Laundry day

Tips on washing vintage clothing


Since I’m running a vintage clothing business, I do wash most pieces that come into the shop. Along the year I did develop some good handwash care knowledge and here are some tips I collected along the way that might help you.

If you have any additional advice, please leave them in the comment section below 🙂

How to clean Fragile and older fabrics:

If I have a doubt I’ll handwash. If the piece of garment is older than the 50s I’ll mostly automatically handwash, if it has some intricate ruffles, beads embroideries or anything I’ll surely handwash.

The process is simple, I’ll bath the piece in cold water with some Savon de Marseille, and let it there for some time (unless it is silk – read below).

How to clean silk:

I do put silk on a cold program in the washing machine but only if I judge that the fabric can take it. Silk can lose its elasticity and softness if you do so. So prefer handwash. Do not rub the fabric and before you let it dry wring it. I’ll hang smaller pieces but I will roll/press larger ones in a towel. Also, avoid ironing on a stain or it will fix it in the fibre forever.

  • Handwash
  • Cold Water / Short bath
  • No ironing on stains / No wringing or scrubbing

Beret – Vintage (similar 1 /2) / Coat – Vintage 1960’s PVC  / Necklace – Vintage 1940’s / Belt – Vintage 1980’s  /  Skirt – Vintage Comme des Garçons (my own) / Shoes – Molly Dr Martens ( My own)

How to clean wool and cashmere:

Wool and cashmere garments will be soaked in cold water with very little soap. If you add too much soap it will increase the risk of felting. Rinse until the fabric is free from detergent, you can also add a little bit of vinegar too. I’ll remove the excess water from the clothes by rolling them into a towel and let them dry flat to avoid loss of shape.

  • Little soap
  • Rinse in cold water + vinegar
  • Flat drying no hanging
  • No tumblr

How to clean  rayon:

Rayon has a tendency to shrink and bleed colour. So before i put it in the washing mashine on a cold or low temperature programe I’ll let it soaked in my sink to see if any colour is bleeding out of the textil, if it does i’ll hand wash it seperatly.

  • cold to medium washing machine programm
  • pre- bath

How to clean fur:

If you read my last post you may no that I no longer want to sell fur. But if you own one I feel like you need to know how to care for it so that it will last you a life time. If you need to get rid of a smell or a greasy feel sparkle baby powder over the fur and leave it for a few hours . Then shake and tap it best on your garden or balcony if you can or vacuum it.

It’s important that you only use a very tiny amount of water to remove a stain, so only a damp cloth and a gentle dab across the stains will do it.

The fur needs air circulation to keep the hide from drying out and cracking. So choose cotton rather than plastic bags to storage it.

  • dab but no rub
  • as little water as possible
  • natural dry
  • no plastic packaging

How to clean PVC and Rubber:

If it’s dusty or has light stains I’ll use a soft cloth damped in milk and gently rub the item.

For bigger stains like they were on this coat I’m wearing, I’m not afraid to use Luke water and a tiny amount of liquid soap. Powdered detergent are to banish, they may not dissolve completely and affect the finish of the fabric.

  • Milk or luke water
  • No rubbing
  • Only liquid detergent, no powder

Additional Tips:

  • To remove rusty stain I use a bit a lemon jus and salt, and gently rub the stain, this mostly works on leather.
  • If can’t bother washing the entire piece but only want to remove a stain, I will demp a soft cloth into some stains petrol “Flecken Benzin” and gently dab onto the chosen spot (do not use on Fur or PVC)




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