Here are our top tips for how to care for vintage clothing. Everything from how to wash vintage clothing, to what to do about stains or pesky odors, to how to store vintage clothing to prolong its future wearability.
We recommend hand washing vintage items in cold water. Delicate fabrics such as silk may react negatively to water, so always test first on an inconspicuous area if you’re unsure.
If a normal hand washing does not remove stains, we recommend using a gentle stain remover such as Shout. If the fabric is not too delicate, you can use a soft toothbrush to gently work the stain remover into the fibers to help release the stain. Let the stain remover sit from several minutes to overnight, then hand wash the garment in the hottest water it will safely allow (please refer to our material washing guide below).
To help remove odors, you have a few options:
If the fabric is water-safe, you can soak the item overnight in a 1:3 mixture of water and vinegar (i.e. 1/3 cup of vinegar for every 1 cup water used). After soaking, hand wash the garment as normal. The vinegar scent will fade when the garment is dry and you will be left with fresh, odorless vintage clothing.
If the fabric is not water-safe, you can place it in a resealable bag or plastic bin and sprinkle it liberally with baking soda. Allow it to sit for several days, giving it a shake every now and then to redistribute the baking soda, then shake out the baking soda, and carefully brush or vacuum out any remainder.
Another fun trick is to spray your vintage clothing with pure vodka (use the cheap stuff!). Vodka is a natural deodorizer that will take odors with it when it evaporates. This is perfect to use in between wears on pieces that you may not want to launder frequently such as dresses and sweaters.
If an item is very delicate, or made of a fabric that would be damaged by water, you can give it a thorough airing by hanging it outside in a gentle breeze, or in a large airy indoor space. Airing is a great alternative to washing any vintage item, as washing inevitably puts more strain on the fabric.
Store your vintage clothing in a dark, dry place. Sunlight can cause fabric dyes to fade, so store your vintage away from any direct sunlight.
When storing folded vintage clothing, it’s best to give lots of breathing room, instead of folding and packing away items tightly. This will help to avoid stretching or creasing.
If you choose to store your clothing on hangers, make sure to use padded hangers that will not cut into the garments’ shoulders; over time this could cause stretching or even tears in delicate fabrics.
Always handle and wear vintage items with care. Vintage fabrics are delicate, and in most cases, have already had previous wear. To maintain the integrity of your items, do your best to avoid stretching, wringing, pulling, etc. when washing or wearing vintage clothing.
Keep in mind that wearing vintage clothing that is too small puts strain on the garment and makes it more likely for the fabric to rips or tear at the seams or elsewhere.
If you have questions about how to care for a specific item you’ve bought, or something you’re interested in, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly for advice.
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