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How to Remove Brown Stains on Vintage Quilts

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By Laurie Wright

My Laundry Question

Handmade quilts with brown stains.

Share a Little Background Info

I have 3 quilts my grandma made in the 1980's, but they are not used and look new, except for the brown stains. They are stored in a linen closet and wrapped in sheets. I only get them out once a year to put on the beds for a couple summer months.

One had "rust" stains last year and I just now got it out of the closet this year and the stains are spreading. Now, there are about 4 stains as big as dinner plates. There are many smaller spots distributed over the whole quilt. Stains are on both side of quilt. The other quilts only have small brown stains. Where did they come from? Is there help?

Thank you

Lessons Learned

  • I haven't known what to do. I am hoping you can help.
  • Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)

    Cotton and cotton blends

    Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

    Mysterious brown stains can be caused by undetected stains on the quilts that were not removed before storing them. It could also be caused by the interaction of the sheets, quilt and wood in the linen closet. The sheets should be 100 percent cotton and washed in unscented detergent with no fabric softener or dryer sheet.

    Now, to remove the stains. Fill your washer or a bathtub with cool water. Add oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach, Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach ) following the directions on the package per gallon of water. Make sure that the bleach is dissolved completely. Submerge your entire quilt and allow it to soak for 24 hours. Check the stains, if they are gone, rinse the quilt in cool water and dry. If the stains remain, repeat the process.

    If your washer is large enough, you can rinse and spin out the water in the quilt. Dry on medium heat. Do not store unless the quilt is completely dry. The quilt can also be air dried on a clothesline. Do not dry in direct sun.

    Good luck!

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