Old Southern Linens Wash Recipes

Antique Linens Care
Hemstitching. Skillful embroidery. Delicately tatted trim. These were the skills and accomplishments of our ancestors. A southern girl was taught the gentle home arts at her mother's knee. It was her pride to be known as a talent at her needlework, and each girl knew that her pretty creations would one day adorn her home and be a blessing to her family.
Many southern women cherish these hand-crafted treasures passed down through the generations but are unsure just how to care for them. Sadly, many beautiful heirloom linens remain stored away creating the tell-tale yellow-brown storage stains.
What so few know is that consistent use is the key to maintaining antique linen. Clearly, the more often you use your linens, the more you must wash them. Proper washing techniques actually keep your linens at their best.
Of Special Note
I have received more e-mails about all of the old southern cleaning products and toiletries I make, and I posted a bit about them.
I do indeed make my own dish soap, scouring powders, spray cleaners, antique linens wash, laundry soap, linen sprays, hand scrubs, toiletries, cold cream, bath products, body scrubs, work scrubs, dusting powders, sachets, etc. from very old southern recipes.
I follow the recipes from my family's old household ledgers and journals, and because they are a part of the original estate, I am hesitant to post the recipes or offer the products to readers.  It is both a legal matter and an issue of propriety.  I gladly share the recipes from the journals that have been bequeathed directly to me, and the following one is useful for infant clothing and linens, too.
Honoring Our Past
It is a wish of many southern homemakers to return to the traditional home-care practices. All the ease and convenience our quick, modern household chemicals, appliances, and cleaning gadgets have not created for us a more satisfactory existence.
Quite the opposite is true. Our modern methods remove us from the superior position of skilled homemaker to one of mere middle man. Just as the industrial revolution did away with skilled workers and made unskilled, assembly line drones, so too does a cauldron of someone else's chemical mix remove us from our task.  How long would one's clothing and linens remain in good form if all laundering concoctions were removed from market shelves tomorrow? 
Old Southern Ways
There is a profound grace found in the old ways. The slow methods offer a time for reflection and a task for the hand. These gentler generations benefitted from the quiet and the patience of time. It is a fitting tribute to these lovely, handmade linens to use the same methods for cleaning and care as their makers did.
What You Will Need
Table Salt
White vinegar
Old fashioned soap. I recommend Savon de Marseille, as it is unscented and all natural. Traditional bars of white castile soap work well, too.  However, ensure the soap is hemp oil free and fragrance free.
Cleaning Methods
Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Turn off heat, and add two sliced lemons and 1/4 c salt per gallon of water.
Add linens, cover, and leave overnight.
Repeat once more only if a significant amount of staining remains.
Hand wash with soap.
Add vinegar to final rinse to remove any residue.
Stubborn Stains
Rub a lemon half directly onto stain.
Cover lemon-soaked stain with salt.
Lay flat on a towel in the sun for several hours.
Hand wash with soap.
Add vinegar to final rinse to remove any residue.
What Not To Use
1. Bleach and bleach substitutes should never be used on linen. While bleach will remove stains it will also irreparably damage the linen fibers. Bleached linen will disintegrate over time.
2. Detergents. Dishwashing and dishwasher soaps and laundry soaps will break linen down.
3. Oxy- products. Many people actually recommend them, but I would never, ever use them.
4. Washing Machine and dryer. They are simply too agitating for linen fibers.
5. Starch. The beauty of oft-laundered linen is its superb softness. Starching linens creates an unnatural look and feel, and starch will break down linen fibers.
6. Hot iron. I do not apply an iron often, but when I do, I keep it at a very low setting and place a cotton towel between the iron and the linen. The beauty of antique linen is that it is softer and much less prone to wrinkle than newer linen.