and ready for the trash heap…and saving them…restoring them to their original state. Have you ever wondered if and how this could be done with stained vintage linens? Susan is going to show us today, then you’ll be able to do this right at home the next time you come across a lovely old piece that’s in need of some TLC to be beautiful again. Here’s Susan to tell us how:

Susan shared:

I love auctions because I just never know what I’ll find! Recently, I came across an old Bates bedspread box. My heart stopped… could it be? Would I be so lucky as to find a beautiful old matelasse spread inside? And if I did, what would its condition be? The box looked REALLY bad. I held my breath as I opened it.

Oooooh, there was the spread I hoped to find! But it was dirty.

It was REALLY dirty … Those aren’t shadows you see in the pics; they are yellow stains.

OK, I’ll admit … it was FILTHY! But except for those “minor” stains, it was in perfect condition. In fact, it looked like it had never been used!

So I bought it! Everyone thought I was crazy, but they don’t know that I love the challenge of returning vintage linens to pristine condition. Still there was the question … Could this once-beautiful vintage bedspread be pristine again?

Let’s find out … Because I knew this project would require several soaks — and quite a bit of cleaning product — I decided to forego my all-time favorite linen cleaner, RESTORATION, and entrust this vintage beauty to OxiClean powder instead. The antique tub in my guest bathroom comes in handy for large items like a bedspread! I filled the tub with several scoops of OxiClean and lots of HOT water. (Notice the water temp… That’s a hint when laundering vintage linens.)

After thoroughly dissolving the OxiClean, I added the bedspread. Almost immediately, the water turned golden as the stains began to soak out of the fabric. I let it soak for about 15-20 minutes then drained the water — and started all over again. Another hint … When laundering vintage linens (or any fabric, for that matter), remember that the fabric is heavier than usual when it’s wet, and the extra weight puts pressure on the fibers. Lift the item gently to avoid damage. Also, never wring out the water; PRESS it out or carefully squeeze it out instead.

By now it’s Day Two, and I’ve soaked this spread several times. At first, I soaked and rinsed within the hour because the water was so dirty. Once the water stayed mostly clear, however, I let it soak 6-8 hours at a time, occasionally adding more hot water.

You can see from this pic that it’s looking much better! But the question remains … Will ALL of the stains come out? Let’s see …


Do you see any stains? Look closely …

Nope … I don’t see any either!

Not a single one!

Aaaaaah, success! Two days of part-time work — and another vintage treasure restored!

Susan, thanks so much for sharing this wonderful transformation! I had my doubts in the beginning, but look at this matelasse spread now! I don’t think I’ll look at those old stained linens in antique/thrift stores quite the same way anymore now that I know how to bring them back to life.

Be sure and check out Susan’s blog My Place To Yours!

I’m so looking forward to seeing your, Before and Afters!

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  1. Robin@DecoratingTennisGirl says

    The bedspread looks great! Very pretty.

    • The last few days I’ve spent soaking beautiful old linens, and just finished one of my favorite things to do. I ironed everything and they look and smell like new.
      I’m sitting in my bed and saw your site and of course had to watch. What an extraordinary job you did! It looks so inviting on your bed. Thank you!

  2. Confessions of a Plate Addict says

    Hi Susan! Thanks for the info! The end result is just lovely! I hope you are having a wonderful 4th!…hugs…Debbie

  3. I wouldn't have given that piece a second glance. It's amazing how pristine it now looks, not to mention totally beautiful.

  4. I love it! Wow, it's so great to see that stains from who knows how long ago can be removed.

  5. Tracy Suzanne says

    Hey Susan. Happy Independence Day! Hope you're out there having fun! Oh' this bedspread makes my heart skip a beat. It's so gorgeous and turned out wonderful. Thanks for sharing another wonderful Monday collection with us.

    Hugs…Tracy πŸ™‚

    P.S. Hope you'll stop by and enter the first of my blogiversaries giveaways.

