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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Cleaning Crocheted Table Linens

By Dr. Laundry August 6, 2009

Q. I would like to know the best way to clean old yellowing hand crocheted table linens. Some are white, some are off-white, and one is linen with a floral embroidery pattern that was hand-stitched.

I would also like to know who carries Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 in powder form.

A. Old and crocheted linens should be dealt with carefully. I would start with a gentler approach, and work my way up to stronger options. You might consider doing them separately given the variety that you discussed, especially the colored portion.

First, I might try an extended presoak with Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster, our oxygen bleach with a hydrogen peroxide base. It is available in liquid and powder form, and the presoak directions are on the back label. The subsequent wash (with detergent and Clorox 2) should be at least warm, and consider hot as that would be an additional step that might help improve the cleaning. Also be ready to do another similar presoak as your results may not be complete. If this approach is not enough, you probably will need to kick your approach up a notch and consider using liquid bleach. Unfortunately, there is NO powdered version of Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 available, but that shouldn’t hinder you if you choose to pursue a stronger approach.

I also find that a lot of colored items can be bleached. To find out if these items can safely be bleached, I recommend consumers do the quick Bleachability Test (2 tsp. Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 in 1/4 cup water; apply a drop on a hidden area like inside seam, hemline or cuff; wait 1 minute and then blot with towel); no color change means it is safe to use bleach on the item.

Want to proceed? I would also consider doing a quick liquid bleach soak (1/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 in gallon of cool water for 5 minutes) then wash immediately in warm or hot water using detergent and 3/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach1. To complete the treatment, consider air drying.