Care and Maintenance of Linens
Linens have many uses. They make excellent table cloths, bedding, clothes, napkins and so much more! When hosting events, guests can leave your table cloths and other accessories stained with food and wine. Children can turn a beautiful white cover into something you just want to throw away after. It’s financially worthwhile to know how to care for your linen inventory. With the proper care, you will get longer use and find yourself not needing to replace them so often.
The sooner you can tend to stains, the easier it will be to remove. Any residue that has solidified on the surface should be scraped off gently with a spoon. Rather than regular soap, use a chemical solution made from baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice. Lay a towel underneath the material and sprinkle baking soda on the stain. Add a little vinegar on top of the baking soda and blot gently. Lemon juice can whiten areas with stains. Squeeze a little juice on the discolored areas and let it sit until you see it begin to lighten. DO NOT rub a stain. Rubbing will only help the stain set into the linen.
Wash Them Properly
First, you need to make sure you are washing them properly, not just tossing them in the machine with all your other fabrics and walking away. Dry cleaning is the preferable method, but let’s be honest, the oldest natural fibers of your linen materials have been around a lot longer than any dry cleaners.
It is best to separate your linens by color and size. Then, wash the larger, similarly colored, pieces together. Make sure to wash them on a gentle cycle and with a gentle detergent. If you have soft water too that’s even better. Soft water lacks many of the contaminants and minerals seen in hard water. It’s also good for the skin since it doesn’t contain those drying chemicals and will leave your linens feeling, well, soft!
As for your smaller pieces (such as napkins), these are best to just wash by hand. So roll up your sleeves, fill up your sink with lukewarm water, and then use the same gentle detergent you used for your larger linens.
Drying & Storage
When machine drying your linens, there are a few things to know. First, don’t dry your linens with high heat. It is best to let them tumble dry on a cool temperature. If you dry them on high heat, they will become stiff and unnecessarily wrinkled. Second, do not let the dryer run it’s entire course. Take your linens out about three quarters of the way through the drying cycle (i.e. when the linens are still slightly damp). Hang them on an indoor line or lay them flat on an indoor surface to finish drying.
Now you have clean and dry linens, but how you store them is also important. Keeping your freshly laundered linens in a cool, dark and dry place will help to keep them fresher for longer, as well as help you avoid any sort of mildew. Additionally, avoid storing your linens in any sort of plastic container — especially bags — as this can cause the natural fibers in your linen to “yellow”.
As you can see, it is easy to ensure your linens stay fresh and look their best. All it takes is a little time, care and attention.
If you do in fact damage your linens permanently, check out this guide on What To Do With Your Damaged Rental Linens.