  6. LAnderson (Southern Stitches) says

    WOW! What a treasure – it's beautiful!!!

  7. Oh yes Oxiclean is my friend too. I looove your matlesse! What a beauty!

  8. Happier Than a Pig in Mud says

    Wow, what a beautiful bed spread! How nice that it could be restored and enjoyed!

  9. GrannySue says

    I must admit I have no idea what "Bates" is, or what "matelasse" is but the spread turned out beautifully. I used to use a product called "perk" but it tends to be expensive for larger jobs. I have used Oxiclean on many vintage linens, and I usually use my washing machine on its most delicate setting. Of course it depends on the item. At any rate, this spread is just incredible.

  10. One Cheap B*tch says

    Happy July 4th! Oxiclean works wonders in my household! It looks fabulous now!


  11. Stephanie Lynn @Under the Table and Dreaming says

    Thanks for hosting – Hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend! Beautiful spread. ~ Stephanie Lynn

  12. Cottage Rose says

    I love using that for cleaning,,, and now after I have seen this wow I will be using it more,,, and yes I too will be looking at stained vintage lines differently…. have a wonderful 4th..


  13. DesignTies says

    Susan's vintage spread looks wonderful! I have some old linens in the attic… maybe it's time to pull them out and restore them!!
    Victoria @ DesignTies

  14. Shugee @ Blue Heron Cottage says

    I am so impressed! It's so wonderful when something as lovely as this can be restored and brought back to it's original beauty and not go in the land fill when it's still a perfectly good item.
    Bravo for the restoration. What a beautiful pattern and it looks gorgeous. What a rewarding feeling it must be to restore something as nice as this.

  15. Thank you for sharing the hints for cleaning such a scary looking bedspread!

    It turned out truly beautiful!

  16. Blue Creek Home says

    I can't believe she got all of those stains out! I have had some luck with Oxi Clean…I think I don't let them sit long enough.
    The bedspread and the bedroom are so pretty!


  17. Cabin and Cottage says

    Hi Susan! This is such a great post! I specialize in vintage linen in my shop and people often comment on how pristine the linen is. The long soak in Oxyclean works miracles! Thanks for hosting today! Jacqueline

  18. Rona's Home Page says

    What an amazing product.

  19. Annesphamily says

    That is quite a miracle removing those ancient stains. But what beautiful results she got! I love that bedspread! Thanks for sharing today. Anne

  20. Hi Susan! I hope you and your family have had a wonderful 4th of July weekend! Oh, thank you for sharing this. I've heard about the wonders of OxiClean and this certainly proves it!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia πŸ˜‰

  21. I love that bedspread. Thanks for hosting again. I hope you had a happy 4th!

  22. High Heeled Life says

    What a great post!! and that bedspread looks amazing!!! HHL

  23. Ann @ makethebestofthings says

    The bedspread is beautiful, what a wonderful restoration! And thanks for hosting the linky party each week. You're the best.

  24. What an amazing difference for this beautiful textile. Thanks for sharing the process. ~ Sarah

  25. a little bit of everything says

    You should be doing a commercial for Oxy Clean! I'm definitely picking some up. The bedspread looks fabulous.
    Do you think Oxy Clean would be safe to use on a 100 year old christening dress?

    • My sister soaked an old lace table doilie that had turned yellow over the years. She had found this treasure in a thrift store. Unfortunately after soaking in the OxiClean, it had a big hole eaten in it. I think for more delicate fabrics a natural solution or a professional restoration expert should be used. The MattelassΓ¨ was a much thicker Cotten and didn’t have any lace. There’s no way I’d use it on a 100 year old heirloom!

  26. Housewife Bliss says

    I am a clean freak and had not know about this product…I am off to make sure I have it in my store room. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Deb @ Confessions of an Ugly Mom says

    Thanks for posting about that gorgeous matelasse — it reminds me of my grandmother's, which I regret not keeping and saving. These treasures just need a little love. Thanks for hosting!


