Caring for Antique Linens

Beautiful embroidery goes hand in hand with beautiful linen, and this is the perfect time of year to find antique linens at flea markets, estate sales, and yard sales.

There’s nothing like the feel of antique linen. It could be that it’s pure nostalgia. More likely, it is because it is a fine-quality fabric that has withstood the test of time. Silky soft, but extremely strong as only natural fibers can be. The more you use linen, the better it feels.

Antique Damask Linens

Damask towels. Damask texture details are hard to see, but both have hemstitching
and one has cotton tatting.


Antique Damask Linens

Damask details may be hard to see but are present in all but the lower
left sample that is plain linen. It has extraordinary mitered borders and
a family name written in one corner.


Aging stains are common, even if linens were put away clean. With care, many can be eliminated.

Tips for cleaning antique linens:

  • Soak in hot water with Restoration  until the water turns clear. It may take several hours to overnight. Drain and refill with water and a splash to a cup of clear vinegar. Soak for 10-20 minutes. Drain and soak with clear water for 15 minutes. ( from


  • LeBlanc Linen Wash is another suggested soaking agent.  Color-safe bleach or Oxy Clean are two other more easily accessible products.


  • The white vinegar rinse rids the piece of soap residue and should always be followed by one or two clear water rinses.


  • Nearly all recommend washing by hand, not wringing out excess water, and drying on a line. If machine washing, use the delicate cycle.


  • Sun dry (nature’s bleach) by laying laundered linens on the grass or on a bush. This was a favorite practice during Victorian times and is practiced by modern-day collectors in moderation.


  • Press while still damp.


Ann the Gran has a great selection of new linen blanks and some great embroidery designs:


I'd love to see some of your favorite antique linens—Post them in the gallery!


Debbie SewBlest

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