When handling vintage clothing, precautions must be taken to preserve your piece. Throwing a 1970s silk blouse in the washing machine will almost certainly end in disaster. Thorough research is the only way to ensure you are handling your garments properly. Modern clothes are meticulously labeled with care instructions, a luxury that vintage clothing enthusiasts don’t have. It should also be noted that vintage pieces made before 1970 likely won’t have a care tag, and even if it does, the instructions may be faded. Here is a guide to cleaning and caring for your vintage clothing so that you can preserve it for years to come.

What Can Be Washed by Hand

  • Cotton and Linen

These items can be washed at home by hand or in the washing machine. Note that washing on hot can cause quicker fading.

  • Rayon

Strong synthetic fibers fare well in the washing machine. To maximize their lifespan, wash them on cold and hang them dry.

  • Cashmere

Fine-haired wools like cashmere should be washed at home to avoid the harsh chemicals of dry cleaners. However, they are still delicate, so hand wash with a mild detergent.

What Must Be Dry Cleaned

  • Velvet

Pure velvet should be dry-cleaned. Check the fabric contents to ensure your velvet is not polyester

  • Garments with inner linings

Water alone can damage the connection between the liner and fabric of your garment. For items with inner linings like dresses, suits and blazers, opt for a dry-cleaning service

  • Fabrics that tend to shrink

Fabrics like wool can be a gamble to handle yourself. Exposure to water causes massive, irreversible shrinkage.

  • Fabrics or embellishments with dyes that run

Dark silks are the main culprit in this category. Some can ensure a hand wash, but others, darker silks, tend to bleed and stain surfaces and other clothes.

  • Fabrics that are embossed, embellished or embroidered

Embellishments like sequins, beads and studs aren’t equipped to handle a rough wash cycle, as many are secured by a fragile piece of thread.

  • Leather and suede

Washing leather can cause shrinkage and cracks. Professional cleaning takes measures to protect from these disasters.

  • Furs

Any fur with skin on the underside should not be washed at home. Vintage furs are especially delicate and can be permanently ruined by washing at home.

Care for vintage clothing is not the place to cut corners. If you value your garments, you’ll want to take special care so that they last for years to come. If you face any confusion or uncertainty about the care of such fabrics, reach out to experts. Davis Imperial is well-versed in vintage care and would love to help you preserve your pieces. Call us at (866)-436-0257 for information and care services. 

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