Am I the only who missed the boat on spring cleaning this year? Recently, while lamenting all the laborious chores around the house we've been putting off now for weeks, it occurred to me that it wasn’t all that long ago that spring cleaning—indeed all cleaning—was much harder and more time-intensive than it is today. In the old days, before washing machines, we relied strictly on a washboard and Mother Nature to care for our heirloom linens—lemon juice or chlorophyll to remove stains, sunlight to whiten them. Fortunately, for all of us these days, simple, time-saving solutions abound, including one of my all-time personal favorites from our friends over at The Laundress.
When it comes to reviving and caring for the antique and vintage linens I’ve collected over the years, nothing beats The Laundress! Co-founded by my friend Lindsey Wieber Boyd and her business partner Gwen Whiting, The Laundress is an eco-chic line of specialty detergent and fabric care that takes the chore out of doing laundry. Long frustrated by dingy white t-shirts, ruined items from the dry cleaners and chemically treated cashmere, Lindsey and Gwen developed their own solutions to simplify and master the fine art of laundry. The result is a product mix of pure genius! Put simply, it's everything you could ever need to care for every kind of fabric you’ll ever come across.
If you’ve ever put off cleaning your great-grandmother’s chenille bedspread because you weren’t sure how to do it safely, then my favorite product from The Laundress will help you do the trick. The All-Purpose Bleach Alternative is non-toxic, allergen-free, and doesn’t rely on any of the harsh chlorines that most detergents do. That means it’s gentle enough to safely brighten colorful vintage linens like the green and white ones here—as well as all those beautifully embroidered hemstitch napkins you’ve been too afraid to use until now!
And to wash and revive light linens like the ones I used for this outdoor tabletop, I love the Whites Detergent, which keeps even the most delicate fabrics looking as good as new. So why not go ahead and dig out the "good" tablecloth and hand-pulled linens you’ve been saving only for special occasions? Antique linens are such a great way of adding character to new china, glassware and silver as well.
These days, not only do I no longer worry about ruining the linens I own, but I almost never pass up the chance to buy others just because they have a stain or two. I recently came across this antique linen table runner for only $8 at a flea market. Though sullied in a couple of places, the overall quality was outstanding, and I knew that with the help of The Laundress, I’d be able to restore it to its original condition. And sure enough, after cleaning it gently with the All-Purpose Bleach Alternative and drying it in the sun for a couple of hours, my old, vintage runner was as good as new! Just remember, it's concentrated stuff, so a little goes a long way.
Now that you’re getting used to the idea of using your favorite vintage linens day in and day out, why not go ahead and put together a complimentary mix of them in the powder room? Antique hand towels are not only a wonderful luxury for your guests, but using and reusing them is a great green alternative to disposable paper napkins. I love layering shades of white, all with unique edges, embroideries, hemstitches and even monograms.
Even the most treasured of family heirlooms—the christening gowns and baby clothes that have been passed down for generations—can be trusted to the care of The Laundress line. Lovingly restore the ones you have, then seek out vintage ones at flea markets and antique malls. They're far sweeter than anything you’ll find new today, and you can buy with confidence knowing how easy it is to restore the garments to their original beauty.
So the next time you encounter a hodgepodge box like this one at a thrift store, tag sale or flea market, take a minute before dismissing it as a lost cause.
Chances are, you’ll no longer have to pass on buying beautiful vintage linens because you’re unsure of how to care for them. As long as you unfold them completely and inspect them carefully for rips and holes, you’ll most likely come away with linens to last you a lifetime! Happy spring cleaning, everyone!
greetings Eddie –
I just discovered you via Sharyn Sowell. What a delicious blog you have – one I know my readers will enjoy visiting, so I took the liberty of adding your link to our community of beautiful & creative people.
I’m convinced… great post!!
I think Barbara carries The Laundress at Daisys.
Have a great weekend you two 🙂
Oh man! I need these products! Bad!
Thanks for the great tip… I can’t wait to search for linens with this new outlook you have given me… stains beware!!!
Hi ICFF friends! It was nice to meet you. Hope you guys had fun at the show. Let me know if you guys are in Boston any time soon, I’ll pop out from another corner and make you take a picture with me:)
I think this is the post I’ve been looking for for years…how did I not know about The Laundress?! I have a huge trove of 1960’s Belgian linen tableclothes, hand-embroidered cocktail napkins and other vintage linens handed down from my parents that I DO use (but with a slight sadness believing that they will inevitably become more and more stained over time). To realize that this doesn’t have to become their fate opens up a whole new world for me! 🙂 I’m buying the whole line.
And we must meet for a drink the next time you’re in LA, Eddie. We have too many mutual friends! xx
Thank you for this awesome resource! I am so lucky to have an enormous collection of vintage linens of all kinds passed down from my grandmother, but I had no idea how to gently care for them.
this looks like great stuff – can’t wait to try it!
Great tips! Thanks for sharing 🙂
This is such a helpful post! I am going to try some of those products for sure. I also rely on the sun to help dry my older linens. I don’t know if I am supposed to but it seems to really work well. 😉
I am almost speechless at the beauty of your blog. What arty fun we had with ink and paper, my favorite mediums, at the Javits a few days ago and now I see that your talent is the entire home. I’m practically swooning!
You’re wonderfully gifted writers, too. Handclaps and hurrahs! Your words shine as brilliantly as your visual talents.
You even make doing laundry sound like an event or pleasure. You have brought back the romanitc side of laundry. I use to have a collection of old linen and cotton hand towels and I quit using them but seeing yours hanging on the line in the breeze and in the sudsy water make me wonder why I ever got rid of mine. you do it to me every time. I am always inspired, Where can I buy the laundress products? kathysue
The Laundress, is just what I need! Wonderful fresh linens are a luxury. 🙂
Seems like the art of laundry is coming back. There is something so pleasurable about doing laundry.
I cannot wait to try this product.
I am sold! You and Jaithan should receive free products for life. Love your blog, want to see a tv soon:)
Will have to try the Whites Detergent — thanks for the tip! Great layered towel look for the powder room!
Oh Eddie, thank you so much for this informative post! My sister has been looking high and low for some way to remove some stains from some beautiful dresses her MIL made for her daughter 25 years ago….she has tried getting out the stains to no avail. I will tell her about this product and hopefully it will do the trick.
Sounds like a great product line. Loving the idea of antique linens in the powder room!
I adore beautiful linens — but now I’ll get them out and use them more with this tip. I always loved The Laundress b/c it smelled so good. Who knew it worked so well, too?! xo
It’s too bad my sister didn’t know about this kind of care for linens BEFORE she put the hand embroidered linen tablecloth that I made over the course of a year while in junior high school. (I still love her but DAMN!!!)
You may have missed spring cleaning but out here in the northwest we’re missing spring. It’s like February out there today!
Wonderful tips and thanks for sharing!
what a great line and i love their product labels! they should hire you for a commercial…seriously, i’m sold!
great tips! my mother is the queen of laundering vintage textiles and I am always teasing her she should write a book about it!
Can always count on you for great tips! I will certainly check out The Laundress for all those vintage linens that I find in perfect condition that get wreaked on set! Damn those chefs!
Nothing compares to a total white, perfectly ironed and freshly washed linen towel.
Very useful stuff. Thanks for the great tip.
I like this picture.