Hello dearies! This past week we received an email from a lovely follower of this blog, asking us about dry clean only garments and how we launder them. That sparked an idea to write up a post on how we girls take care of our more, for lack of a better word, finicky, dry clean only, and hand wash garments.
DRY CLEAN ONLY:
Since there are several different types of fibers and clothing pieces under this category, I am going to break it up into more specific subjects.
Woven Wool Clothing (i.e. skirts, dresses): These will typically say dry clean only on the tag, and I would certainly recommend following that advice. However, you don’t need to dry clean that skirt every week, let alone every month! We girls will usually wait till the end of the season, or when the garments accidentally get stained, to get our wool garments dry cleaned. I would not recommend, unless you have had prior experience in this area, hand washing your woven woolens. Just follow the instructions on the tag, or if the dress is homemade, on the fabric label.
Wool and Cashmere Sweaters: These are the woolen garments that you can and should hand wash. I usually follow these instructions from Vixen Vintage for my vintage sweaters, and for soap, we girls usually use Woolite, though I’ve also heard you can also use Johnson’s baby shampoo for washing delicates (I’ve tried it and it works).
Linen and Silks: This one really depends on the type of garment. If it’s a silk wedding gown or silk dress, you definitely want to get that dry cleaned, but if it’s a silk blouse, you could probably hand wash it. As for linen, we have several linen garments that we wash at home on the gentle cycle on our washing machine. Of course you do not need to wash these pieces every time you wear them. Usually if you wait to wear them a few times and then wash them (using common sense in regard to freshness of smell of course ;P), the garments will last longer. If you use your good judgement to decide if something really should be dry cleaned, as opposed to hand washed, you’ll be good to go.
Sweaters. Most of the time, if they are cotton or wool, they should be hand washed. Any other fibers I would suggest following the tag.
ITEMS THAT SHOULD BE HANDLED CAREFULLY:
Beaded Garments. If you have a beaded sweater, I’ve heard that you can wash it very carefully by hand. If it’s a beaded silk dress however, dry clean it definitely.
Pleated Natural Fiber Garments. Don’t ever wash these by hand. The pleats will all wash out. Get these dry cleaned, definitely!
Old Garments. These should be handled with EXTRA care, especially if it’s something as fine as your great grandma’s lace blouse. Be VERY, VERY careful. For these garments, I would look up specific instructions as to how to wash them.
Cashmere. This should be hand washed the same as other sweaters, but handled just a little more delicately, since the fibers are so delicate.
Like I said above, we girls use Woolite for all of our delicates from unmentionables to sweaters. Though in recent days I have taken to using Johnson’s baby shampoo as a substitute.
As far as water temperatures go, you should never have it boiling hot. Lukewarm is usually good for most garments. Above all do NOT put wool sweaters in boiling water. They will shrink beyond recognition, not to mention wearability. Also, as I have learned from my own experience, be VERY careful with delicate knit t-shirts. I’m sure you all remember the story of one of my first handmade tees. If not you can read it here. Thankfully some genius has come up with a solution to get us poor folks out of that horrible shrunken knit problem in a jiffy. Here’s the link if you ever find yourself with a t-shirt that has suddenly become a crop top after passing through the wash.
Another thing to do when you wash your garments by machine, is to not let them dry in the dryer all the way. Let them dry till they’re just damp then hang them up, or lay them out (depending on the type of garment and the care it requires) to air dry the rest of the way. This works especially well with keeping wrinkles out of cotton, and allowing t-shirts to relax a bit after the stressful tumbling of the washing machine (yes fibers do get stressed, though it’s not quite the same as human stress 😉
I just have a few fun things to try in regards to stains before I finish this post off. I learned from a book called Vintage Notions by Amy Barickman, the following techniques for treating coffee, tea, and fruit or wine stains.
Coffee and Tea Stains:
Stretch the stained place over a bowl and pour boiling water through the stain
Fruit or Wine Stains:
Put a layer of salt on the stain as soon as it is made and treat with boiling water the same as tea stains.
I was actually able to try this technique with a great amount of success on a white shirt of Charlotte’s which she had got a berry stain on. She was going to just put stain stick on it and throw it in the wash, but since the stain was fresh, I convinced her to let me try the above remedy. And, boy did it work! The stain was gone! Granted I haven’t had to try it since, but that one time certainly convinced me.