Whether you have just inherited some old clothing or you snagged a great piece from the antique store, owning vintage clothing can be a cool experience. You literally own a piece of history. However, this means you have to care for that piece of history, and caring for vintage clothing is sometimes not so easy.
To help you out, here are some tips on washing, maintaining and caring for your vintage clothing so it can last another generation.
Washing Vintage Clothing
As a general rule of thumb, don’t put vintage clothing in the washing machine unless specified to avoid damage. If the clothing is really old or worn out, try spot cleaning instead of washing the entire garment; you don’t want to clean the garment too often, or it will deteriorate faster. Only cotton, polyester, nylon, spandex and synthetics should go in the washing machine.
If the garments can be machine washed, make sure all zippers, hooks and buttons are fastened so nothing gets caught and torn. Try to wash the clothes immediately after wearing so that stains and odors can set in.
The majority of your fabrics for handwashing will include pure silk, rayon, wool, cotton and polyester blends. If you are unsure about whether or not the clothing can be hand washed, do a spot test – dab a small amount of detergent and water on a hidden spot of the garment. If there is any dye bleeding, take it to a dry cleaner. No matter what, be gentle with the vintage clothes.
Fill up a sink or tub with either hot or cold water, depending on the fabric and dye. Add liquid detergent and mix it with the water. Only wash one clothing item at a time by slowly soaking the garment completely. You want to constantly check for dye bleeding, shrinkage or tears.
If the water turns a different color, like yellow, drain the water and press out the water; never wring out vintage clothes. Refill the water and repeat until it does not change colors. Make sure to remove all the detergent residue before removing the garment to dry.
Drying Vintage Clothing
Whether you machine washed or hand washed your vintage clothing, avoid using a dryer unless specified. Either hang the clothing item or lie it flat to dry.
Once it is dry, hang it inside out on a padded hanger. Never use wire hangers because they can stretch out the vintage clothing and cause discoloration with rust. Also, never throw your vintage clothing on the floor.
Also, avoid plastic bags; clothing needs to breathe, so use canvas bags instead.
If you ever have any doubt about caring for vintage clothing, take it to a professional dry cleaner, such as London Cleaners. You don’t want to damage your precious clothing, so take it to someone you trust.
Linen, crepes, knits, velvet and raw silk should be taken to dry cleaners. Leather, suede and fur should go to specialists.
Storing and Maintaining Vintage Clothing
The best way to ensure that your vintage clothing makes it another decade is with preventative measures.
– Before you put on a piece of vintage clothing, look for holes, tears or weak seams. If you see something, immediately take it to a professional to mend it.
– Also, make sure the vintage clothing is tailored to your body. For example, hem long dresses so they don’t drag on the floor and get ruined.
– Wash your hands before handling the clothing. Grease is super damaging to old fabrics.
– When you are wearing vintage clothing, be aware of your surroundings; avoid eating or brushing against dirty surfaces.
– If you aren’t hanging your vintage clothing, fold and wrap it in acid-free paper to prevent creases; however, try not to stack clothing on top of each other. You can also use acid-free paper to stuff hats, bags and shoes.
– Store vintage clothing in dim, cool, dry places to avoid mold, mildew and discoloration or fading.