Velvet is a luxurious fabric with a soft, glamorous finish. While this opulent material is both fabulous and fun to wear, it can be quite difficult to maintain or wash velvet. Vintage velvet pieces need to be treated with extreme care so that they can remain beautiful for years to come. If you have extraordinary vintage velvet pieces that you want to keep fresh, there are several ways to clean this delicate fabric.
A fabric that dates back to Ancient Egypt, velvet clothing has been captivating people for thousands of years. Velvet is a type of fabric that is characterized by its dense pile, which gives it a plush texture and notable shine. This fabric has long been associated with the ruling class and was popular with European nobility during the Renaissance period. Velvet once again gained an immense amount of popularity in the 1920s, when, thanks to the Industrial Revolution, it was easier than ever to manufacture. This popular fabric was used to make luxurious evening gowns and shawls, and quickly became a staple during this fashion-forward decade. It also rose to popularity again in the 1970s and 1980s, as it perfectly aligned with the decadent tastes of these time periods.
Synthetic or cotton velvets are relatively easy to wash and can often withstand a standard washing machine’s cold gentle cycle. In contrast, silk velvet eveningwear that also includes intricate beading or delicate embroidery should almost always be cleaned by professionals. For most vintage velvet garments, however, handwashing is sufficient. To successfully hand wash velvet items, turn the garment inside out and place a gentle detergent on the flat, untextured side of the fabric. Detergent should always be used very sparingly and should never exceed a teaspoon’s worth. Once the soapy water has been sufficiently pressed through the fabric, rinse the garment thoroughly to remove all excess suds.
When a velvet garment gets a small stain, spot treating the area can minimize damage. As always, the sooner you treat the stain, the easier it is to remove. First, blot away any excess residue. Then, using a cold, moist cloth, brush the fabric in one direction only to prevent the pile from being damaged further. If the stain proves to be exceptionally stubborn, a very small amount of detergent designed specifically for delicate fabrics can be applied to the fabric at the site of the stain. If soap is used, use a damp cloth to carefully dab away any excess soapy residue.
Drying & Proper Storage
High-quality velvet should never be placed in the dryer, as extreme temperatures can ruin the delicate material. If velvet has been completely submerged in water, hang or lie the garment flat so that it can successfully air dry. For spot treated velvets, blot the area with a clean towel before air drying. To prevent further damage to this gentle fabric, proper storage is key to preventing unwanted wrinkles. Always hang velvet garments on padded hangers so that they are not subject to creasing. If an item has been folded, a handheld steamer can raise and reset the pile to reduce unwanted lines.