I recently purchased the most beautiful vintage nightgown, didn’t take the time to inspect it thorougly only to arrive home disappointed. The all lace bodice was ruined ~ tunning white nylon gown loaded with the most beautiful lace, just destroyed.
How? from being on a wire hanger. And no.. I’m not going to go all Mommie Dearest on you.. but wire hangers are NOT vintage clothing’s friends.. or anyone’s for that matter.
So~ here you go.. some basic tips, care and washing instructons for vintage lingerie and delicates:
Do Not hang your delicate vintage nightgown. If you must, please use the padded hangers aptly called ‘lingerie hangers”.. these are great for blouses as well or anything delicate.
Never hang nightgowns that have lace or spandex straps, like an Olga on a hanger. The weight of the gown, the stretch of the fabric will result in extra long straps and a gown a few inches longer and unwearable.
Store vintage delicates folded in a drawer, using acid free tissue between each piece. Fabric needs to breathe, no plastic please.
Items made after 1972, will have required fabric care labels and washing instructions.
If you use the washing machine on delicate cycle, put delicates in a lingerie laundry bag and into the machine. Laundry bags are little mesh bags with zippers. They allow suds to penetrate as well as rinse water through the mesh while protecting the item from agitation and possible tearing.
The “old fashioned” method of hand washing, in the kitchen sink is still the best. Common sense dictates to NOT mix colors, wash only like colors together. Color does run, most particularly in vintage with older dyes used.
1. Fill sink with LUKEWARM water (never hot!)
2. Pre-treat all stains. You can use the Woolite or product you are washing it with, applying a dot of detergent to the area and gently rub it. An extra soft baby tooth brush works well on some fabrics, but be careful as it can break the fabric fiber.
3. Add very mild soap, you can use Woolite or any brand of baby laundry detergent like Ivory Snow or Dreft. if an item is very soiled, I love my Wisk.. just a teeny tiny bit as it is a strong detergent but it does the job gently.
4. Mix detergent in water to create suds, add your items. Do no more than two at a time to soak. Allow them to soak about an hour usually, if bad, overnight.
5. Swish item in the water gently to make sure its clean. Do not rub, do not wring.
6. Rinse well, and rinse at least twice to make sure all the detergent is removed. Let the water run over the item until it is clear. Again, do not wring or twist. On the second rinse you can add a drop of fabric softener and let the item soak a few minutes in the softened water, then rinse that out thoroughly.
7. Lay flat to dry, either on a raised drying rack or on towels. I usually put towels on my kitchen table, roll the item in the towel to remove excess, then lay it flat on the towel. Some items can be hung to dry on a padded hanger. I also hang many items outside to dry under my covered porch.
*DO NOT hang lingerie in direct sunlight. Whites will yellow, colors will fade.
* If an item has a strong moth ball, cigarette or other offensive odor I add a tiny bit of ammonia to the wash water. This removes all odors, and is also good for “brightening” colors.
* Never use Bleach..even on white nylon it will cause it to yellow.
* Blood stains can often be removed with Hydrogen Peroxide (not the hair peroxide!) on a Q-tip to the area, and rinse immediately as often the peroxide will cause the blood to run. You can do it directly under the running water, applying peroxide, rinsing as you go until the blood is removed.
* If you have a peignoir set, make sure you wash both items at the same time. We wear the gowns more often than the robes, so often neglect the robes. The result will be a gown that is faded from wash, and a nice bright color robe.. washing together will keep them the same color.
* Although washable, Rayon and silks will often shatter. They also wrinkle terribly when washed. I would recommend dry cleaning on those items. Remember, if they are from 1940’s they are SIXTY years old.. please handle with care.
* Never put Chiffon in the dryer. Never iron Chiffon. it does steam nicely if you have a steamer.
These are just a few basic “common sense” tips.. Your vintage items have held up for decades. Treasure them, and treat them accordingly ~ With proper care and attention, they will last decades more.
(c)VonVintagePretties ~ may be reprinted WITH permission and linked authorship.