Tips on Cleaning and Storing Vintage Clothing

I have been selling vintage clothing online for several years now so I thought I would share some tips on cleaning and storing vintage clothing with you! I am going to keep this pretty concise and simple and perhaps in future posts I will expand a bit more on certain topics. 


1. As a general rule of thumb, if it looks very delicate and is an antique, do not attempt wash it. This is applicable to antique garments in silk, crepe, satin or features ornamentation such as beading and embroidery. The best thing to do is spot wash it and air out the garment.

2. Cotton antique lawn dresses should be handwashed and can handle warmer temperatures for water. Dry them on a clothing line or lay flat to dry. 

3. Vintage 1940s crepe rayon dresses should be dry cleaned but it is possible to wash these at home provided you have a lot of time on your hands as the garment needs to be stretched and ironed back to it's original shape while it's still very damp. As a word of caution and to save you time, just dry clean them. I have successfully washed and gotten stains out of 1940s crepe rayon dresses (holding my breath the entire time on the verge of a panic attack...) 

4. Certain stains are set in and may never come out. I've ruined a few dresses in my early years of selling vintage because I tried to get stubborn stains out of old dresses and then wore down the fibers in the fabric. Yellowed armpit stains in vintage silk dresses and tops may fade a little with treatment but will not come out. Your best option is to dye the garment or learn to be ok with stains.

5. It's generally a good idea NOT to use a dryer for your vintage clothing. Some vintage cotton dresses and tops and skirts may be suitable for the washing machine, but remember many women made their own clothes back then and perhaps the fabric was not preshrunk before it was made! Line dry or flat dry your vintage clothing whenever possible.


Unless you're storing something for historical purposes, most vintage clothing from our shop is meant to be worn and enjoyed. So, I'm not going to suggest acid free tissue paper for storage unless you're planning on only wearing that 1930s gown once and you never want it to see the light of day again... anyhow, here are my tips for storing vintage clothing!

1. When possible use padded hangers for your more delicate vintage pieces such as antique Edwardian tops and 1920s day dresses. 

2. Keep bundles of lavender and bay leaves in your closet. They keep nasty silverfish and other bugs away. And lavender smells so pretty. 

3. Do not store your vintage where they receive direct sunlight. This can severely fade colors and patterns and sunlight can start wearing down on the fibers of a fabric. Many crepe rayons will fade very quickly in sunlight. 

4. Certain fabrics shouldn't be hung up for long periods of time. This mostly pertains to garments that are dressier. A 1920s beaded dress should not hang loose in a closet. This is a type of garment you should store in a box or pillowcase. Or if you do hang out, hang on a large padded hanger with a garment bag that is the same length of the dress that way the weight of the beading is balanced, if that makes sense.

5. Fold vintage sweaters, don't hang them up. They'll stretch. 

6. If you are storing your vintage for long periods at a time, be sure to air them out once in awhile. 

That's all I have for you for today! Check back soon for more tips and updates in the Vintage Clothing Guide!