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How to wash vintage clothes without causing damage

While it’s true that the majority of vintage clothes require a little more TLC than modern apparel, it’s definitely possible to wash them without causing any damage. However, it’s extremely important to keep in mind the do’s and don’ts associated with washing vintage clothes.

Let’s break down how to wash vintage clothes without causing damage, as well as what to avoid in the process.

How to wash vintage clothes

Vintage clothing is delicate, and it requires special care when washing. Most vintage garments should be hand washed in cool water with a mild detergent that’s specifically designed for delicates. You’ll definitely want to avoid using hot water and putting the vintage clothes into the dryer (since this can cause shrinkage and potentially damage the fabric). 

Here are some additional tips for washing vintage clothes:

  1. Patch Test: Start by doing a patch test on a small area of the garment to see if the fabric is colorfast. If the color bleeds, you’ll need to take special care when washing the piece.
  2. Hand Wash: Fill a sink or basin with cool water and add a mild detergent. Gently swish the garment around in the water and let it soak for a few minutes.
  3. Rinse & Dry: Rinse the garment in cool water, being careful not to wring or twist it. Gently squeeze out excess water and lay the garment flat to dry.
  4. Consider A Pro: If you’re not sure about how to wash a particular item, it’s always best to take it to a professional dry cleaner who specializes in vintage clothing. With proper care, your vintage clothes will last for many years to come.

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What not to do when washing vintage clothes

Washing vintage clothes is a delicate process. In order to avoid damaging your precious vintage pieces, here are some things you’ll want to avoid during the cleaning process:

  • Avoid harsh chemicals and bleaches. These substances can cause discoloration and fading. 
  • Avoid hot water. Hot water can shrink and discolor the fabric.
  • Avoid vigorous scrubbing. This can cause unnecessary damage and potentially rip or stretch the fabric.
  • Avoid unnecessary heat. If possible, line dry your vintage garments or lay them flat to air dry. 
  • Avoid using too much detergent. This can cause yellowing and discoloration to occur.

Keep Reading: How to clean vintage jewelry

What detergent can you use to wash vintage clothes

Anyone who has ever tried to wash a delicate vintage garment knows that regular laundry detergent just won’t do. The harsh chemicals and rough scrubbing can quickly damage delicate fabric, leaving it stiff and brittle. 

To preserve the delicate fibers of vintage clothes, it’s important to use a gentle detergent that is designed for hand-washing. Look for a detergent that is free of fragrances, dyes, and other harsh chemicals. 

You should also avoid detergents with optical brighteners, as these can cause yellowing over time. Instead, opt for a natural or eco-friendly detergent that will be gentle on both your clothes and the environment. 

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How often should you wash vintage clothing?

Depending on the fabric and the level of wear, vintage clothes may need to be washed after every wear or only once a season. In general, however, it is best to err on the side of caution and wash vintage clothes only on rare occasions. This will help preserve the fabric and prevent any unnecessary wear and tear. 

If you are unsure about how often to wash a particular item, consult a professional dry cleaner for advice. Best case scenario, only spot clean the garment as needed and take extra steps to protect your vintage clothing when you do decide to wear it. 

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