  28. myplacetoyours says

    I'm glad everyone is enjoying my bedspread restoration! Thanks for your nice comments. Between Naps on the Porch has such lovely followers!

    To "a little bit of everything"… How wonderful to have a 100-year-old christening gown in the family! Usually when I launder vintage linens — and certainly when I launder items with that much significant history or age — I prefer to use a product called RESTORATION. It is also a powder and works similarly to OxiClean, but it's gentler and often works faster than OxiClean. I've also found that over time the linens cleaned using RESTORATION don't yellow as quickly when stored. (The only reason I didn't use it on the bedspread is that it gets pricey in really large quantities, and I knew I would need LOTS of cleaner to get out those stains!) RESTORATION is available in my Etsy store, and Susan was kind to provide a link on the blog. I hope you'll check it out! In fact, if you want to send me pics or have specific questions about the gown before cleaning, just contact me through my store. I'll be glad to help! –Susan (My Place to Yours)

  29. Wow! That was quite a transformation. It is gorgeous! I will have more faith in Oxiclean from now on…Christine

  30. Lori@ Paisley Passions says

    The bedspread turned out great! Thanks for hosting the linky party.

    ~Lori S.

  31. WOW! Mr. Clean would be PROUD!!!!

  32. Wowsers!! That bedspread looks great!! Thanks for hosting! πŸ™‚

  33. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says

    What a difference! I didn't think it would get all the stains out, but I guess you can't give up easily on vintage linens like this piece.

  34. A Hopeful Heart says

    The bedspread is beautiful!! Thank you for sharing how to clean those old linens. This is such wonderful info.


  35. Happy holiday ladies. I am a user of oxiclean and it has cleaned a very badly stained doily that I found while thrifting.
    I thought I would take this opportunity to ask for help with a laundry problem I am having right now. In my regular laundry, I had a new pair of capris bleed onto items in the whole load. Right now, everything (except the naughty capris) are in cold water with oxiclean…any ideas how to get the stains out? I would be REALLY grateful for any help you all can offer.

  36. Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) says

    I just posted your question on Facebook…we'll see what folks suggest. πŸ™‚ That's a tough one because the capris sort of dyed your other items. Soaking in Oxyclean are washing the other items in one of those color safe, all fabric bleaches may work. Check BNOTP Facebook page soon and see what folks say! πŸ™‚

  37. Its So Very Cheri says

    Thanks for a great party. I would love to have you come by and take a look at my KNOCK OFF White Flower Farmhouse –FAUX Driftwood Sailboat. entry #101

  38. myplacetoyours says

    Suzie, sorry to hear about your laundry problem! I suggest you go to this link and read about the Carbona Stain Devils Color Run Remover. It's a great product and has saved me a few times! The one "disclaimer" I'll mention is that sometimes when an attempt is made to clean a stain (as you're doing right now with the OxiClean), it works AGAINST the "correct" stain removal product and keeps the stain from being removed… but it's worth a try. Besides the RESTORATION mentioned in Susan's blog and available in my Etsy store, Carbona Stain Devils is another line of "must have" products that I keep on hand when laundering vintage linens. I find them at JoAnn Fabrics, but you can use the store locator at the above link to find one near you.

    IF you don't have easy access to that product, I suggest you try to re-wash the stained clothes in the hottest water safe for the fabric and put in a Shout Color Catcher sheet (or 2); that product should be available in your local grocery store. It MIGHT work… Good luck! –Susan (My Place to Yours)

  39. Cindy (Applestone Cottage) says

    Holy Cow!
    That bedspread turned out amazing looking! What a great metamorphisis to share!

