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  For anyone who has ever pulled a sweater out of the dryer only to find it's now two sizes too small, or found that fabulous bright red colour that once lived on your shirt now has turned all of your clothes a lovely shade of pink, read on.
  Years ago I shuddered at the thought of washing my precious vintage garments, rightfully so as I am notorious for not sorting laundry, and everything goes in the dryer in regards to my everyday items.  Needless to say there are some casualties here and there.  Did I mention I'm not allowed to do the hubby's laundry?
  My vintage wardrobe is a completely different story.  They remain separate from anything modern and have their own system for getting the crud out.  Here are a few tips and tricks I have learned in restoring items for my business and wearing vintage myself.  The following is a bit of information on how to easily keep your vintage items presentable for years of wear. 
  Professional cleaning by someone who is familiar with vintage is always the safest way to go, but it isn't always necessary.  Just make sure to be careful and keep an eye on how the clothes are reacting to any washing method, and keep in mind that some older items, although rare, may turn to threads or react badly to any washing method, no matter how careful you are.
Storage
  The first most important rule of vintage clothing is never, ever use wire hangers! They are little thin destructive monsters that will destroy the shoulder seams of garments. Even lightweight lacy clothes have some weight to them, and when hung this weight is supported by whatever spot the hanger touches.  Vintage clothes are best stored folded and laid flat. If it's something that goes a while between wearing it's good to also wrap it in acid free tissue paper to keep the dust bunnies away.
Spot Removal
  There are hundreds of tried and true methods for stain removal from clothing.  The following is the easiest, safest method that I have found to be the best all around.
Rubbing Alcohol- Alcohol is great because it works on tons of different stains without you having to figure out what exactly that spot is made from.  Small stains can be removed by saturating a cotton swab and dabbing the area, make sure to dab, not rub.  To remove larger stains dampen a paper towel with the alcohol and lay it on the stain.  Make sure to put a clean white towel underneath the spot you are removing.  Let the damp paper towel remain on the spot for at least 10 minutes, up to a few hours if the stain is being stubborn.  Keep reapplying the alcohol to keep the towel damp, and blot the area occasionally.
Washing
Determining if it can get a bath
A lot of vintage clothing, especially items made pre-1960, will run colour all over everything in its path if it gets a bath.  To check if the dyes will stay put in water dampen a light coloured towel and press it onto a hidden area or very bottom edge of a garment.  After about 5 minutes if there is no colour on the towel, you are most likely good to go.  The "most likely" part is important because this method isn't always 100% accurate.  Make sure to wash each item by itself and watch for any colour in the water.  If colour starts to run take it out right away.
Colourfast and good to go...
  I never ever put anything vintage in the washing machine, it's just too much of a risk to delicate items.  Instead wash clothes in a sink or wash basin, or a bathtub for larger items.  Fill the basin with enough cool water that the garment can freely move around.  Neutrogena face soap (the most basic clearish amber bar kind) is a great detergent for items that are delicate.  Use a cheese grater to shred about a tablespoon per gallon of water into the water.  Let it dissolve and add the garment.
Baby shampoo is a great mild detergent for anything that is a bit soiled. Add about a cap full per 5 gallons of water.  Baby shampoo is excellent for removing ring around the collar too.
  Very carefully swish clothes around in the water, making sure not to lift them in and out.  Threads become very fragile when wet and can easily break if you are rough.
  Drain the basin and refill with clean cool water. Swish, drain, repeat until all signs of soap are gone.
  Press down on clothes to push out some water while they are in the empty basin.  I know it's tempting, but don't wring them or squeeze!  Carefully remove the garment buy picking it up as a ball and place it on a clean, dry towel. Spread the item out flat and loosely roll the towel up. Lay another dry towel on a flat surface where your garment can spend some time drying.  Carefully unroll the towel and transfer the item to the clean towel.  Patiently wait for your lovely vintage item to dry.
Not Colourfast...
  In this case you have a couple options...
1.) Have the item professionally cleaned, make sure the person doing the work is familiar with vintage because dry cleaning chemicals are harsh and can be the death of an older garment.
2.) Perform spot removal and allow your item to spend a day outside to get some fresh air smell.  Trust me this isn't yucky as some very old or delicate items just should not be washed. I only recommend this one though if the item will only belong to you, if you decide to give it a new home make sure to choose option #1.
3.)This method is a bit more involved, and can be risky, but works if you want to clean something completely and don't prefer to have it professionally cleaned.  Lay your clothing flat and place a white towel inside. Fill a spray bottle with alcohol and lightly mist the whole garment. Lay another white towel on top and press down to blot all areas. Repeat on the back side.  Lie garment flat to dry.  Some colour may still run, but it is usually very minimal. 
 
  These methods are all ones that I have used that I find to be the easiest with the most success.  There are hundreds more that can easily be found, and I highly recommend trying a bunch of different ones to find what works best for you.  I'd love to hear what you've found that works too!

 
 

 


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