Fluffy Edwardian Gown + How I Learned to Clean it

So I actually own very few antique garments. I don’t have much space for storage, so it’s not something that I seek out…


But when something like this Edwardian gown jumps off the rack at me, how can I say no??


I bought this dress almost three years ago, now, and didn’t know what to do with it for quite awhile. I was so scared I’d somehow damage it, that I just tucked it away in my trunk until I could do some research on how to properly clean antique linens.


The dress is in really good shape – no major holes or tears and the fabric is strong. The only thing is that elastic around the neckline has lost some of its elasticity.


There are a couple of noticeable stains towards the bottom of the dress.


Particularly at the hem. So I knew I would need to clean it sooner or later so I could pack it away and store it properly. After doing lots of research on the best way to clean antique garments (opinions vary quite broadly), I picked up a bottle of Woolite Extra Delicates and filled the tub with lukewarm water.


Holding my breath, I carefully laid the dress on top of the water and pressed it down evenly. I let it soak in the water for several hours, refilling the soap + water a couple of times before rinsing it very, very clean.


Then I rolled it carefully up in a towel to wring out the excess water and carried outside.


So it could dry completely in the sun.


The stains came out of the bottom!


And the dress made it through the whole thing in great shape! It’s been carefully packed away now for a day when I have more space and can take it out to examine it more closely.

The dress taught me a lot about the careful laundering of vintage textiles, though, and I’ve used the same method on other linens since then with similar success.


It’s always surprising to see how dirty the water is! The fabric always looks so clean at first!

On a related note, I recently bought a bag of Retro Clean after seeing some great success stories on Instagram. I’m really eager to give it a try. Has anyone tried it before? If so, what did you think of it?

6 thoughts on “Fluffy Edwardian Gown + How I Learned to Clean it

  1. Great stuff- is it actually edwardian or 1970s-does-Edwardian? I only ask because of the elastic, and the shape of the skirt looks very Biba-esque? It’s a beautiful fins in any case, and you’ve cleaned it up a treat!


  2. I use Soak for most of my delicate hand wash needs. I’ve only used normal woolite and sometimes it’s a little harsh. Glad to hear they have a gentler formula!


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