Caring for Vintage Baby Clothes & Quilts

One of the many wonderful things that happens when a new baby comes into a family is rediscovering items that have been stored for decades in trunks or closets, often presented with stories of which now-grown people once had them (maybe it was you!). But how do you care for these treasured items?

When considering scents, Eucalan Natural (unscented) and Lavender are great choices for baby things.  Not only are both gentle on their delicate skin, but the fragrance of lavender oil promotes relaxation and is very gentle in the Eucalan formula.

Knitted Baby Items

Step 1:

Evaluate the item to determine if there are any small holes, weak spots in the fabric or stains.  Stains that have set over years are often permanent, and should be viewed as part of the history and character of the piece. Small holes could be a sign of moths, particularly in knits. Moth eggs can survive a long time, so to prevent any accidental transfer, put the item in a big ziploc bag, pop it into the freezer and leave it there for one week. take it out to thaw for another week while remaining in the bag, and then put it back in the freezer for one more week. This will kill any eggs or larvae that could be lurking.

Step 2:

Fill your sink or a bowl with cool water and add one capful or one pod of Eucalan in the scent of your choice.  Add as many knitted baby items as will comfortably fit in the sink or bowl, and let soak for about ten minutes, lightly agitating the water.  Then drain the water (no need to rinse with our no-rinse formula!) and gently squeeze out extra moisture. Roll the knits in a towel, and then lay flat to dry away from heat or direct sunlight (which could cause shrinking or discolouration).

Vintage Quilt Care

Step 1:

It’s not uncommon for some treasured quilts to get a little threadbare before any actual holes develop, so it’s worth taking a close look at that baby quilt to see if you should do some mending on any frayed bits before larger problems develop. If you aren’t comfortable with trying to reinforce or repair it yourself, bring it to a quilting shop that will be able to point you in the right direction.  If fabric markers were used (it was very popular in the 1970s to draw designs onto baby quilts!), test a small area with water and a bit of Eucalan to ensure colourfastness before washing.

Step 2:

If the baby quilt can fit in a sink, fill your sink with cool water and add one capful of Eucalan or one pod to the water. If it is too big, set your washing machine to the delicate cycle, and ensure the temperature setting is on cold and add 2-3 capfuls of Eucalan. Place the quilt gently in the sink or machine.  For the washing machine, let the delicate cycle run its course. For the sink wash, drain away the water and gently squeeze the quilt to remove excess. Roll the quilt in a towel to remove more moisture, and then hang to dry away from heat or direct sunlight. A shower rail might be a good spot for this.

Vintage Fabric Sleepers and Clothes

Step 1:

Check the inside of the clothing carefully to look for any loose threads that could catch on baby’s delicate fingers or toes. If you find any threads, snip them off. If you find any holes along the seams, it’s worth mending them before washing, to reduce the chances of the holes getting bigger.

Step 2:

For hand washing, fill your sink with cool water and add one capful or one pod of Eucalan in the scent of your choice. Add as many baby clothes, hats, or sleepers as will comfortably fit in the sink or bowl, and let soak for about ten minutes, lightly agitating the water. Then drain the water (no need to rinse with our no-rinse formula!) and gently squeeze out extra moisture. Roll the clothes in a towel, and then lay flat to dry away from heat or light (which, depending on the fabric of the clothes, could cause shrinking or discolouration). For the washing machine, set the machine to the delicate cycle and the cold temperature. Add 2-3 capfuls of Eucalan to the water, and add the baby clothes. Allow the cycle to run through, and then lay the clothes flat to dry, also away from heat and sunlight.

When the time comes to put these precious clothes and quilts away, be sure to wash them again before storing, and make sure they are completely dry.  For extra insurance, wrap each item in white tissue paper to prevent potential moisture issues that can happen in basements. One day, you will get to bestow upon a new baby these treasures that will remind you of when your own children were babies, and of the loving friends and family who made them.

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