By: Debra Warwick

Antique clothing is often beautifully made or it would not have survived so long. But lets remember that it is second hand and all second-hand garments have by definition been worn before. As such you should always check particular stress points such as under the arms, zips, fastenings and look out for tears, moth holes and other problems. Some damage is perfectly repairable, but if the material is too worn, it will eventually disintegrate into nothing.

Vintage clothes often need to be professionally cleaned, watch the cost of this as it may turn out to be more than the clothes you purchased in the first place. Try your best not to allow them to get stained with those ever so nasty substances like grease and liquids like red wine or in fact anything that todays extensive biological detergents would have no problems removing.

Where you can wash, but be careful when using a delicate hand wash liquid as they usually contain chemicals that can increase the deterioration of vintage materials. Wash and rinse, rinse, and rinse again. When it comes to our trusted washing machines, again, common sense is a needed. Wash on delicate at a warm to cold temperature, and hang out to dry, never, never, never tumble dry. I have always found that if you are unsure consult a book, there are quite a number of them on the market.

It may be possible to remove small spots but be careful not to damage the fabric. Before attempting to remove any spot you should always test the fabric, whether its spot cleaner, alcohol, water etc. Test in an area that is not noticeable. The removal of a stain successfully usual depends on the stability of the dye and its good to remember that red is the least stable colour so be extra careful with this colour. I would not advise one of the more modern stain removers as who knows what kind of effect that the chemicals used in these may have on your piece of vintage history. Rayon, velvet, acetate and weighted silk all of these fabrics, especially in older clothing can be quite fragile. You should not try to clean weighted silk in any way. Bring it to a professional cleaner. Older rayon and acetate become very weak when in contact with water. Alcohol can make dyes run in rayon and acetates. Cleaning fluid is your best bet for removing spots from these fabrics. Be kind and gentle with all cleaning methods. Wringing, scrubbing fabric weakens it. It is best to press water and cleaners through the fabric with the flat of your hands.

Sometimes the clothes you buy may not need extensive cleaning but they have an overwhelming and totally undesirable musty smell, An air ionizer works great at getting odours out of otherwise clean clothing. Just put the clothing in a fairly sealed room with the machine for a day or so and the problem is solved. This is especially good if it has a smoky odor to it. Be careful though, do not put items with rubber or elastic, or vinyl in with the ionizer. It will cause those materials to disintegrate!

About the author:

Debra spends most of her time on her vintage clothes blog, Vintage Clothes.

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