How to get stains out of linen fabric
Like us, you love linen because it's hard-wearing and easy to care for. Being machine washable takes a lot of the hassle away when cleaning your linen tablecloths, napkins or home textiles. But what happens when there's a stain that normal washing can't get out? From the dreaded red wine spill to rich sauces, grass stains and wax drips, we'll help you get your linen homewares and clothing sparkling clean again.
Don't panic – follow these tips and you'll be able to get your linens looking tip-top.
The main thing to remember when trying to treat a stain is to act as soon as possible. This prevents the stain from bedding into the fabric, and gives you more chance to get the garment clean. Once a stain begins to dry it's harder to get the garment clean again. Taking stain removal steps within 30 minutes of the spill or mark will significantly improve your chances of success.
As quickly as possible, when you see a spill, scrape off any excess food or liquid. Blot the spill with a damp cloth and a dot of washing up liquid. Do not rub as this will make things worse.
So, what's the best stain remover to use on linen? Read this post for the low-down on getting your laundry and linen looking beautifully clean.
Natural stain removal for linen
Before you resort to harsh chemical solutions, try these natural methods for removing stains from linen fabric - whether that's table linen, clothes or household textiles:
Corn starch and baking soda
If you're eating a meal and some gravy or sauce is spilled on a linen tablecloth, napkin or clothing, grab some corn starch or baking soda and sprinkle it onto the spill. This will help absorb the liquid. Rinse and then wash the garment or textile in cool water with your normal laundry detergent.
Pre-wash or soak a linen article with oxygen bleach in cool water to break down stains. If the fabric is a dark color check that this type of product is appropriate for that fabric as even natural bleach may lighten the color.
Adding white vinegar to your normal wash can refresh and revive your white laundry (particularly if it's started to go grey or yellow). But it's also great for treating stains. As with corn starch, remove the excess spill and then dab the fabric lightly (again, don't rub) with a clean cloth soaked in white vinegar. Wash in cold water to prevent the stain setting. Repeat the wash if necessary.
If there's a wax drop or spill on your linen fabric, treat it by following these simple instructions. First, put the fabric into your freezer to harden up the wax. Then scrape off any excess wax. Place white kitchen paper or white paper towels on either side of the fabric and stain. Press the paper on top of the stain with an iron, on as high a heat as your garment will allow. The wax and oils will transfer onto the paper.
Splash the fabric with water to see if there is any residue – the water will run off any remaining wax. If there is residue, repeat this process. Wash the item as per the instructions on its care label.
Avoid using bar soap to treat a stain as this will only set the stain within the fabric. Hot or warm water will set the stain, so always use cold water for the initial wash when removing stains.
Other types of stain remover
If a natural method hasn't worked or isn't available, there are other ways of treating stains.
This is a household product that you might have in your medical cabinet. It's also good for treating stains, but be aware that it will lighten any fabric its used on. Pour or spray the required amount of hydrogen peroxide onto the stain and allow it to soak in. Wash the item as usual.
If your garment is dry clean only or you've tried washing and it hasn't worked, take it to your dry cleaner. Tell them what the stain is, and they will be able to choose the right chemicals to treat it. Don't leave it too long as once the mark has set it will be harder to remove.
Chemical bleach can be used to remove stains on light colored fabric. But it's not recommend for use on linen fabric for clothing or other textiles as it can damage the fabric fibres. Use with caution and follow the instructions on the product as well as your garment.
Remember, the key is to tackle a stain quickly! With these tips we hope you can enjoy your linens and home textiles without worrying about cleaning them.