How To Care For Vintage Clothing

Linda Connell, owner of Recycology and exhibitor at the Love Vintage Fair in Sydney this weekend, shares her tips on how to care for your precious Vintage finds.

Have you ever bought an incredible one-off vintage piece, only to watch in horror as the fabric dissolves in your hands after a machine wash? Follow these tips to ensure your pieces last another few decades!

Caring for vintage clothing depends on the age of the garment, the fabric and cut of the garment. Generally, vintage garments don’t require more work than our modern clothes. If you spend a lot on a modern piece then of course you look after it – and the same applies to Vintage. If its a delicate fabric then more care is required. But garments were made so well back then; and although they stand the test of time, they still need care.

Making Whites Whiter

Aldi cleaning products can work just as well as expensive products. D-San can be used for soaking & freshening up whites. The spray stain remover is great for concentrated areas.
Also try going "back to basics" using lemon-juice, bicarb or borax. Sard soap is great, and of course the SUN! Fresh air & sunshine can do wonders on stains and getting rid of stale smells.

Dry Cleaning

Find a local owner/operator and build a rapport. Small business’ seem to really take more care if they are cleaning on-site, and if there are any issues you deal direct with the cleaner. Natural fibres such as wool-crepe, silks, crepe, taffeta should be dry-cleaned. Remove the buttons (it’s horrible if one goes "missing" at the cleaners,) plus check bead work for loose threads before taking it to dry cleaners.

Machine Washing

If you love to machine-wash (who doesn't?) then synthetics are the go. 60's/70's fabrics like Crimplene, Nylon, polyester, jerseys and cotton all wash perfectly. Most drip dry. Anything with hooks should be folded gently into a net bag and zips and buttons done up.

Woolen knits can be hand-washed, I also prefer to hand-wash a lot of the day dresses from 50's era, or they can be gently machine washed on a wool-cycle.


Never store anything in plastic ! Fabric needs to breath; pillow cases are great, as is acid-free tissue. To keep moths away I use lavender pouches. Squeeze the lavender to release the aroma.

Silks, velvets, taffetas, chiffon, organza and bead work need to be stored carefully. Velvet I prefer on padded hangers, because if the "pile" gets crushed it is hard to restore. Silk velvet is more delicate than its cotton-velvet cousin.

Store super delicate beaded silks and chiffons from the 20's & 30's flat in a long cardboard box, with layers of acid free tissue paper between the folds, and lining the box as well.
Never hang delicate fabrics on wire hangers, however the padded "granny" hangers are perfect for finer fabrics and knits, when the garments are in your wardrobe for that season. Store away off hangers when the season has changed.


We've all had them! If you see a garment you want to buy, or one you've inherited or had for years and its damaged by rust, mold, holes, decide whether you can live with-out it if you decide to resurrect it (and fail!)

There are "invisible menders" out there, specialist leather cleaners, tailors, dealers at Love Vintage, who can all give you advice on whether its worth pursuing. Mold on leather is quite difficult to get rid of. Small holes can often be fixed with iron on mender! "Rust" can often be removed (but not from silk) but "caramel" marks are really difficult; they are like the age-spots on old skin. Sometimes its best to just dye them a deep colour, rather than weaken the fibers by bleaching them further.

What should you not buy? Well anything that is too small for you, thinking "ah yes, but I'll lose weight... "!

For more information on Recycology visit Linda’s Facebook page. Or, be sure to visit Linda at the Love Vintage Show this weekend in Sydney!

For more information, or to find out when it is coming to your capital city, visit

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