How To Wash Vintage Clothing

Vintage clothing can be haute couture or everyday-wear garments made back in the "good old days". Such garments have an elusive quality that makes them desirable to own, but this does not mean that all old garments are vintage! What distinguishes vintage from old clothing is the quality, brand worthiness, desirability and customer demand, not to mention price! Care and maintenance of fine vintage clothing is essential and is not similar to the standards applied to your regular clothing. Washing vintage clothing depends on the type of garment - whether white, made of old lace or rare decorative patterns. Read what follows and find out the best ways to wash vintage clothing.

Things you will need:

Mild detergent, towel, stain remover, rubber or latex gloves and padded hangers

Before you wash any vintage clothing, find out the fabric type of the garment. Consult a dry cleaner if in doubt. Make sure to zip up any garment with zippers. Wet the corners of the fabric with water and detergent to check for color-fastness. Always pre-treat stains with stain remover. Use cold water for cottons and warm water for synthetic fabrics. Use rubber or latex gloves to dissolve a mild detergent in water, a quarter cup of powered soap or one capful of liquid detergent mixed per gallon of water, is an acceptable ratio. Dip the garment into the mixture and gently rub together using your gloved hands. Use fresh water to rinse out the soap as many times as necessary. Use a padded hanger to hand the washed vintage clothing; lay it over a towel or flat surface to dry.

There is always a debate on how to wash your vintage clothing. With vintage clothing, there are both merits and dangers of washing or dry cleaning. Hand washing vintage is the most preferred and safe way to protect them from any damage, in comparison to using the washing machine and dryer!

A good airing also helps remove bad odosr, while keeping the garment intact. The best way to maintain your precious vintage clothing is to wash it as little as possible! Rigorous washing and drying will only damage the old and delicate fibers.

Alternatively, find a reputed dry cleaner who knows how to care for vintage clothing. Allow the vintage clothing to breathe and restore it, so try not to wear it two days at a stretch without airing in between.


  • Wash one garment at a time
  • Store in a dry, dust-free place away from direct sunlight (humidity and dampness destroy delicate fibers and sunlight damages the color and prints).
  • Avoid use of plastic covers for storage.
  • Use wooden hangers or cloth-covered hangers for best protection (metal hangers will rust and leave stretch marks).
  • Do not wash embroidered silks or satins (velvet, crepe, taffeta, etc) yourself, always get them dry-cleaned.
  • Repair any small damages such as rips, tears immediately as they can only get worse with time.
  • Dab white vinegar or lemon juice to remove any underarm stains caused by a deodorant

Good vintage clothing is as good as old wine! It gets better with proper care and maintenance during its long lifespan, just as one would age a bottle of good wine or scotch!


Share this article!

Follow us!

Find more helpful articles: