HANDLE WITH CARE
First of all a little bit of history about the introduction of the official ‘washing instruction label’ in 1957.
Before the introduction of washing labels, there was no way to see of what kind of material a garment was made of, let alone how it should be treated. Some manufacturers labeled on their own initiative, but they all used their own symbols and text.
For this reason, the washing instruction label was introduced by the Association for Textile Labeling for Laundry and Ironing which was established in October 1957. The washing instructions, and the accompanying booklet, was mainly intended for (future) housewives that were responsable for a clean household.
The reason for the introduction was that the original, familiar fabrics such as wool, cotton, linen and silk were supplemented or replaced by more modern fabrics, such as dralon, trevira, terlenka etc. The housewives back then, who were responsible for the laundry, didn’t know how to treat/clean these fabrics. The garments could be damaged by hot washing or ironing. Bleaching agents could also have a devastating effect on these fabrics. Mixing these synthetic fibers with the traditional fibers led to more and more different fabrics, a clear washing instruction became necessary.
Tip! Washing labels were introduced at the end of 1957, therefore garments with a washing instruction label aren’t older. It could help you date your vintage item(s)!
HOME WASH OR DRY CLEANER?
Most vintage garments such as crêpe dresses, woolen jackets etc. are not suitable for a machine wash at home. Always check your garment on washing labels. If there is one in your garment, always follow the instructions (also see table below). Many vintage items in our shop (everything before 1957, handmade & tailor made items) do not have any washing instructions and therefore it is always advisable to take the them to the dry cleaners.
Do you jave any doubts about washing yourself or going to the dry cleaners? It is just a small investment on top of your newly purchased vintage item, but it isn’t it worth it to wear it for many more years instead of wrecking it by washing it yourself? Most items will lose their odor (like sweaty underarms after a long night of dancing) when you simply hang them outside for a few days (especially when it is cold outside!)
Ok, so you decided to bring your garment to the ‘dry cleaners’. How does it works?After your garment has been pretreated and destained it is cleaned in a special machine with the chemical liquid perchlorethylene. Perchlorethylene is an organic solvent, with a large cleaning and degreasing capacity for water-insoluble dirt. It is therefore a volatile liquid with degreasing properties, which means that soiled areas such as greasy collars and stains such as grease, gravy, candle wax, oil etc will come out during the proced, while with a home wash this often does not work.
The steam that is used only serves to heat the cleaning machines and for the finishing process (pressing and ironing).