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How To

How-To | Caring for Vintage Pieces

Sep 20, 2017

If you are what you wear, then wearing vintage is one of the best ways to convey who you are without saying a word. Each piece tells a story and so in a way, you can become one of the storytellers. Forever passionate about the history of fashion, its evolution and ultimately, the care of each garment, The Laundress cofounders Gwen and Lindsey are committed to the preservation of iconic pieces and vintage treasures. As such, the Cornell alumnae are supporting the "fashion for a cause" benefit event presented by the Cornell Costume & Textile Collection. The event will give fellow fashion enthusiasts the opportunity to bid on rare items from the collection being auctioned off at the historic Prince George Ballroom on September 28, 2017. Details and tickets can be found here.

Keep reading to see a preview of some pieces being showcased at the event and care how-tos you can apply to your own vintage finds.

BEADED BEAUTIES (AND SEQUINS TOO)

Gather These Tools:

Stain Solution, Wash & Stain Bar, Scented Vinegar, Delicate Wash, Delicate Spray, Garment Bag 

STEP 1:
Pretreat 

Treat stains with Stain Solution or the Wash & Stain Bar. Focus on susceptible areas such as underarms, necklines, and cuffs. Stain Solution is ideal for protein and tannin stains, such as wine, coffee, ink, grass, urine, blood, and old, set-in stains such as pit stains. The Wash & Stain Bar works the material to remove dirt, grease, oil, and makeup. 

STEP 2:
Deodorize 

Over time, older pieces are bound to hold onto odor but the good news is these smells won’t outlive your garment. To remove them, presoak the item for 30 minutes in a mixture of cool water and ¼ cup of Scented Vinegar.

STEP 3:
Launder 

We always recommend handwashing embellished pieces. To do so, add a squirt of Delicate Wash to a wash basin or sink full of cool water. Submerge the item and gently agitate with your hands so the piece is sufficiently treated with the soapy mixture. Let soak for 30 minutes. 

STEP 4:
Rinse 

Rinse your piece with cool water. Do not wring or overstress the item, but rather gently press the water out. This will help protect it from deformation or dislodge any of the embellishment. 

STEP 5:
Dry 

Lay your item flat in its natural shape to dry on a drying rack or hang to dry. Never use a dryer as the process is too harsh for delicate pieces. 

STEP 6:
Finish 

We recommend using a steamer to remove any remaining wrinkles once your piece has dried. If you don’t own a have a steamer, carefully use your iron on the steam setting and gently hover it over the top of the garment.

STEP 7:
Ongoing Care 

To keep your item fresh in between washes, spritz with Delicate Spray, which includes antibacterial properties to keep odors at bay. Because beaded items are typically heavy, we recommend folding and storing your piece in a breathable cotton storage bag to protect from dust, mildew, and discoloration.

 

CREPE & SILK STANDOUTS

Gather These Tools: 

Stain Solution, Wash & Stain Bar, Scented Vinegar, Delicate Wash, Delicate Spray, Garment Bag 

STEP 1:
Test The Item 

While silk can be safely handwashed, occasionally the dies are unstable for washing. Additionally, finishes such as a smooth hand can be compromised when washing. To protect your garment, perform a water test on a small area. 

STEP 2:
Pretreat 

If your item passed the water test, proceed with pretreating stains using Stain Solution or the Wash & Stain Bar. Focus on susceptible areas such as underarms, necklines, and cuffs. Stain Solution is ideal for protein and tannin stains, such as wine, coffee, ink, grass, urine, blood, and old, set-in stains such as pit stains. The Wash & Stain Bar works the material to remove dirt, grease, oil, and makeup. 

STEP 3:
Deodorize 

To remove any odors or smells that have sunk into your garment, presoak the item for 30 minutes in a mixture of cool water and ¼ cup of Scented Vinegar. The solution will neutralize and remove odors. 

STEP 4:
Launder 

Handwashing is always the safest method for cleaning silk and/or crepe pieces. To do so, add a squirt of Delicate Wash to a wash basin or sink full of cool water. Submerge the item and gently agitate with your hands so the piece is sufficiently treated with the soapy mixture. Let soak for 30 minutes. 

STEP 5:
Rinse 

Rinse your piece with cool water. Do not wring or overstress the item, but rather gently press the water out. This will help protect it from deformation or marking the fabric. 

STEP 6:
Dry 

Lay your item flat in its natural shape to dry on a drying rack or hang to dry. Never use a dryer as the process is too harsh for delicate pieces. 

