How to Clean a Vintage Dress

So you’ve found a fabulous vintage garment and you can’t wait to wear it. But wait, it has a funny musty smell and 50 years worth of dirt sitting on it! Todays video should help you with the basics of getting your vintage dress all clean and smelling fresh.

Before you clean your dress it’s really important to check it over for any holes or tears. Washing may make these worse so make sure you repair them first. Generally hand washing is the best way to get your dress clean, however certain fabrics such as crepe do not respond well to water and may need to be dry cleaned. I put this one in the machine as it was in perfect condition and the fabric had been fine when hand washed. If you do choose to machine wash vintage clothes always use a pillowcase or laundry bag and a very gentle wash.

If your unsure of what your fabric is, you may want to research it. One of the best places to do this is the Vintage Fashion Guild’s Fabric Resource.

It’s always best to be very careful when cleaning vintage garments, especially very old ones so please be very cautious before washing a fragile item or a fabric you are not familiar with.

The dress in the video is a 1950s dress which I bought on eBay.

10 Comments

  1. jennifer February 24, 2014 / 12:47 am

    Great tips, I usually just soak in cool water with a tiny bit of oxi clean. The pillowcase idea is great, I will try that forsure!

  2. catwalkcreative February 24, 2014 / 6:36 am

    Great advice. The VFG resource is a fabulous tool too. I often use a colour-catcher sheet to make sure there’s no colour run – just in case!

    • vintagefrills February 24, 2014 / 8:52 am

      That’s a great idea, I’ll definitely start doing that from now on. Xxx

  3. emmalaw February 24, 2014 / 8:50 am

    Ooh, useful link to the fabric resource,will definitely be looking through that. Have you thought about a follow up post on repairing any washing damage?

    • vintagefrills February 24, 2014 / 8:51 am

      That would make a great post, I’ll do my research as I’m no expert!

      • emmalaw February 24, 2014 / 10:31 am

        My current technique is to put garment back in wardrobe and never touch it again, only to pine for it occasionally. 🙂

      • vintagefrills February 24, 2014 / 10:32 am

        Yeah me too!

  4. Author Jessica Eissfeldt February 26, 2014 / 6:15 pm

    These are great tips! Yeah, sometimes it is tricky to figure out the fabric – especially since sometimes the labels are cut out. Have you done a post about vintage hat care? When I did a photo shoot for my book cover, I found this really neat vintage hat with a veil – had to figure out how to get the crumples out. Here’s what I did: http://jessicaeissfeldt.com/find-vintage-hat/

  5. Jessica Cangiano February 28, 2014 / 10:38 am

    Terrific tips!!! I get asked about this subject often and will be sure to point folks to this post when I do from now on (your advice really jives with my own, I should add).

    ♥ Jessica

    • Author Jessica Eissfeldt February 28, 2014 / 5:05 pm

      Glad to help, and thank you for pointing people to the post. 🙂 So how long have you been a fan of vintage?

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