Thursday, April 9, 2009

Vintage Vault: Silk

How do you care for one of the most luxurious fabrics one can ask for in a DC summer?

Don't believe the hype: it's best NOT to dry clean silk garments, no matter what the care tag says. Let's review the steps to washing your awesome silk tap pants from the 1920s or gorgeous silk tank tops from Listopad (our obsession for the summer)--

1. Don't dry clean! Silk is a natural fiber, akin to human hair, that has been used in clothing for a long time. Dry cleaning is a relatively modern invention, so what did classy women used to do with their silk garments? HAND WASH.

2. Harsh detergents (cough, dry cleaning, cough) should be avoided. Woolite or dish washing soap (ideal for most vintage natural fibers) are gentle enough and will get the job done.

3. Don't soak. If the silk is getting kind of dingy, rinse it with some vinegar mixed in with the water. Best to keep the water cold/room temperature so as to not harm the fibers. No bleach either!

4. Don't wring out the garment. Roll it in a towel to absorb excess water and then let it air dry flat on a towel.

For great summaries on the differences between different silk incarnations (chiffon, crepe de chine, etc) check out this page.

1 comment:

woodley park-zoo said...

I love love the one purple silk tank top I picked up at a rummage sale, keep hoping I'll see more in the same loose simple style.

I read somewhere once that Woolite isn't quite as gentle as you'd hope, like it's actually some sort of bleach maybe? I've been too cheap in the last year to buy any anyway, so I've been using things like Method handsoap / shampoo (baby shampoo is supposed to be good for cashmere and such). I think in the same place I'd read the Woolite thing maybe they suggested Ivory Snow actually was gentle, or Orvis...? Not sure on the latter name, I know there is some O- product for gentle washing.