Preserving Keepsakes

Old, faded lace runner keepsake on wood table top

Remember those lace runners that your grandmother always kept on the end tables in her living room? They were always there, even after she moved. It seems like all the memories you have of playing at her house as a child involve those old lace runners.

Or what about your grandpa’s handkerchief? He always had it with him, even though he didn’t use it for much. There were a few times he used it to wipe away your tears and he used it when he had to cough. He even used it for a magic trick once. It just seemed to be a part of him.

And your mother’s dish towels? Remember those? They had the funny looking characters embroidered on the bottom. They were passed down from generation to generation, but not just for looks. Each had stains from wiped up food and dried dishes of the past.

No matter what they are, the keepsakes we cherish that have been passed down from loved ones hold a lot of value, even if it’s not always monetary. If you’ve received dear keepsakes that you want to restore or keep safe, here’s what you can do:

  1. Clean them. If you’re dealing with cloth, linen, or fabrics, chances are that they’ve yellowed over use and time. We’ve designed Retro Clean specifically to remove stains and yellowing on old and delicate fabrics. If you plan to use your keepsakes regularly, we also offer Retro Wash, designed to preserve and get delicates clean, even after everyday use.
  1. Store them. Once your keepsakes have been cleaned, wrap the cloths in special preserving paper. If your keepsakes are paper or photos themselves, they don’t necessarily need to be wrapped. After they’re set to be stored, place them in a special box. Do not use a cardboard or wood box as acid from the wood will seep through and discolor them; special “microclimate” boxes can be ordered online. Once they’ve been safely boxed, store your keepsakes in a cool, dark, dry place.
  1. Or display them. If you’re not planning on boxing up your hand-me-down treasures and want to display them for everyone to see, find a display place that is away from direct sunlight. If you’ll be framing your keepsakes, be sure to use UV resistant glass for an added measure of protection.

No matter what keepsake you want to preserve, protect your valuables for generations to come. For your cloths and linens, order Retro Clean and Retro Wash today, or contact us with any questions you may have.

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An Eco-Friendly Way to Get Out Tough Stains


We all want to keep our families both clean and healthy, which is why there has been such a big push in recent years for more natural cleaning products. But no one should have to sacrifice effective cleaning just to avoid harsh or artificial chemicals. Retro Wash Laundry Powder provides a solution: it’s tough on dirt, grime, odors, spills, and stains, while still being gentle enough for not only skin, but also your most delicate fabrics. Whether your washing your infant’s diapers or your great-grandmother’s antique lace, Retro Wash is a perfect laundry solution because it doesn’t contain any:

  • Dyes: Does blue detergent clean better than plain old white? No. Chemical dyes don’t help clean your clothes, so why are they there? Steer free of dyes and your skin will thank you; dyes can cause contact dermatitis—itchy red skin.
  • Phosphates: Generally recognized as safe for people, phosphates do a number on the environment. When washed into the water supply, they can cause algae blooms through a process called eutrophication, and these blooms will muck up local freshwater sources. Some algae are toxic, but even when they aren’t they can still kill the fish living there by depleting the dissolved oxygen in the water.
  • Optical Brighteners: Some detergents hide the fact that they don’t do the greatest job of cleaning by adding chemicals that are designed not to get rinsed out of your clothes. Instead, these chemicals are meant to attach to the fabric and reflect more light. Your clothes look bright and clean, but it’s all an illusion. Without them, you know your clean clothes really are as clean as they look.
  • Perfumes: Many people equate nice smells with cleanliness, so it’s no surprise that many detergents are laden with fragrances and perfumes, but these artificial chemicals can cause skin and respiratory problems, especially for those who are already sensitive. If anyone in your household has asthma, allergies, or eczema, it’s a good idea to avoid detergents with perfumes.

Retro Wash Laundry Powder is safe for the environment both in and out of your home. It’s biodegradable, non-toxic and hypoallergenic, while still offering superior cleaning power. (And combined with Retro Clean soaking agent for tough stains or age-related discoloration, it really can’t be beat.) If you are looking for the best way to do laundry, give Retro Wash a try today.

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Retro Clean Tutorial

Welcome to our first ‘Retro Clean’ blog. We’re excited to bring you lots of great tips on using our products and will also be exploring many vintage related topics in future blogs. Today, Mindy is providing a tutorial for the cleaning of age stained textiles.

I found this vintage lace at an estate sale.  It had brown age stains.  When I unwound the lace from the cardboard the acids from the cardboard had caused the lace to turn brown and splotchy.  If the item you are working with is colored, it is always wise to check that it is colorfast before immersing it in water.

Before using Retro Clean to remove the stains I always wash my items first in Retro Wash laundry powder to wash out any surface dirt.  Retro Wash is highly concentrated, just ½ teaspoon per gallon of water.  In this example, I have approximately 1 gallon in my basin. If you choose to wash your item in the gentle cycle of your washing machine, you would use 1 teaspoon for a small load and up to 1 tablespoon for a full load. It is safe to use in all HE machines.

I wash the lace by pushing the solution through the fabric, rather than wringing or twisting, let it sit for just a few minutes, repeat, then rinse.

This will wash the dirt and grime out.  You’ll notice the brown age stains are still there and that’s where the Retro Clean soak comes in.

Next, dissolve 3 to 4 tablespoons of Retro Clean per gallon of warm water.  If I’m soaking larger items such as a quilt, I mix it in a large plastic container.

Immerse your items in the Retro Clean solution, mixing up just enough to cover.  You may leave it soaking indoors or outdoors.

It really works best when soaked outdoors in a sunny location.  The sun helps keep the water warm, causing the activation process to speed up. If a sunny day is not available, it can be done successfully indoors, it may just take a little longer.

Keep your items immersed, if they have a tendency to pop up you can weight them down with a plate.  Let it soak for 24-48 hours, checking on its progress periodically.  No need to agitate.

When you see that the stains are removed, you can remove your items and once again wash and rinse to remove all residue.  Dry as you normally would and enjoy your restored piece!


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