You are here: Home / Users / trisha.gedon@okstate.edu / Using heirloom textiles during the holidays

Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Using heirloom textiles during the holidays

STILLWATER, Okla. – With the holiday season in full swing, many people are decorating for this special time of year. As tubs of ornaments and other festive decorations come out of storage, it is likely there are a lot of memories attached to them.

Some of these decorations may be fragile, so you take extra care with them in order for the tradition of these decorations to continue.

Other special holiday items may be in the form of textiles that bring back special memories, said Mary Ruppert-Stroescu, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension clothing specialist.

“When you open the cedar chest and see your great-grandmother’s linen tablecloth, don’t sigh and complain about all the wrinkles, or say ‘I wish I could use that,’” Ruppert-Stroescu said. “Just as with other heirloom holiday things you use, these special textiles just require a little extra care. The fact that the tablecloth is wrinkled can be a sign of true linen and true quality.” 

In order to make that tablecloth look exquisite on your holiday table, set aside some time to iron it. Dampen it a little with a spray bottle, or simply by dipping your hand in a bowl of water and flicking water droplets over the fabric.

Ruppert-Stroescu also suggests using a little bit of spray starch to keep the fabric crisp and flat longer. Spray starch also will help protect it from food stains.

“Don’t worry too much if your guests get an oil-based stain on the linen. Simply put an absorbent white towel under the spot and blot it with a clean, white cloth until all obvious oil is absorbed,” she said. “Next, immediately sprinkle the spot with salt or nonperfumed baby powder and let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until you see caked-up powder. Brush off the powder with a small brush, such as a clean toothbrush. Repeat this process until there is no more caking. This step should be followed by rubbing the spot with a heavy-duty liquid detergent and laundering immediately.”

Tannin-based stains, such as wine or coffee, should be treated in the same manner as an oil-based stain to blot away the excess liquid. However, only use the salt method, not powder. Once the excess wine or coffee has been absorbed, stretch the stained area of the tablecloth over a bowl, secure with a rubber band and pour boiling water over it. Next, pretreat with a stain remover and launder right away in hot water.

Candles have long been a favorite way to dress up your dining table. If you happen to drop wax on the heirloom textile, the best thing to do is wait for it to dry. Try putting an ice cube on the spot to make the wax brittle. Then, take a dull knife and scrape away the wax. 

“Despite what you may have heard, don’t iron the wax spot between two paper towels. The heat will drive the wax deeper into the fibers,” Ruppert-Stroescu said. “As you prepare to set your table for this year’s festivities, go ahead and use those heirloom linens and cherish the memories.”

###

Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
136 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)
trisha.gedon@okstate.edu

 

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000