  40. Wowee! Who knew Oxiclean could do that??? No wonder Billy Mays screamed so loud!

  41. Hi Susan…thank you for the info on cleaning items with old stains. I have a spread I'm going to try this with.

  42. tales from an oc cottage says

    LOVE this! Every inch of my living room and many door frames have a gazillion vintage napkins and table clothes drying…after some quality time spent with Oxy! It is a bit of cool!!!
    That bead spread is gorgeous!!!

    m ^..^

  43. Heaven's Walk says

    Wow….I never would'ave thought that those stains would come out! Incredible. I, too, have used OxiClean, but was never really impressed with it in my regular laundry. Now I will certainly take another try at it on linens that are stained! Thanks for all the tips today! I just love all the info and sharing that's done here in blogland. What a true sisterhood we all share! πŸ™‚

    xoxo laurie@heavenswalk

  44. Beverly @ My Sew Sweet Studio says

    I use Biz, but that quilt transformation inspires me to try the Oxy Clean method. Unbelievable. It is so beautiful now. I love to see old linens "saved"

  45. Christi @ A Southern Life says

    Wow, what a beautiful transformation. I hope that lovely spread finds a loving home πŸ™‚

    Christi @ A Southern Life

  46. Fifi Flowers says

    LOVELY spread!
    Hope you had a FAB holiday weekend!

  47. myplacetoyours says

    Beverly, there's a quilt wash product made by the same company that makes the RESTORATION for sale in my Etsy store. I recommend it over OxiClean for quilts — vintage or new. I don't currently have any stocked in my store, but if you (or anyone else) is interested, I can get some. It also comes in a 2 lb. jar and is just a few dollars higher than RESTORATION. You can email me through my store if you want more info or need product. –Susan (My Place to Yours)

  48. Ashley @ Little Miss Momma says

    Will you please head over to my house and work your magic on all my stained items? *wink*


  49. Hi Susan,
    Thanks for hosting, and for sharing this interesting site with us! I can't believe the transformation of that beautiful bedspread – amazing!
    I hope you had a great 4th – have a good week!
    Heidi – Heart and Home

  50. How amazing! I never would have thought that would come clean, and I probably would have given up after the second soak – beautiful!

  51. That's a great job on the bedspread !

    Now I'll make a guilty confession – the idea of touching or using something someone else stained just SKEEVES me – lol ! I keep thinking body fluids and gross stuff and ewwwwww… couldn't do it. Wish I could, because there are some very cool things out there like this spread. I keep seeing folks going to thrift shops and such in blogland, but double ewwwww on bringing it home !

    I'll have to live vicariously through all your gorgeous homes ! Thank you for continuing to host Met Monday – it's just awesome !!!!


  52. Linda (Nina's Nest) says

    Susan, what a gorgeous spread. Thanks for sharing how Susan restored it. It would have been a real shame if that had been thrown out. It is one of the prettiest matelasse spreads I have seen. Linda

  53. what a great job. need to remember how to do this. thanks

  54. Thanks so much for hosting this party and also the fabulous tips on cleaning fabric. What an incredible transformation!

  55. myplacetoyours says

    LOL! Gena, you aren't alone! Believe it or not, I'm very picky about what I bring home. Most of the time, the yellow-brown stains on old linens are just oxidation stains — the result of poor storage. (That was true for this unused bedspread.) Linens stored in cardboard boxes turn a nasty brown over time; those stored in plastic bags or containers are at risk for mildew… Maybe sometime Susan will need a break and we can do a feature on proper linen storage. πŸ™‚ –Susan (My Place to Yours)

  56. Sherry @ No Minimalist Here says

    I would have passed right by this piece thinking it would never come clean. I will try this process on a couple of napkins that belonged to my grandmother. Thanks
    xo, Sherry

  57. We used to use Oxiclean …I never pass by anything with stains as we have a special professional fabric stain remover that works in a snap & being in the feedsack fabric business, we can find some pretty soiled pieces.

    How lovely your spread … it came out beautifully … it looks fab on your bed, Susan.

    Have a lovely summer's eve ~
    TTFN ~ Hugs, Marydon

  58. Debra@Common Ground says

    Absolutely gorgeous, so nice to know it could be saved and loved again!

