- Vintage clothing requires special care. Check first to see if the care tag survived. If it did, follow the instructions to the letter. Likely, the garment does not have a legible care tag, or if it was hand constructed, never came with one.
- Determine what fabric the garment is made out of. If in doubt consult someone more knowledgeable or take it to a dry cleaner.
- Hand washing is the safest option. Fill a clean sink or plastic tub with cold water for natural products like cotton and use warm water for synthetics like polyester.
- Add gentle detergent. Brands to try–Ivory Snow, or Woolite. Use ¼ cup of powder, or one cap of liquid detergent for every gallon.
- Gently scrub stains with an old toothbrush. If there are stubborn stains, OxiClean seems to work when cleaning vintage clothing. Create a paste to treat collars or underarm stains. Rub on and then cover with plastic wrap to hold the moisture in place for several days.
- Rinse out all the soap. Drain the sink, or empty the plastic bin, refill with clean water and swish the item. Gently rinse until no soap remains.
- Dry your vintage clothing on racks instead of the dryer. If you do not have drying racks, lay out on clean white towels. Use another towel to blot up some of the moisture.
- Machine washing is possible with certain vintage items. Heavier retro garments, cottons, denim and thick polyester can be put in the washer. If you decide to go this route, be sure to turn the item inside out first and use cool water. Vintage denim should always be washed in cold water.
- When in doubt, dry clean. Vintage clothing made from suede, wool, velvet or an item with lots of decorative embellishments should be sent to a reputable dry cleaner-preferably one who specializes in vintage clothing.