Laundry and Storage Guide

One of the reasons we love vintage clothing so much is that these pieces have lasted through time. Whether treasured away in the back of gran’s closet for the past 50 years, mended and passed through several hands or rescued after being stuffed in a trunk in the attic, they may require a little more love than  the pieces of modern clothing in our wardrobes.

Here are some tips for maintaining and enjoying your vintage and antique pieces; ideas that help us live a slower, more sustainable life by looking after or repairing what we have so they last that much longer.


I am still surprised by the never ending amount of laundry involved in running a vintage business. However the process of watching these beautiful garments go into a bubbly wash and coming out later smelling and looking renewed, transformed back into their original glory, is rewarding. Yet there are always stains and marks that refuse to come out and that is something that we must accept when wearing older items, they have history and it’s not always glamourous.

The first principle in laundering vintage is do not wash unless you have too. Washing weakens fibres and rusts metal, so in general the older the item the more careful you should be. For antique (pre 1920s), velvet, collectable items (such as deadstock with tags) or fabrics with special finishes (beading, pre 40s gelatin sequins, glazing, moire, starch, lame, paint, feathers) we advise not to wash at all, or to wash areas at your discretion due to the risk of old silk shattering, beads rusting, or sequins melting.

Here’s how to freshen up your vintage:

  • A great tip for wearing vintage is to wear a slip, t-shirt or even underarm guards to prevent perspiring on your garment.
  • Only wash the areas that need laundering, such as underarms and hems.
  • We recommend to hand wash everything pre-1970s and all evening wear.
  • Never use a dryer.
  • Spot check an inconspicuous patch, as well as coloured embroidery,  with a swab of your cleaning product before using. If the colour runs it may not be able to get wet so just clean the parts that are dirty.
  • Detergent: For natural fibres such as wool and silk we use a liquid castile soap or a grated block of plain soap. For all other fibres use a gentle detergent.
  • Stain Removal: Never use chlorine based stain removers or straight bleach. Oxygen based products such as Biz, Oxyclean and Vanish Napisan Oxiaction (100% sodium percarbonate), especially with added enzymes, are a go to for pre-washing and washing.

Process for hand washing:

  1. First check zips and fastenings are done up and shoulder pads removed. Remove any rusting metal (de-rust or replace these).
  2. Pre-treat a patch or whole garment with stain remover if needed.
  3. For delicate or antique items line your basin with a plain cotton sheet.
  4. Dissolve 1-3 TB of detergent with lukewarm water. Then fill up with a). cold water for synthetic or delicate fabrics (silk/wool) or b). hot water for colour safe cottons.
  5. Add your garment and gently move around, then soak for 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. If the water is dark then drain the water and wash again with less detergent.
  7. Rinse in cold water 2-3 times until water is clear and suds free. In the first rinse you can add white vinegar to help condition natural fabrics or remove smells.
  8. Drain and press the water out (do not wring the garment).
  9. Carefully lift the garment out, with the sheet if you used one, and roll up in a clean towel so it absorbs the water.
  10. Air dry flat on a rack or across several lines, away from direct sunlight.

Extra tips:

  • When draining the water be careful handling the garment. Gently press the water out and pick up the whole item in a bundle rather than pulling at a shoulder or sleeve.
  • If your garment is crepe rayon it will likely shrink in the wash. If this happens then very gently and regularly tease the item back into its original shape and size while it dries. You may be able to use a clothes steamer to do the same.
  • For garments made from velvet or special fabrics you do not want to wash try brushing them down with a soft bristled brush to remove dust. Vacuum such fabrics and accessories on a low setting and cover the vacuum head with mesh fabric to prevent any embellishments from being sucked up.

Once you have washed your garment the first time you will get a feel for what it can handle. We recommend to proceed with caution and enjoy looking after your special piece.


A vintage closet can be a wonderland and vintage items can add sparkle and character to your everyday wardrobe. By thinking about how you store an item you can help maintain its splendour for years to come.

For your everyday vintage:

  • Fading and wear to shoulders are the most common damage to everyday vintage clothes. To mitigate against these you can use padded hangers and fold woollen, heavy or beaded garments and store in a drawer or on a shelf. For long or heavy skirts catch these up on a second hanger to spread the weight. We suggest padding a plastic or metal hanger yourself and covering in pre-washed unbleached cotton. You can also pad trouser clips.
  • Store behind a door or curtain to protect from dust and sunlight.
  • Keep an eye on moisture levels, rusting metal hangers, insects, dust and anything that may snag on items. Good housekeeping means a good wardrobe.
  • Avoid storing in plastic tubs, bags or covers as this can cause oxidation- aka ‘foxing’.

For your extra special vintage you can:

  • Store antiques and special garments, such as a beaded 1920s dress, flat and preferably in an acid-free box or wrapped in lignin-free and acid-free tissue paper. Pad out the folds with bunches of the same tissue. Use buffered acid-free tissue paper for most fabrics and unbuffered acid-free tissue paper for silk and wool items.
  • Store accessories in unbleached and pre-washed cotton bags or pillowcases to keep dust away.
  • Pad clothes hangers with polyester wadding and a cotton muslin or calico cover.
  • Cover shoulders of garments with an extra cotton cover (made out of a large square of cotton with a whole in the middle for the clothes hanger neck.
  • Once a year wash your cotton covers and check for insect activity, especially clothes moth and carpet beetle. Then re-fold any folded garments along different seams.