  59. Brambleberry Cottage says

    Beautiful spread! OxiClean is fabulous. I just did a post recently on how to use it to clean vintage bottles:

    Liz @ the Brambleberry Cottage

  60. craftyles says

    I 'm not in this party, but had to comment. I always wondered how you soak and clean old linens-I'm definitely going to try this on some of my stained stuff.Thank you!

  61. Rosanne Wiatrolik says

    glad I found your site today as I am a sacristan at my church; part of job is to take care of the altar linens & ecclesial vestments, some very old all very expensive. Need less to say I have much to learn since many of the persons who know ‘how to’ and ‘what to’ have passed away. So poor on the tips, book lists and how to s from cleaning, storing, ironing, everything to do with various linen as well as silk and other fine fabrics used.

    I also found that my mother didn’t have my wedding dress cleaned nor did she store it properly so now that I have it back well it thought it should be thrown away but this gives me hope I could learn to save it.

  62. Rosanne Wiatrolik says

    P.S. I need to get lipstick (some of the newer one are rather difficult without wearing a hole in the fabric) out of the linens. Think twice about the lipstick you wear to church and receive the blood of Christ. Thanks

  63. Your bedspread is just beautiful! It inspires me! I have an old, round, linen (it was my grandmother’s, probably from the 70’s) tablecloth that is stained with something pink – I’m not sure what. It is beige and the stains are all over it, in little sprinkles. I know it’s been washed and dried, in the dryer, several times. Is it possible to get the stains out? I know once something goes through the dryer, stains are much harder (impossible?) to get out. Maybe I could dye it brown? I’ve never dyed anything, before. Any tips, for that? The fabric doesn’t have any damage, it’s just got those ugly spots. It’s got a sweet little scalloped edge. I would love to use it, somehow. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks for your time. πŸ™‚

    • Hi Penny, I’m a little afraid to advise you since I don’t have a tremendous amount of experience with old linens. Susan who blogs at “My Place to Yours” shared the information in this post and she really knows how to handle stains in older linens. I just checked her blog and here’s her contact page where you can leave her a question: and here’s her blog: Hopefully she can give you some good advice on the pink stain. I once had a carpet cleaning company tell me that red stains are the hardest to get out of carpet so I know they can be tough. Hopefully Susan will have some ideas for you.

    • This bedspread does look beautiful after having the Oxyclean treatment, but notice that it was made of very sturdy, thickly woven cotton. For more delicate items be very careful because most commercial products, even oxygen-based ones, are way too strong. Yes, they get the spots out but in the process they often damage the delicate threads. You won’t even see the damage, but when the threads eventually break you’ll have a hole. My product, Mama’s Miracle Linen Soak is a very gentle soak made especially for vintage and antique linens. It can rescue even the dirtiest, most stained tablecloths, doilies, napkins, and other old fabrics without harming them. I hope you’ll check out

  64. Thanks so much for replying. I will ask Susan for her thoughts. Again, thanks!


  65. Melissa Raley says

    Have you tried this on vintage table cloths with success??

    • I’ve tried it with great success on lots of them. Some tips: As a rule the lace in vintage tablecloths is sturdier than the fabric itself. Still, you should check carefully for areas of “dry-rot” or shredding, especially on lightweight fabrics. If you find any rot, then you probably won’t be able to save the cloth because the fabric is too far gone. If you find tiny holes already there, then you’re OK to remove the stains but treat the piece very tenderly so as not to enlarge them. This means avoiding using a washing machine, not wringing the fabric but simply blotting it with a white towel, and letting it dry flat. If both fabric and lace are intact, then you’re good to go! There is a lot of information at, including ways to re-purpose items that have already been damaged. I hope you’ll check out my website.

  66. This is just the information I was looking to find. I’ve collected all of my mothers old beautiful linen, now that she no longer needs it, and have discovered it’s no longer beautiful… I can’t wait to give this a try, she will be so pleased when she sees it as stunning as she remembers!! Thanks so much!!

