Cleaning vintage fabrics Part 1

So you just found the most fabulous vintage dress. But how do you clean it? Start by looking at the type of fabric you are working with. Is it natural, such as cotton, linen, silk, or wool? Or synthetic such as polyester, nylon, rayon, acrylic, spandex.  Next is it washable, or does it require dry cleaning.  Keep in mind some fabrics marked as “dry clean only” can be washed by hand. But be sure to use caution and test a small discreet portion before plunging in so to speak.



Vintage linens in for a good soak.

Next, check to see if the fabric is colorfast. Well, how do I do that, you may ask.  Here’s a quick way to test for colorfastness. Find an inconspicuous place to test, an inside seam, hem, or similar spot on the garment. Using a powder soap, liquid detergent, or liquid bleach mix up a solution similar in strength to what you would use to wash with. Approximately 4 to 6 parts water to 1 part soap or bleach. Take a cotton swab and dab just a bit on the fabric. Let it set for a minute, then blot dry with a white cloth or paper towel. Did the color change? Is there dye on the towel? Yes? You may want to consult with a professional dry cleaner on this one. No? Then your garment has passed the test. Next we will get into how much cleaning your garment actually requires.