Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Get the Yellow Out!

I love vintage linens but I hate cleaning them. Most of them have stains of some kind and almost ALL of them have yellowed to some degree.  Some of them, like kitchen hand towels, had built up grease stains that would not budge no matter how many times I washed them.  After a lot of experimenting I found a method that works beautifully, even on badly yellowed grease stains.  It works so well I've been able to salvage almost all old linens and make them look beautiful again.  

It's very simple, it just requires water, OxyClean (or similar oxygen based cleaning product), a big pot,a hot stove and a pile of yellow linens.  

Start by filling a large pot with clean water.  Put it on the stove and bring it to a boil.

Once the water is boiling, turn the heat down to a low level. Just enough to keep it hot.  Add one scoop of OxyClean to the water. It will turn white and get a little foamy.  Stir it around a little to make sure it's well dissolved and start adding your linens.  Push them down in the pot and make sure they are completely saturated. Keep the water very hot and let the fabrics "cook" for a good 20-30 minutes (more for very bad stains). Stir them around from time to time to make sure all parts stay saturated. 

The water will turn a nasty yellow brown color-yuck!

Sorry it's so blurry.  The steam kept fogging up the lens.  This is the gross yellow water. I know you wanted to see this.

When the items are done, you can pull them from the pot one at a time or dump the whole thing into the sink. Rinse the items under cold water until they no longer feel slippery from the OxyClean.  You can either put them in a clothes dryer or hang them to dry.  And Voila!  Lovely clean linens.

This is the BEFORE shot of a badly stained tea towel. Years of wiping greasy fingers on the towel left it saturated with old yellowed grease.
and this is the AFTER. Nice and clean after a short soak in boiling water and OxyClean!


  1. Wow! awesome tip! I dye shirts, and the process is very similar... after learning this tip I may be less hesitant to wear white ;) sure clothes are different than linens, but this should still work.

  2. Can't believe the difference between the before and after shot! Wow! I wonder if this would work on my once-white chair slipcover?

  3. I can't believe the difference, and very impressed that the embroidery dye didn't run. Thanks for a fantastic tip!!