How to Wash Thrifted Bedding

I’ve published a post on thrifted bedding before and I figured I would add to it by detailing how I go about washing these pieces.

I find that when purchasing vintage or any pre-owned bedding, it is not uncommon to find stains on the items. 

I only purchase thrifted bedding that has light stains, as these will be easier to wash out later. When I purchase anything with major staining, I often do it to use the fabric as material for some sewing project.

For the most part, stains will often come out or at least lighten. So, if the price is right, consider buying something imperfect if the style is to your liking.

Read on to find more of my cleaning methods below.

How to Remove Stains from Thrifted Bedding

Here are the most common techniques I use to wash thrifted bedding:

White Vinegar and Baking Soda

I usually start stain removal with these two. This combo tends to get rid of most stains I encounter, including sweat stains, yellow stains, food stains, and dirt stains. White vinegar and baking soda don’t damage fabric or dyes either, so it’s very safe to use.

I generally soak an item in water for a couple of hours. This helps loosen the fibers and will allow the vinegar and baking soda to better penetrate the fabric.

After soaking, I will wring it out and then apply vinegar and baking soda to any stained areas. I like to pour vinegar, cover the area with a good amount of baking soda, and then pour a bit more vinegar on top.

Then, I let it sit for 2-4 hours, occasionally checking to see if the area has dried. If so, then I add more vinegar.

Once it has soaked for a while, I scrub the spot with a soft brush and wash off the area with water.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is great for removing organic stains like wine, ketchup, and blood stains. 

However, it can also whiten spots, so I’d test it out in a corner of my item before covering a large area with it.

To remove a stain with hydrogen peroxide you can create a paste with baking soda. Spread the paste onto the stain and let sit for 1-2 hours. Longer if it is particularly large or deeply stained.

You want to ensure the area remains moist when you let it sit for several hours. You can rehydrate it with additional hydrogen peroxide as it dries.

After some time, wash off with water. You may have to repeat this process until the area significantly lightens.

Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover is basically diluted acetone. For this reason, it does a great job of removing any stains that are paint-based. This includes nail polish, acrylic, and oil-based paints.

I generally let the nail polish remover sit on the fabric for 5 or so minutes. More if the spot is very large or stiff. Afterward, I take a Q-tip or a soft scrubbing brush and brush away the spot.

Remember to spot test to ensure it won’t severely affect your item!

How to Spot Bleach

On occasion, you may find you’ve got some stubborn spots on white bedding. Generally, you can use bleach but you’ll need to be careful with how you use it. Otherwise, you may ruin your item.

First, always test DILUTED bleach on a small, unnoticeable area. Some whites will turn yellow if the bleach is too strong, so testing will let you know if you need more water in your solution. I generally go with a mixture that’s mostly water with a splash of bleach.

Once you’ve confirmed that all is good to go, you can spot bleach.

When spot-bleaching bedding with patterns, I will use a dropper or a Q-tip to apply the bleach solution. This gives me more control as to where the bleach goes on the fabric.

I also recommend you do this when your bedding is DRY. Wet fabric will cause the bleach solution to seep past the spot you intended, so I recommend spot bleaching ONLY when the fabric is completely dry.

Dry fabric will concentrate the bleach to one area, preventing you from accidentally bleaching a spot you didn’t intend to.

How to Wash Thrifted Bedding

Use a Disinfectant

I like to use the Lysol Laundry Sanitizer when washing thrifted bedding I plan to use. It kills nearly all germs, and in the case of heavy items like blankets and duvets, it will kill any bacteria that may be hanging around.

I also recommend using a disinfectant on smelly pillows, especially feather-downs. Because of the empty air pockets pillows naturally have, it’s not unusual for bacteria to collect and grow in these items. 

However, a wash with a laundry disinfectant will take care of the issue.

Wash Alone or with Other Thrifted Items

You can add the disinfectant along with your usual washing detergent. I’d just recommend washing your thrifted bedding on its own or with other thrifted items. Afterwards, you should be good.

This will also let you know whether the bedding you’ve purchased discolors or not. Most vintage pieces you find may have either a washed-out care tag or a missing one, so washing it alone the first time may inform you as to how to properly wash it in the future.

How to Remove Odor from Thrifted Items

It’s typical to find that your thrifted linens or clothes have a strong smell to them. Usually, this is a result of having been stored away in some place for too long without being aired out.

You may also find that the smell persists after washing. 

Here’s what I do to lessen and often eliminate these odors:

  1. Soak the item in a white vinegar and water solution. Apple Cider vinegar will work as well. You’ll want to leave it in for a good while though. The larger the item, the longer you should leave it undisturbed. You’ll need a bucket or a tub to submerge your item. Make sure you get something heavy to weigh it down.
  2. Air out in the sun. After you’ve washed your item in the machine, you can throw it in the dryer. But if you find that the smell persists, I’d recommend letting it hang outside in the sun on a hot day. Just don’t leave it out for several days or its colors will inevitably fade.
  3. Cover it in baking soda. If the two options above don’t work, then you can also try covering your item with baking soda. This technique works best for small items that have less surface area, but if you’ve got something large that you hope to save from the landfill then you may need a couple of boxes of baking soda. You simply apply the powder across the areas that smell and let sit overnight. Then you can vacuum clean the baking soda.

Hopefully, this information has provided you with some helpful information on how to wash thrifted bedding.

Till next time!

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