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…

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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So it could dry completely in the sun.

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The stains came out of the bottom!

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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.

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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!

    Like

  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!

    Like

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