STEP 7:
Finish 

Most silk items will develop wrinkles after washing. We recommend steaming which not only removes wrinkles but also restores the fabric’s natural luster. If ironing, use the lowest heat setting possible and turn the item inside out while ironing. Using a damp cloth between the iron and the item is the safest method for avoiding burns or snags.

STEP 8:
Ongoing Care 

To keep your item fresh in between washes, spritz with Delicate Spray, which includes antibacterial properties to keep odors at bay. You may hang and store your silk piece in a storage breathing cotton hanging garment bag but be mindful of hanging clips, which can leave a mark on the material. The bag will protect from yellowing, bugs, and mildew. 

 

WOOL WONDERS

Gather These Tools: 

Wash & Stain Bar, Stain Solution, Lint-Free Cleaning Cloth, Scented Vinegar, Wool & Cashmere Shampoo, Wool & Cashmere Spray, Sweater Comb, Sweater Stone, All-Purpose Storage Bag 

STRUCTURED ITEMS
(Jackets & Blazers)

STEP 1:
Spot Treat 

When cleaning structured items like jackets and blazers, spot treating is recommended. Wet the Wash & Stain Bar into a lather and gently work into the stained area. Remove soap and dirt with a Lint-Free Cleaning Cloth. Dampen the cloth as needed to remove all of the soap. 

STEP 2:
Finish 

Finish by steaming the item to remove dust and odors.


WOOLEN KNITS
(Sweaters, Throws, Etc.) 

STEP 1:
Pretreat 

Treat stains with Stain Solution or the Wash & Stain Bar. Focus on susceptible areas such as underarms, necklines, and cuffs. Stain Solution is ideal for protein and tannin stains, such as wine, coffee, ink, grass, urine, blood, and old, set-in stains such as pit stains.

The Wash & Stain Bar works the material to remove dirt, grease, oil, and makeup. 

STEP 2:
Deodorize 

To remove unsavory odors, presoak the item for 30 minutes in a mixture of cool water and ¼ cup of Scented Vinegar. 

STEP 3:
Launder 

Handwashing is always the safest method for cleaning wool pieces. Contrary to popular belief, it’s safer than dry-cleaning as that process can degrade yarns. Wool is also sensitive to water temperature and may shrink if not treated properly. Add a squirt of Wool & Cashmere Shampoo to a wash basin or sink full of cool water. Submerge the item and gently agitate with your hands so the piece is sufficiently treated with the soapy mixture. Let soak for 30 minutes.  

STEP 4:
Rinse 

Rinse your piece with cool water until there’s no longer soapy suds visible in the water. If there’s a slight color in the water, don’t panic. The yarns are simply releasing excess dye and you won’t notice any missing color when the washing process is complete. 

STEP 5:
Dry 

Lay your item flat in its natural shape to dry on a drying rack or hang to dry. Never use a dryer. You may expedite the drying processes by laying the item on a flat clean towel.  With the item in its original shape, roll it up in the towel (like you’re rolling a sleeping bag) to release excess water. 

When drying, avoid direct sunlight or heat sources, such as a radiator, because that can cause yellowing, shrinkage, or other damage. Never hang woolens to dry as the hanger can cause the item to lose its’ structure. 

STEP 6:
Finish 

We recommend using a steamer to remove any remaining wrinkles. Never use an iron as it can crush or ruin the natural pile of the yarns. 

STEP 7:
Ongoing Care 

In between washes, use Wool & Cashmere Spray to freshen woolens. The non-toxic and allergen-free formula naturally repels bugs and keeps odors at bay.  

To de-pill items, we recommend our Sweater Stone for heavier woolens and thick gauge yarns and our Sweater Stone for delicate knits & fine gauge woolens.  To use either, lay the item flat and brush the stone or comb gently in one direction, using short strokes. 

STEP 8:
Storage

Knit items should be stored folded to prevent stretching or distortion. Always store items clean to avoid providing a “food source” for bugs who are attracted to woolen pieces. To prevent moths, mildews, and yellowing, always store pieces in a breathable cotton Storage Bag with a zip closure.

To learn more about the Cornell Costume & Textile Collection’s upcoming event and see more pieces from the auction, click here.

A SOLUTION FOR EVERY FABRIC

If you didn’t see your fabric how-to here, head to our Fabric A-Z cleaning guide here for a guide to caring for every textile imaginable.

Shop the Story

Wash & Stain Bar
$6.00

Spot-treat Stains

Sweater Comb
$18.00

De-Pill Safely at Home

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