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Laundry Service Tips for Washing Silk, Velvet, Suede, and Leather

How to Wash, Dry, and Care for Unusual Fabrics

Most of the time, you should send your unusual fabrics to a professional dry cleaner. However, it’s important to know how the pros care for your clothes. Here’s how to wash four of the most common unusual fabrics.

How to Care for Unusual Fabrics

As a professional laundry service, we wash a lot of laundry. 

Most of the laundry is simple, machine-washable laundry. It’s your everyday clothing, sheets, and towels. However, there are four unusual fabrics that require the most special attention – Silk, Velvet, Suede, and Leather.

Here are some tips on how to clean them.

How to Wash Unusual Fabrics | 2ULaundry

More Expensive Garments are Typically Harder to Clean

It’s not a perfect correlation. However, more expensive garments tend to be composed of more unusual fabrics which makes them harder to clean. Unusual fabrics indicate:

  • Perceived Value: The use of rare, high-quality materials and intricate craftsmanship increases the perceived value of the garment.
  • Exclusivity: The need for special care reinforces the idea of exclusivity and luxury, as these garments require more attention and care to maintain.
  • Longevity and Care: Luxury items are often designed to last longer with proper care, which may necessitate more delicate cleaning methods. Ironically, improper care almost always results in damage.

This is nothing new. Historically, luxury garments have often been associated with intricate designs and delicate materials. For example:

  • Pre-Industrial Era: Clothing for the wealthy was handmade from natural fibers like silk and linen, often with elaborate decorations. These required careful hand-washing and special care.
  • Industrial Revolution: As mass production became possible, luxury garments continued to be made with superior materials and craftsmanship, distinguishing them from everyday wear. Dry cleaning was developed in the mid-19th century to care for these delicate fabrics without water.
  • Mid-20th Century to Present: The introduction of synthetic fabrics and advanced fabric treatments has made some high-end garments easier to care for. However, true luxury items still often require special care.
How to Wash Silk Clothing | 2ULaundry

How to Wash Silk Clothing

Silk is a delicate fabric that can be easily damaged if you accidentally wash it improperly. Do not risk it with silk! Follow the care tag instructions. With silk clothing, you have two options: Dry Clean or Hand Wash.

  • If a tag indicates “dry clean only”, your best bet is to take it to a dry cleaner who can carefully care for it as they wash it.
  • To hand-wash silk, first, fill a basin with cool water and drop your item in, fully submerging it. Hand washing doesn’t require much scrubbing. It is all about time and temperature. Soak the silk garment in warm water for 45 minutes. Only after 45 minutes should you slightly rub the garment to agitate the dirt away. Learn more about hand washing with our step-by-step guide to delicate hand washing.

What are the Different Types of Silk Clothing?

  • Charmeuse Silk: A lightweight, glossy silk with a satin finish on the front and a matte finish on the back. It is often used in lingerie, blouses, and eveningwear. Care Instructions: Hand wash in cold water with mild detergent or dry clean. Do not wring or twist; gently squeeze out excess water and lay flat to dry.

  • Chiffon Silk: A sheer, lightweight, and plain-woven silk often used for scarves, blouses, and eveningwear. Care Instructions: Hand wash in cold water with a gentle detergent. Avoid wringing; gently press out water with a towel and air dry. Alternatively, dry cleaning is recommended.

  • Crepe de Chine: A lightweight, textured silk with a slightly crinkled surface. Common in blouses, dresses, and lingerie. Care Instructions: Hand wash in cold water with mild detergent or dry clean. Do not wring; press out water gently and lay flat to dry.

  • Dupioni Silk: A crisp, textured silk with irregular slubs, often used in formalwear and home decor. Care Instructions: Dry clean only to maintain texture and sheen. Hand washing can alter the fabric’s finish.

  • Habotai Silk: A lightweight, smooth, and plain-woven silk, also known as “China silk.” Used for linings, lingerie, and lightweight garments. Care Instructions: Hand wash in lukewarm water with a gentle detergent. Avoid wringing; gently press out water and hang to dry.

  • Organza Silk: A thin, plain-weave silk that is sheer and crisp, used in eveningwear, bridal gowns, and overlays. Care Instructions: Dry clean only. Hand washing can reduce stiffness and affect the appearance.

