Tips to properly clean five different kinds of fabric

Whether it’s a sofa or a skirt, eventually you will need to know how to clean fabric. The wrong technique can permanently damage and mar your beautiful fabric choices, so be sure you use the right approach for the job. Every fabric is unique and thus requires a unique cleaning method. Some of the most common fabric cleaning techniques are actually simple once you know how.

Antique fabric and lace. The most delicate fabrics require a gentle touch and very mild soap. Use tepid water and a delicate fabric cleaner. Mrs. Biddington of Biddington's Art Galleries and Auction recommends Orvus® WA Paste, a super gentle and non-detergent cleaner made of mostly water and sodium lauryl sulfate, often used for old textiles and rugs in museums or other conservatories. Don’t scrub, but let the fabric soak in the water for a short period of time, about 45 minutes. Rinse very well in warm water. Gently lift the fabric out of the sink, being careful not to let the weight of the fabric cause it to tear. Dry the fabric flat. Reblock, or shift into shape and weight the edges with a coffee mug or glass, if necessary, while drying.

Cashmere and wool. These natural fibers can be cleaned very easily at home; however, many manufacturers will recommend dry cleaning for best results. Using tepid water and a mild soap, soak the cashmere or wool, being careful not to scrub or wring the fabric. Rinse liberally. Gently press out the water and roll the fabric in a soft cotton towel to remove excess water. Dry the cashmere or wool flat. You may need to gently reblock the fabric to its old shape as it dries.

Polyester. Manmade fabric needs to be cleaned per manufacturer's recommendations. If no recommendations exist, most polyester fabrics are fine to machine wash and dry low. If the fabric seems stiff, add fabric softener to the wash cycle. It is unlikely that you will need to iron polyester fabric; however, if you do, use the lowest setting possible to avoid melting the fabric.

Linen and cotton. Linen is a fabric made of flax—a natural, plant fiber. Many new linens can be machine washed on a warm to hot setting, spun in the machine and hung dry or dried flat. Do not machine dry linen, as it will lose its shape and shrink. Iron the linen on the reverse side of the fabric when still damp to get out the wrinkles. Check if the item has special cleaning instructions because some linen may need dry cleaning. Cottons are usually easy to clean. Machine wash and dry with gentle detergent. Do not over dry as the heat can damage the cotton fibers.

Silk. This very delicate natural fabric can easily be damaged. Follow manufacturers instructions for best results. Many silks can be hand washed in a gentle detergent, rinsed well, rolled in a towel to remove moisture. Dry flat. Very low iron is recommended for wrinkle removal.

Note: Sodium lauryl sulfate is the main ingredient in many hair shampoos. Shampoos that contain this ingredient may also be useful in the care and cleaning of delicate fabrics when hand washing.
Brought to you by: American Profile