Linen has the endearing quality of keeping clean, shaking off most day-to-day stains and off odors, but what to do when it needs a little extra help from its human?
DEALING WITH STAINS
Body oils and stains from humans and pets alike should be treated with enzymes, so it is good to know that detergents from The Laundress all contain enzymes - yes they are expensive, but they are ultra-concentrated so you use very little, which is a good thing.
If you have yellowing from body oils (a testosterone problem mainly) or stains from lotions and make-up, try an overnight soak in well-dissolved Biz. Biz is a peroxide soak with enzymes, and it is the enzymes which break down oils and proteins from lotions and makeup. You can buy it online, or at enlightened stores (are you still with us? This is riveting stuff!)
You know all the fine print on laundry products? It’s there for a reason, so test on an unobtrusive spot if you are in any doubt. If you make a paste of a dry product, or use a detergent undiluted, there is a risk of lifting color as the mixture is strong. With Biz, I dissolve it well, dilute it and use an overnight soak. That will treat the whole cloth, and if anything is going to happen to the color, it is happening to the whole item, not making a mark in one area. This is especially important on natural linen, as it is truly straight from the field - dyed items are far more stable. Even with white, I always treat the whole item to avoid livid blotches.
For a stain like blood or mascara, I use Shout. I have experimented, spraying it on natural linen and letting it dry, and the colour is unaffected, so I use Shout with a lavish hand. Blood should be spot-treated immediately with Shout, and cold water is really important here.
Some people wonder why I advise against chlorine bleach, and Tide, this is why: bleach turns natural linen sickly yellow, and Tide turns it pink. Tide is formulated for synthetics which can sequester dingy discoloration and off odors, it is harsh on natural fibres. If you really must, you can use bleach or Tide on white linen, just make sure it is well dissolved/diluted to avoid blotches.
I tend not to use OxiClean as it has peroxide bleach but no enzymes, so Biz wins.
Another fail-safe but fiddly method is the old-fashioned boil-wash, brilliant for yellowed pillowslips. Put the items into a big pan of water with a very small amount of detergent, dish soap will do it, and gently simmer for around half an hour. Too much detergent or too high a boil will give you suds everywhere. Drain and wash as normal in the washing machine, feeling very pioneer woman all the while. Hang to dry until you are sure the discoloration is gone, as the dry heat of a tumble-dryer can set stains.
Another time-tested technique? Hang your white linens outside in the sun.
So, in summary:
Comments will be approved before showing up.