Don't Wanna Wreck Grandma's Closet
March 19, 2007 7:28 PM   Subscribe

I need Cleaning Vintage Clothing 101.

I have acquired, as part of costuming a show, a number of vintage pieces in varying conditions (mostly excellent to good condition). They all need to be cleaned and pressed. I am unsure how to to proceed, as this doesn't seem like the sort of thing one simply drops at the drycleaners and trips away thinking All Will Be Well. Do I look for a particular sort of drycleaners? One that advertises a particular sort of service? Do I soak the garments in a weak solution of Oxy Clean or similar? Does what sort of fabric it is matter?

For context, I have worked with "vintage" clothes before, but these are from the 40's, and the other things I've dealt with have been from the 60's and 70's primarily, so not as old and usually of manmade fibers. I'm dealing with crepe, satin, linen, vintage millinery (no, really), tulle, lace, rayon, wool, and cotton.
posted by Medieval Maven to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would hand wash cotton and linen at home, perhaps even the lace depending on the fiber content, in Lux or Woolite. It's never wise to send cotton or linen to the cleaners, I would think this goes for vintage also.
posted by LoriFLA at 7:54 PM on March 19, 2007

Best answer: This is the relevant page from the ever-fabulous Fashion Era.
posted by vetiver at 7:57 PM on March 19, 2007

Best answer: In the "Atlanta-ish" area, I'd recommend European Cleaners, 4568 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, 30319 - (404) 231-3848 They have a wedding dress preservation service, and do difficult fabrics like velvet, as well as offering hand blocking services for high end men's clothing. Not cheap, but can probably do what you need done, and will tell you if they can't.
posted by paulsc at 10:03 PM on March 19, 2007

The rayon pieces you can hand-wash in Woolite and hang dry--just be very gentle when wringing out the water, as rayon fibers are weaker when wet. A gentle pressing between the hands is better than twisting roughly, and they will drip dry quickly in the open air, even if they seem sopping when hung up.
posted by Scram at 10:53 PM on March 19, 2007

I wanted to get married in my great-grandmother's 1914 cotton lawn wedding dress, but it had badly yellowed. We soaked it in the bathtub in a weak solution of OxyClean for 8 hours or so (checking on it and moving it around off and on) and it turned white again and was in good shape. (And I then wore it to my wedding!)
posted by leahwrenn at 12:01 PM on March 20, 2007

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