  • Shantung Silk: A medium-weight silk similar to Dupioni but with a finer texture and more pronounced sheen. Used in suits, dresses, and home decor. Care Instructions: Dry clean only. Hand washing can damage the texture and sheen.

  • Tussah Silk: A type of wild silk with a rougher texture and natural color variations, often used in more casual garments. Care Instructions: Dry clean recommended. If hand washing, use cold water and mild detergent, and air dry.

How to Wash Silk Clothing | 2ULaundry

How to Wash Velvet Clothing

Velvet is very easily damaged by water. If you are unable to check the garment care tag, consider performing a quick “Spot Test.”

To perform a spot test on laundry, choose a hidden area of the fabric, such as an inner seam, and apply a small amount of the cleaning solution or water with a clean white cloth or cotton swab. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, then rinse and observe for any signs of color bleeding, fading, or fabric damage before proceeding with full cleaning.

Most of the time, your velvet clothing will fail the spot test and need to be sent to the dry cleaner. However, if it passes the spot test without any bleeding, hand washing is preferred. Velvet is incredibly susceptible to heat damage. Never use a tumble dryer or iron directly on velvet. Avoid the dryer and lay your velvet garment flat to dry.

How to Wash Suede Clothing | 2ULaundry

How to Wash Suede Clothing

Suede is often brushed to clean – it is not washed. 

Begin by gently brushing the suede with a soft-bristled brush to remove loose dirt and surface dust. For spot cleaning, use a suede-specific cleaner or a mixture of white vinegar and water. Apply the solution to a clean cloth and gently dab the stained area without saturating the fabric. After cleaning, blot the area with a dry cloth to remove excess moisture, then allow the garment to air dry away from direct heat or sunlight. Finally, once dry, use a suede brush to restore the fabric’s nap and maintain its soft texture.

How to Wash Leather Clothing | 2ULaundry

How to Wash Leather Clothing

‍To hand wash your leather items you’ll first need to make a soapy solution with water and just a bit of castile soap or special leather soap.

Dip a lint-free cleaning cloth in the solution and apply gentle pressure as you slowly wash away any stains or dirty spots.

After you wash away the dirt and clear off the soap by using a lint-free cleaning cloth dipped in just water, you’ll want to let your item air-dry by either laying it flat or hanging it to dry.

If your leather item is especially delicate or pricey, you may want to consider having it professionally cleaned instead of taking on the task yourself. Whatever you do, it’s important to recognize that while some items might come out looking okay if you choose to use the washing machine, you’re always risking damage when you don’t hand wash your leather or have it professionally cleaned.

Don't Use Fabric Softener on Delicate Laundry | 2ULaundry

Don’t Use Fabric Softener on Delicate Laundry

You may think that fabric softener on delicate laundry is a good choice. It’s not. Fabrics softener coats your garments and is insoluble – meaning your coat now has a coat of softener on it…

Fabric softener may seem like a friend to your laundry, but in reality, it doesn’t provide any actual cleaning benefits. It doesn’t remove stains or eliminate odors from your clothing. Instead, it coats your clothes in a waxy, water-resistant layer that, while initially making them feel softer, actually reduces their ability to absorb water and detergent over time.

Remember, fabric softener is not necessary for a clean wash. We recommend that you avoid fabric softener altogether to keep your clothes and your washing machine in the best possible condition.

Send Unusual Fabrics to Dry Cleaner | 2ULaundry

Send Unusual Fabrics to Dry Cleaning

The dry cleaning process is meant to handle your unusual fabrics. 

  • The cleaning process safely cleans your special garments without using water. Garments are placed in a large industrial machine and then submerged in the chemical solvent. The clothes are cleaned at a low-spin rate – ideal for soaking stains and not causing too much agitation to delicate garments.  All garments are checked for stains before being pressed.
  • Pressing is a laundry word for “ironing.” After the cleaning, your garments are pressed for a crisp, professional look.
  • Any garments that can’t be pressed are finished with a steam treatment to remove any wrinkles or imperfections. All dry cleaning garments are checked by a “Spotter” before packaging.

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