Recently I pulled our family Baptismal gown from the closet and was astonished/grossed out to discover that there was a disastrous, mustard yellow stain spreading all over the front and shoulder of both the gown and the slip. That cute new ‘baby-urping’ that we quickly wiped up while standing in the church at the last Baptism had aged to a gruesome patina during the last seven years (I know, I know, I was supposed to have it cleaned before storing it away, but, really, what new mother has time for all of that).
I asked Sarah, one of our guild members, to help me get it clean because that girl has some kind of magic when it comes to getting things to come clean when they don’t want to. Her mother taught her several techniques that she relied on as the costume director at a large theater in London. I thought I’d share her recipe/routine for handling a problem like this. The results are truly miraculous.
1/2 C. Tide
1 C. Biz
1/4 C. TSP (trisodium phosphate) - you can find this at the hardware store. It's a powder found in the cleaning section.
2 gallons hot water
Combine these ingredients in a large stainless steel pot. Drop in your offending fabric.
After it has soaked for a bit, add a bar of Fels Naptha Soap.
After a few minutes remove the bar of soap. It will be gooey. Gently, using your fingers, rub a bit of the soft soap into any stains on the fabric. Take your time with this.
Boil two teapots of water. Place a strainer upside down over the pot you are using to soak the garment. Lay any stained areas over the strainer.
Slowly pour boiling water over the stains. Watch them disappear miraculously.
If there are any areas that haven't cried uncle after this treatment, mix up another batch of the above soak without the TSP (TSP might be a bit too harsh for really delicate, old fabrics) and continue soaking overnight. The next day repeat the boiling water application to any stubborn parts.
Add 1/4 cup of distilled vinegar to a fresh pot of rinse water. Rinse the garment by squeezing and gently agitating it with your hands to help the vinegar water pass through the fabric. This helps to remove any soap residue. I was worried that the gown might smell like pickles but it didn't at all.
With clear water rinse 4 or 5 times more to make sure that all detergent and vinegar has been removed.
Squeeze water from garment (don't wring) and drape over a lavender bush in the sun to dry (or hang it over your bathtub on a plastic hanger).
Admire your snowy white handiwork.