Cleaning vintage - A Beginners Guide

Cleaning vintage is nothing to be scared of, that's been my lesson this month.

I bought this dress on eBay for £6.00. I really liked the simple pattern with the hints of yellow in the flowers, it was so cheap because it was in need of some love.

I had to consult my good friend Catherine's YouTube channel to remind myself of her instructions on cleaning a vintage dress.

The dress was sold as seen, it had some very old pins in the hem of the slip underneath which were threatening to rust. Other than taking the lining hem up and giving it a jolly good clean it didn't have any big issues so I decided to take it on as a project.

Cleaning a Vintage Dress - Beginners Guide.

1. Research - do some research online and know what you are dealing with. Most older dresses won't have care labels. Try and find out what you can about the fabric, this dress is nylon.

2. Repairs - check over the garment and do any repairs necessary before washing. Also check any shoulder pads and make sure they are not disintegrating.

I took out the pins, there wasn't anything to repair, I'll start the process of taking it up again once it's clean.

3. Soak the garment in cold water for a few hours. This will lift out the general grossness. This is the colour of vintage!

4. Empty out the groggy vintage water and replace with clean and add a mild detergent. I used this Aloe Vera cleanser from Forever Living because it doesn't contain any harsh chemicals, you can wash everything from your floors to clothes with it!

5. Give the dress a good wash, I use a sort of kneading motion to move the cleanser through the dress. You'll want to be gentle with more delicate items, you have to judge it by the item itself.

6. Leave to soak in the cleanser for a few minutes more then rise, I like to use a bucket filled with clean water, emptying and refilling the water as I go to make sure all the bubbles are gone.

7. Sometimes you can leave it at this but this dress still had that musty vintage smell so it needed a second wash. I put the dress inside a pillowcase, tied the pillowcase with a hairband and put the dress on a 400 spin cold wash with a non bio washing liquid.

8. Dry your item flat over a clothes horse, if vintage has weak fibres they can often be in the shoulders as a result of being hung for years so hanging it wet by the shoulders or waist is a bad idea.

9. Now the dress is dry it's time to iron it through a bedsheet so it doesn't get burnt.

10. The dress came out beautifully and I spent some time repinning it and taking it up for my height.

I wore the dress to the most recent North London Vintage Market Event with my new white vintage hat, link to the markets blog here

You can see Vintage Frills brilliantly handy video taking you through all these steps here. I will definitely feel more confident in rescuing items in the future!

Until next time




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