"To Washing By Specialist Only"?
December 21, 2019 7:45 PM   Subscribe

I bought a dress in Paris this year. I like it. I didn't bother to check the washing instructions (my bad!) before I bought it and the only washing instructions are the mysterious "To Washing By Specialist Only". Any advice?

It is a very thin cotton and supposedly hand woven and tie dyed in India.

Does that mean dry clean? I'm pretty sure if I take it to a laundry in Indonesia, this is not what they mean by "a washing specialist".

I've ruined one dress this year in a washing mishap. I'd prefer not to do it again. How would you approach?
posted by frumiousb to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are there symbols anywhere on the tag, by chance?
posted by charmedimsure at 7:51 PM on December 21, 2019

I would suppose the issue was color-fastness (whether or not the color has been set not to run when washed).

Drycleaning is best for non-colorfast garments, However, you can handwash them in cold water with a no-rinse detergent (like Eucalan).

You can test for color-fastness by: dampening a small area of hem or inside seam with water then ironing a piece of white fabric or butcher/kitchen paper onto it. If the fabric/paper soaks up any colour, your garment isn’t color fast.
posted by crush at 7:59 PM on December 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

If it's cotton - I would gently handwash and either lay flat or hang to dry.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:00 PM on December 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

No symbols at all, charmedimsure. Just what they said.
posted by frumiousb at 8:11 PM on December 21, 2019

Sounds like dry clean only to me.
posted by dbx at 8:12 PM on December 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

A lot of Indian dyes arent colorfast. The most well known are Madras plaids which run if they get wet at all, like even with rain or sweat. I wouldnt risk even spot testing a garment that said specialist clean only. Dry clean and be careful with your lovely garment!
posted by ananci at 9:34 PM on December 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I will try dry cleaning. I had thought maybe it was a bad English translation, but even in French it doesn't say to dry clean-- it says "specialist cleaner". I guess honestly a dry cleaner is my only hope. Thanks.
posted by frumiousb at 10:12 PM on December 21, 2019

I had some very thin Indian cotton which I tried to hand wash in cool water, and the issue was not only the color, which ran, but also the texture which was permanently ruined. Definitely dry clean only.
posted by mumimor at 10:36 PM on December 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Some non color fast garments will run when dry cleaned; it depends on the solvent used. Go to a "on premises" dry cleaner and ask them to test the solvent for color fastness before choosing a method.
posted by crush at 7:34 AM on December 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Well, yes, you have to be concerned about the colorfast-ness or lack of it. Also shrinkage and/or stretching if loosely woven. OTOH, it is tie-dyed so it has been in water. The problem with dye running is not only the garment fading, it's the dye bleeding into the lighter areas of the dress.

There is something called Synthrapol that keeps the dye particles in suspension so they won't attach to anything but it might not be readily available. A DIY version is white vinegar in the wash but I've never tested that. But since you are in Indonesia, home of the finest quality batik in the world, there should be someone local who can advise you. They probably use soda ash/washing soda but it depends on the fabric content and the type of dye used.

Also, a lot of tags list things like "wash separately" because yes, the dye will run the first couple times in the wash but also because the store doesn't want you to come back and complain. I've washed batik and tie-dyed clothes in the washing machine with other dark colors like jeans and have not had problems with dye transference. However if I wash them by hand, usually by being lazy and letting them soak for a while in the bucket, I get a lot of color bleeding out. That's because I let them soak rather than doing a brisk wash/rinse.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 12:27 PM on December 22, 2019

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