  67. if you want a gentler action mix 1 part oxyclean with 2 parts washing soda sometimes called soda crystals.
    20 mule team borax is another old favorite as are the amazing natural soap nuts.
    you put 5 soap nuts into a mason jar with some warm water shake up and you got saponin natural soap these can be used over and over again.

    i worked at the V&A in london one summer when i was young they would never ever use modern chemical detergents.

    simple products washing soda,small amounts castille soap,borax,baking soda bicarbonate of soda,small amounts of citric acid.

    never use any product with optical brightners it is easy to make your own variations. from a museum angle use of oxy product as the main ingredient would not happen,maybe at 20% levels.

    ancient linen badly stored for a hundred years for instance would be soakedin filtered water and small handful sea or rock salt for 1 maybe 2 days in a bath or bucket for a slow hydration of the hemp,flax fibers.

    then moving onto a mix of washing soda with maybe 20% oxyclean or less.
    then rinse then another soak in fresh water.

    much discoloration of modern whites are due to build up of detergent still deep within the fibers.not washed away because of washing machine overloading and way to much of harsh detergents used.

    make your own old fashioned more natural cleaners i say.
    soaking over time is important why rush something thats been dry and dusty for 100 years.

  68. Phyllis Bruce says

    A friend forwarded this link to me because I was trying to get a stain out of my Bates bedspread. I’ve been using this spread for 63 years and it is still beautiful and white but a yellow stain of unknown origin appeared a couple months ago.

    My regular wash did not remove it nor the “normal” dose of oxiclean. It never occurred to me to use a concentrated solution. I washed it again yesterday after first soaking with White Brite. No luck. Then I poured 3% hydrogen peroxide on the wet stain and its fading! I’m now waiting for a sunny day to finish the job.

    I’m so grateful that there are sharers in the world! I never would have even tried to clean that bedspread, Susan. You are an inspiration!

  69. What would be an appropriate way to dry an antique quilt after soaking and squeezing out? Mine happens to have a 4″ lace edging so I’m a bit nervous even soaking…but it does have orange staining and lots of orange dots.

  70. Janet Breault says

    1/2 cup Oxiclean, 1/4 cup Borax in warm water , rinse and soak again, and on the last rinse add 1/4 white vinegar. Items will come out clean.


  71. I have queen size sheets and pillow slips with a flange which I made from a heavyish cream cotton about 15 years ago. The turnback is tucked and embroidered right across with pink bullion roses and green stemming and I also inserted entredeux.The pillow cases are made in the same way with embroidery tucks and entredeux. They have been stored in my linen cupboard and I have found them with orange and brown spots and one sheet has pink marks as it was resting on another embroidered sheet with mid pink embroidery. I live in Australia. I dont want to bleach them on account of the fabric being cream and harming the embroidery. I would love to save them as they are really lovely.

  72. Nancy Cayce says

    I found my husbands grandmothers wedding dress in an old chest. This dates back to early late 1800 to 1900. It is cotton with lace inserts and has pantaloons. It also has watermarks. Would you be so kind to tell me how to clean it if it can be done although I don’t expect white I would like to display it. Thank you

  73. Katherine Hollada says

    Isn’t Oxi Clean a very harsh “cleaner”? I would be terrified to try it. I have my own Christening gown (67 years old) that is yellowed. Over a period of time I have soaked in cool water with a very small amount of lemon juice. Then it has to be hung in the sun. Has taken most of the yellowing out but still have to do it a few more times. No sun here for a few months to come. What do you think?

  74. Staci Branch says

    Hi there. I have a question. I have a cotton christening gown that is approximately 140 years old. What would you recommend for cleaning it? I’d like to clean it and have it preserved in a shadow box. I just don’t want to damage it with the wrong cleaning procedure. I saw the bedspread you cleaned and it turned out beautiful. Thank you for any ideas you can give me. BTW…I love the name of your sight. Thanks again…..Staci

  75. Linda Baker says

    Thank you for excellent instructions! It worked beautifully on 60 year old cotton tablecloths that had been stored in a cardboard box in a storage unit for years by my mother. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I was able to save them.

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