4 smart ways to wash your delicates

July 27, 2015

Washing machines have certainly made life easier. However, not every garment, especially delicate ones, can be machine washed. Here are four tips that can help you clean and restore your delicate fabrics.

4 smart ways to wash your delicates

1. Quickly erase stains

Delicate or antique items that have become stained should always be treated carefully.

  • Pre-treat any stain before handwashing.
  • Today's gentler pre-treat laundry products will probably suffice for most items, but a 10-minute soak in water with pre-dissolved detergent can also revive fragile garments.

2. The proper way to clean lace

Lace can be deceptively delicate — even the weight of water could tear a favourite piece.

  • If the lace is in good condition, wash it in a large jar with a lid.
  • Add a mild detergent to warm water, close the lid and shake.
  • Add the lace and shake again for a minute.
  • Rinse the lace in the same way, using clear water.
  • Dry flat on a clean white towel.
  • Another trick is to hand-sew fragile lace to an old sheet, then dip it into a basin of warm soapy water.
  • Rinse twice in clear water.
  • Let both lace and sheet dry before removing the lace.

When an item is aged and precious, such as an antique lace tablecloth, take special care even in handwashing it.

  • Lace tablecloths may have been any shade of white, ivory or ecru, so first determine what colour you believe it to be.
  • Then use diluted bleach accordingly.
  • Lay the tablecloth on a flat surface and sponge it gently with diluted colour-safe bleach, diluted detergent or diluted hydrogen peroxide.
  • Lay the item flat to dry, making sure it is away from heat and light.
  • If the process seems too potentially damaging, take the tablecloth to a professional cleaner for advice.

3. Cleaning organdy has never been easier

Organdy is made from muslin, so it can withstand washing.

  • Use mild soap and hot water, dunking the garment gently and continuing until it comes clean.
  • Rinse several times.
  • Line-dry or air-dry on a hanger.
  • To restore the stiff finish, press while still slightly damp on a low setting (check your iron for directions).
  • For extra-crisp fabric, take the garment off the line while it is still slightly damp, dip it in a bath of one litre (four cups) warm water and 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) borax, then hang it back up to dry.
  • When it is almost dry, iron it. Or use spray starch to give organdy a crisp finish.

4. Wash cashmere with confidence

  • Carefully hand-wash cashmere in cool, sudsy water, using a mild soap or detergent.
  • Rinse well, but try not to lift the garment up when rinsing — it can stretch the wool out of shape.
  • To dry on a clothesline, use two lines in the shade.
  • Turn the garment inside out and pin it flat to a sheet, then drape the sheet over the two lines, making a kind of hammock.
  • You can also dry cashmere by laying the garment flat on a drying rack that is made specifically for sweaters.

5. A simple way to clean satin

Dry cleaning is recommended for satin fabrics, but silk satin can be hand-washed in ice-cold water and mild soap. Satin made from acetate should be washed in warm water with liquid detergent or mild soap flakes.

  • Dunk the garment in the water until the soil is gone.
  • Rinse twice, then drip-dry.

Crêpe satin should be washed in warm water and liquid detergent or mild soap flakes, using the same dunking method.

  • Rinse the garment twice; then drip-dry.

Restoring your garments has never been easier! Follow these tips and clean those delicate fabrics with ease and confidence.

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