Care of clothing

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion Q & A' started by Judy Bussey, Apr 27, 2004.

  1. Judy Bussey

    Judy Bussey Registered Guest

    I have purchased vintage clothing years 20's thru 50's. Some are less than perfect. How do I remove spots? Is there a special cleaning agent? Do some dry cleaners specialize in this? Any info would greatly be appreciated! I'm new at this and it's great fun!

  2. Hi Judy,
    As with modern garments, care depends a lot on the fabric content. Just like today, you would handle a fine silk differently than a denim.

    The main thing that differs, however, from modern clothing, is that due to the passage of time, some vintage garments are more delicate than current items. Some garments can be cleaned with more modern methods, but err on the side of caution - try white vinegar instead of shout, etc., adn try handwashing if it is a washable garment first before even thinking about a washing machine. some dry cleaners will deal with vintage garments, but the ones that are really truly knowledgeable are few and far between. i have heard horror stories, but i have also have heard of items - 40s wool gabardine suits in one case come to mind (and again, they had no disintegrating lining, etc), that turned out fabulous. so be very very judicious.

    What needs to be determined also on a garment by garment basis is should they be cleaned at all? Some garments - lets say a heavily beaded gown from the 20s - may stand on its own historical significance and quite frankly attempted to clean it may disintegrate it. Even if it has some noticeable damage, it is a worthy piece for study, etc. Or if there is a very minor issue, like a tiny spot, but the rest of it is crisp and fresh, i might not bother either, unless it is a familar fabric and can be removed with gentle ingredients. there are a lot of things different people swear by, but all in all it is hard to say without knowing what you have specifically : )

    pls give us some examples of "less than perfect" condition, and what the garment is (age?) we can give it a whirl : )

    (or someone may come along with some good books to check out as well)

  3. I agree with Chris. There are some fabrics you just should not wash. I will have to start another thread on what's the biggest mistake you've made in cleaning a vintage garment!<p>If I think an item can be washed, I will usually presoak it. A lot of people like Oxyclean. I actually prefer Lestoil or just a cheap substitute of Biz that I get at our local Save-A-Lot grocery store. If it is bright colors, make sure the soak water is cool, not hot. Boy did I ruin a brightly colored vintage tablecloth once!<p>After soaking, and sometimes this may take a day, make sure the stains are out and rinse gently and hang to dry. I usually don't do much wringing, just hang it on a hanger and let it drip dry. <p>The best thing for underarm perspiraton stains is white vinegar. Place on a clean white cloth and dab. Even if your garment needs to be dry cleaned, it is a good idea to do this prior to taking to the cleaners.<p>Peroxide can work on colored clothes. And, yes, I still spot clean whites with bleach. Clorox now has out a little bleach pen for small spots.<p>I know someone will be along soon who can add more. Just thought I would give just a few tips that came right to my mind.<p>Remember, some buyers do not want you to clean them first. Just let them know that the item has been in storage and may need to be dry cleaned and describe all stains. I rarely dry clean a garment. (I say that and I just got back picking up two dresses from the cleaners!) I usually freshen mine with Fabreeze or hanging outside or fluffing in the dryer with a used dryer sheet and I usually always steam or press the garment before I take pics. If it's a 70s polyester, they usually do great in the washing machine and dryer. But if you have a doubt, ask first. We love to answer questions and it helps everyone learn.
  4. Jonathan

    Jonathan Trade Member

    Can you post pics of the spots on the dresses? This is such a huge area for answering, it would help if we saw the type of spot on the type of material, and the age of the dress.

    Is is rust, blood, foxing, mildew, perspiration, sugar based food (ie: wine, juice), grease, etc.

    And then it depends on the type of fabric, and the weave: cotton, silk, rayon, wool -- satin, crepe, etc...

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