Hooked on Needles

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How to Clean a Crocheted Doily

Crocheted doilies have been around forever. They have been used as table runners, dresser scarves, chair back and arm covers (also called Antimacassars), coasters, placemats, jar covers, tablecloths, pillow covers, bedspreads and the list goes on and on. Recently I've even seen doily designs, which are traditionally crocheted using fine cotton thread, worked up in big chunky yarn producing a blanket of sorts that looks like it might belong on the table in that castle at the top of the magic bean stalk!

I've been crocheting doilies for most of my crocheting life, which started around the age of 8 and has continued almost uninterrupted for over 40 years now! You can see some of my doilies and doily-like crocheting HERE, HERE and HERE. My mother also does lovely thread crochet and I've shared some of her work HERE and HERE.

After a doily has been used and displayed for some time, in this case many years, it will be in need of a serious cleaning. Here are the pieces in need of cleaning this time around...

How to Clean a Crocheted DoilyThese pieces are a single and a triple dresser scarf which I made about 20 years ago for the furniture in our bedroom. You can see how the single doily is much more discolored than the larger one. This is because it was used on the nightstand which is just in front of a window that stays open all summer and the only thing that is put on it is the lamp so most of it is exposed to dirt, dust and sun.

How to Clean a Crocheted DoilyThe larger piece was mostly covered by the many books my husband keeps on his bureau so it is not exposed nearly as much to the elements. Anyway, they are both in need of a good cleaning.

How to Clean a Crocheted DoilyAfter trying mild soaps and laundry detergents on other doilies with no success, I had the idea to try Oxyclean and see if that would do anything to remove the years of discoloration from these cotton treasures.

How to Clean a Crocheted DoilySo I filled my big Tupperware bowl with warm water and poured a whole cap full of Oxyclean into the water. I placed the two pieces into the bowl and made sure they were fully submerged. Then I left them alone for a few hours.

How to Clean a Crocheted DoilyEeewwwww! Nasty! I guess something's happening in there!

How to Clean a Crocheted DoilyI stirred it up with the handle of a wooden spoon and noticed that the doilies looked remarkably cleaner.

How to Clean a Crocheted DoilySo I emptied the bowl and gave the pieces a little rinse under running water. They still were not as clean as I wanted, so I did the same process over again, filling the bowl, adding the Oxyclean and letting it sit. This time I left it overnight.

How to Clean a Crocheted DoilyThis is what the bowl looked like in the morning before I touched it. What a difference!

How to Clean a Crocheted DoilyAfter giving them a good rinse under cool running water, I laid them out on a clean towel...

How to Clean a Crocheted Doily...and stretched them slightly so that the edges were straight and corners square.

How to Clean a Crocheted DoilyThis one looks just like it did when I made it many years ago!

How to Clean a Crocheted DoilyThe smaller one seems to have suffered from having the lamp on it all these years. I don't know if that discoloration is caused by the rest of the doily fading or by that part of the doily not being exposed to air or what, but that spot on it is right where the lamp sits and it is barely noticeable in person. It shows up pretty clearly in these pictures though. Very strange.

How to Clean a Crocheted DoilySo after laying them out on the clean towel, I put another clean towel on top of them and then rolled the whole thing up starting from the short end. After rolling, I squeezed along the roll as I continued to gently roll the whole thing, to get the water out of the doilies and into the towels.

Then I laid out another clean towel on my ironing board and spread the two doilies on it to continue drying. And that is where they are still. Once they are completely dry, I will return them to their places of honor upstairs in our bedroom, fresh and clean and ready to serve for another many years!

Happy Stitching!

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