Cleaning Doilies

Since Hubby and Kalissa have their antique booth in Harmony, and Hubby is busy with field work, I’ve am trying to fill in his spot of him.  In light of that I’ve thrifted a little more lately and garage saled too.  At one sale I bought a BIG box of doilies for $10.  I am sure there were likely 25-30 doilies in the box.

I sorted through them pricing them good ones and tossing the bad ones in a basket with plans to try to clean them.  These are the ones that needed cleaning.

There were all sorts of stains.  Some looked like coffee stains….others looked like food stains.

I loved this doily and really hoped I could get it to clean.

I watched a youtube video that suggested rubbing the cleaner “Zout” into the stains.  Then soaking and washing in Woolite.  I decided to give it a try.  I started during nap time one day thinking it wouldn’t take long.  UGH.  I had more doilies to clean than I thought.

Well the kids woke up so I abandoned the doilies….and then the school bus came and chaos broke out.  Then all the parents started picking up their kids.  There were three kids left when this first grader saw doilies draped over the sink.  She asked what they were and what I was doing.  Before I knew it chairs were around the sink and this little one wanted to clean a doily.  Here she is scrubbing….

We soon discovered that we liked this product MUCH better than Zout.  It’s called Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover. 

As she worked, I told her that long ago there were no washing machines…and the evolution of laundry.  It’s fun to have the bigger kids around.  I sometime laugh at all the “after school curriculum” that are encouraged.  No curriculum here….some impromptu doily cleaning was what we did.  She had fun and I think learned something too!

She loved dipping and squeezing and scrubbing on the stains.  The doily she was working on wasn’t hand made so she could be a little more rough with it.  She ended up getting ALL of her stains out…see?


She was so proud of herself and was super disappointed that I didn’t have more doilies to clean.

I came out about 50/50 on getting stains out.  This one that was my favorite that I intended to keep…it didn’t come clean.  You can see one flower on the outside at the 8 o’clock position that still has a touch of yellowing.  UGH.  Oh well.  I’m happy half of them came clean.


I think I’ll be keeping Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover on hand.  I really liked it…and as for doily cleaning, I hope we don’t have to do it again soon.  It wasn’t my favorite task.

Does anyone have a sure fire solution on removing stained doilies?

27 thoughts on “Cleaning Doilies

  1. Barbara

    I use the Oxiclean white revive, the powder. I put the stained items in a plastic dishpan, add half a scoop of the powder and fill the pan , then let it soak overnight. I figure what have I got to lose, it’s stained and ruined anyway so I’m not cautious how much to use to clean the items. The next morning I put the items in the washer in the rinse cycle and then either air dry or put in the dryer, depending on the item. It’s amazing, like a miracle cleaner.

    Reply
  2. Maxine

    Recipe for turning “greying” polyester white again

    1/2 cup Cascade powdered dish detergent (automatic dishwasher)
    1/2 cup bleach (Clorox)
    Dissolve in 1 gallon of very warm water. Soak for few hours or overnight.

    I suppose you could try this on badly soiled anythings.

    Reply
  3. KimZ

    I remember my mom doing something with a pot of very hot(not boiling) water & cream of tarter. Don’t recall that it was for stain removal. I think it was for whitening old linens.

    Reply
  4. Julie Anne

    I agree with Helen. Try laying in grass in the sunshine. Google it. It was commonly used before electricity.

    Reply
  5. Diann Smith

    I use Vintage Soak for old quilt tops that have stains and it works well. Someone gave me many embroidered birds blocks from 1940s and they had yellowing from gas heat. Took it right out. Sold in quilt shops and I think online.

    Reply
  6. Ellie

    I’ve had good success soaking the staining lemon juice and then putting in the sun for a few hours. Thanks for the tip on Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover. Good luck.

    Reply
  7. Margie

    Oxyclean in hot water and soak 24 hours. The lemon juice and sun are also good. I don’t hand scrub. If there are stains after my two favorites, too bad.

    Reply
  8. Robby H.

    A chef friend swears she keeps her chef whites clean by tossing them in the washing machine with water and Oxiclean and letting them sit overnight. She washes them the next day and is ready to go. She says it gets out everything, even tomato sauce. I’ve had good luck with her approach.

    Reply
  9. Andi Lien

    Jo,
    my mom always used Fels Naptha soap with a nail brush to get stains out. I’ve used it with pretty routine success over the years. It got some pretty cruddy stains out of my kids clothes over the years.

    Reply
  10. Becky Gilliam

    I have used this solution before and it works – spray the spot with hairspray (it doesn’t matter what brand), scrub, add dishwashing liquid (I use Palmolive, original green). scrub that in. Reapply hair spray and dishwashing liquid again and continue to rub it in. Wash as usual in washing machine. I have had this remove stains 50-60 years old from fabrics without damage to the fabric. Good luck.

    Reply
  11. Betty Woodlee

    I soak in oxiclean and have had great results. Also sometimes I use Fels Napha soap use a nail brush or tooth brush. Here in Kentucky the soap can be purchased at Dollar General for the thrifty sum of $1.00. A bar of soap last for a very long time.

    Reply
  12. Betty from Canada

    Someone told me that you can get things white using dishwasher soap or denture tablets I don’t think it would be a good idea to mix them together as it may weaken the thread. Also you never commented about what you do with the scraps that are left over from de-boning shirts. Have a good Mother’s Day.

    Reply
  13. jean

    an overnight soak in water with buttermilk and lemon juice cleaned years of brown nicotine stains out of my MIL’s white polyester curtains. super white! soaked in the washer and ran thru next morning. good luck!

    Reply
  14. Caryn

    How about Retro Clean? It is supposed to work well on stains. I have had good luck with the Grandma’s for laundry.

    Reply
  15. Bonnie Lippincott

    Retro Clean is great. I have some Restoration that I’ve had for about 15 years. It lasts forever.
    While making a signature quilt with blocks my guild members signed, an iron went on the fritz and ended up scorching 4 of the blocks! We soaked them in Oxyclean but you could still see the marks. It wasn’t the end of the world, we had extra blocks that could be signed again, but I thought I’d take them home and try my Restoration on them. I let them soak overnight and they came out perfect! The scorch had not damaged the block so we were good to go.

    I collect old linens, lace, and doilies and I have been using this product for years! It really brightens them up as well as taking out stains. It works well on colored linens as well.

    Reply
  16. Chris Hamrick

    I was told in the old days they would soak them in coffee. Then you have a brown doily .
    I found a real old made by my husband’s grandmother. It had a stain on it and I won’t to frame it but it had a stain. Well I did frame it. But with stain and all.

    Reply

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