Almost every apron tells a story. It might evoke wisps of days gone by, working side-by-side with your grandmother in her kitchen. Possibly it could bring back memories of baking your son or daughter’s first birthday cake. Maybe you wore it when you cooked a special someone your first meal together.
Did you know that several decades ago, aprons served a wealth of purposes? People didn’t have the amount of clothing most have today, therefore they had to prevent their clothes from coming into contact with anything that might serve to lessen that amount. Women—of course men wear them, too, but more frequently today than decades ago—often wore aprons from the time they got up in the morning until they got ready for bed in the evening. They weren’t just for cooking either. Women often stashed cleaning rags in the pockets. They wiped many tears from their children’s or grandchildren’s faces and sweat from their own brows. They picked peas or beans from their gardens and carried them inside by holding up the ends of their aprons.
These days’ aprons prevent us from getting food on our clothing while cooking or baking. And while we’re far less concerned about reducing our clothing supply given the vast array of stain removal products on the market, we are often concerned with cleaning our aprons—especially if they’ve been passed down from Grandma or another special lady in our lives. It’s important to use safe cleaners, especially if the aprons are vintage.
What You’ll Need to Clean Your Apron If It’s Vintage
Safe cleaners are mandatory when cleaning a vintage apron. Make sure you have the following items on hand before you begin this chore.
- Lemon juice
- Table salt
- Bucket or basin for soaking
You shouldn’t be afraid to wear vintage aprons if you have these safe cleaners at the ready for easy stain removal. Start by filling your basin or bucket—or even the kitchen sink—with hot water. Soak the soiled article or articles for a few minutes.
Gently wring out the water and place on a flat surface. Next, you need to pour lemon juice directly onto any stains or areas that are soiled. Liberally sprinkle the areas with table salt.
Hang your vintage apron on a clothesline outside in the sun, if possible. If not, hang them in another spot to dry. The sun will work together with the lemon and salt to get rid of any stains.
Once the apron is dry, rinse it thoroughly in the basin of water to remove the salt. Hang it to dry once again. This means of using safe cleaners to remove soiling and stains will prevent the vintage fabric from breaking down and eventually wearing so thin it can’t be used.
If Your Aprons Aren’t Vintage…
Have the following items on hand if the fabric isn’t vintage. You likely have most of these in your home already.
- Putty knife or blunt-edged spatula
- White vinegar
- Basin or bucket
- Liquid dish soap
If your aprons aren’t vintage, washing them should be a breeze. Being relatively new, they likely come with a tag that explains the laundering instructions. A handmade apron needs to be laundered based on the type of fabric it is made of. Cotton fabric or heavy canvas is widely used in the making of aprons. Both of these fabrics are tough and can stand up to lots of use and lots of stains.
Even though you don’t need to use safe cleaners when laundering them, it’s never a bad idea to think of the environment, and how harsh cleaners do it damage. Save harsh cleaners as a very last resort, when all other means of stain removal has failed. That said, start by removing any caked on foods from the fabric prior to laundering. This is done easily by scraping the fabric gently with a putty knife or blunt-edged spatula. Using a few drops of liquid dish soap, rub any areas that are heavily soiled or stained with your fingers.
Place the apron in a bucket or basin filled with warm water, and allow it to soak for about an hour.By this point you should see a lightening of any stained areas and a lessening of soiled spots on the fabric. In many instances this will do the trick. You can now rinse the soap from the fabric and either hang it to dry or throw it in your dryer.
If you were trying to remove an especially difficult stain—like blood, whether from a cut or red meat—remove those pesky blood stains with hydrogen peroxide. For dried blood stains, first soak the stain using hydrogen peroxide then use the dull blade of a butter knife to loosen and scrape away. Rinse the stain with more peroxide and rinse with warm water.
Try to remember that practically every time you don an apron, you are likely creating memories—if not for yourself, then for those around you. Make those memories precious ones by slowing down to enjoy time together in the kitchen with your loved ones.