Removing mystery stains from vintage crochet

linnea56October 16, 2013

I am considering buying a vintage ecru crochet tablecloth I found online. I am very interested in this particular piece because it matches some other pieces I have. I am planning to use it as a bed coverlet, not a tablecloth. I have not seen it in person. However, there are stains right in the middle, which would therefore be impossible to hide. I would like to know how to remove them. I know I have done a few small stained pieces I already own, and the stains were very hard to get out without using bleach then having to re-dye them with tea. Even then, there was a trace left. It would be a huge pain if I had to bleach something this big and then try to re-dye it. I would have to do the whole thing, as bleaching really could not be done selectively. For all I know these could be years old, and may be set. They are brown and could be coffee or tea. I am motivated to do it if it is possible, though.

I am testing some small inexpensive pieces I have now, in Biz. I figure whatever stains might be on vintage crochet table linens, are probably much the same type. However, the stains on those are not budging even after soaking for 2 days in a concentrated solution. Next I will try Oxyclean. If I can't come up with a system that works consistently, I had better pass, even though I WANT this one due to the matching pattern.

Thanks for your help!

Here is a closeup of one of the stains: I asked the seller for this:

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Spray with Resolve and rub gently and then soak in warm water. Repeat this procedure several times. Its worth a try I recently got rid of some real stubborn stains like this.Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 10:54AM
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I'm not sure I have ever heard of Resolve. I will have to look for it.


The stains on on my sample pieces did not budge even after soaking for 3 days in a concentrated solution of Biz. Now I am trying Oxyclean. After 12 hours in Oxyclean: for 1 piece that had a minor light stain, the stain is gone. 3 pieces with more serious darker stains similar to the one I want to buy, are still there and unchanged.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 2:46PM
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Forgot to tell you also try Clorox2, its a good stain remover.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 8:18AM
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I've seen old ones stained with gravy too so that is hard to get out. I remember mom struggling to get her tablecloths clean after someone got gravy on them, so some could be grease stains

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 1:31AM
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I have had some luck with soaking in OxiClean all day, then in a solution of Dawn dishwashing liquid over night, then OxiClean all day, and Dawn again at night. This was with some old linen napkins with crochet lace inserts, of my great-grandmother's that had both food and grease stains. Those stains had been setting for at least 50 years.

It took a couple of days and there are still a few faint spots on some of the napkins, but you can't see them in ordinary use. This also worked on an old linen tablecloth.

You could also try putting the items outside on a sunny day. Sun is a very good bleaching agent.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 10:14AM
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I like to soak vintage linens in Orvus Equine Soap. As Camlan wrote, drying in the sun also helps fade stains.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 6:57PM
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I have wonderful luck with plain Dawn. Just rub in and let set until next washing. I don't usually have to do that though, just rub in and wash. I have gotten lots of grease stains out of tableclothes this way. And I have no idea how long the stains had been there as I bought them from garage sales or thrift stores. I have heard that peroxide with Dawn does well also, but have never tried it. And as Camlan stated, hanging linens on a very sunny day does wonders also. Good luck! :-)

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 12:57PM
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Please be careful with the products you choose. Commercial bleaches and detergents, even oxygen-based ones, are WAY too harsh to use on delicate crochet. If they will remove mold from a plastic lawn chair, you know they are strong! They will damage the fibers in your fabric, even though you can't see the damage at first. Don't ruin your tablecloth while trying to save it.
I have had good luck with Mama's Miracle Linen Soak, which is a very gentle product made just for vintage and antique linens. It removes even old, set-in stains without damaging the item. It really works!

Here is a link that might be useful: Mama's Miracle Linen Soak

    Bookmark   October 27, 2014 at 1:16PM
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