We love our vintage clothing. It’s timeless, trendy, one-of-a-kind, and sustainable! We also totally understand that vintage items can be scary to wash, especially ones that are particularly delicate. Have no fear. We’re here to help with this quick guide all about washing and caring for vintage garments.
Check the Tag
There’s a pretty good chance your vintage garment can be machine-washed, so if your piece has a tag, check it for washing instructions. Odds are, you’ll need to wash it on the delicate cycle. If your garment does not have a label, refer to what the fabric is made of. Cotton, polyester, or nylon are considered “safe” textiles to wash; for anything wool, leather, or velvet, skip the machine to avoid damage.
Hand-washing is a safer alternative to machine-washing and can be done in a clean bucket, basin, or bathtub. Simply add hot water and the detergent of your choosing. (We recommend choosing a detergent that’s specifically designed for hand-washing vintage garments.) Once your detergent and hot water are ready to go, gently submerge your garment, ensuring the entire garment is soaked while checking for bleeding or shrinking throughout the process. Once you notice the water has turned yellow, gently pull the garment out of the water. Dump your bucket or basin out, refill with hot water and detergent, and submerge the piece again. Continue this process until the water no longer yellows. Once you see that the water is clear, you will ever-so-gently wring your piece of excess water and lay flat to dry.
If you are dealing with a fabric prone to shrinking, lined, or made out of a tricky fabric such as velvet, you should take your garment to the dry cleaners and let the professionals fix it up for you.
Storing Vintage Garments
Once your garment is clean, we recommend storing it flat and separately (but not in a plastic bag). This will relieve any stress or damage it could suffer from hanging or having added weight on top. Vintage garments need to breathe to avoid any unpleasant aromas.
Keep in Mind
Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind when caring for vintage garments:
- When handling delicate fabrics, make sure your hands are clean to avoid adding unnecessary stains.
- Hem any dresses or pants that are too long to keep them from dragging on the ground
- Just say no to wire hangers. They tend to buckle and stretch clothing in odd spots.
- Keep fabrics from excess light exposure, which can cause discoloration.
- Make sure to stuff any hats with acid-free paper and store them somewhere cool and dry that won’t sacrifice the shape.