Yvonne Manomano, cleaning operations manager at Handy, explores what you can do to bring discoloured or stained outfits back to life
Having partied the January blues away in your favourite outfit, you may be disappointed to find that your gorgeous dress or blouse is sporting a stain or two. However, despite the ‘dry-clean only’ label on your outfit, there are still a few things you can try at home before giving in and taking the dress to the professionals. Here are a few difficult party dress fabrics and instructions on how to bring them back to looking as good as new. Remember, it’s always wise to try any new method on a hidden part or on the inside of the garment to see how the material reacts first!
Silk can be slightly tricky to clean. Normally silk dresses and outfits are marked as ‘dry-clean only’, however, there are a few measures that you can take in order to fix your favourite outfit. If you spilled something greasy or oily onto the silk, simply dab it with baby powder and leave to sit for half an hour. Once the half hour is done, you can gently rinse the baby powder out – it should have absorbed the stain and your silk will be looking fantastic once again! If the stain is chocolate however, you should first scrape off as much as you can (be very gentle) then lightly scrub the affected area with soapy water.
If you’ve spilled alcohol on your garment, the answer is using a bit of warm water on the affected area, which you can dab away until you remove the stain. Lastly, if you want to get rid of the more stubborn stains, mix equal measures of water and vinegar and gently dab at the fabric, then rinse away. You can do the same with deodorant stains, but test on a small area first to see how the silk reacts.
The good news with velvet is that while it’s delicate, it mostly doesn’t require professional care to clean. As soon as a stain appears, soak up as much of it as you can with a paper towel or a cloth. This in itself can get rid of the stain, but if the mark’s stubborn blot the affected area with a little bit of soapy water until it disappears. Once that happens make sure you dab the velvet with dry, clean cloth so that there’s no residue from the soap left. When it comes to velvet, time is of the essence; leaving a stain to develop and settle into the fabric will not only affect the appearance, but can also change the fabric’s durability.
Sequins and embellishments
The beauty of sequins and embellishments is that they often protect the fabric beneath from any staining, meaning that a gentle rub is often all that the outfit needs. However, be gentle; rubbing too hard can cause the sequins and embellishments to detach!
It’s also important to pay attention to whether your embellishments are glued or sewed on (you can check this by looking on the back of the fabric) – glued on sequins shouldn’t be washed in hot water, as that can make the glue melt and cause the embellishment to detach. For an overall clean of a sequined garment, I recommend you wash it inside out by hand and take extra care to make sure the sequins don’t snag on each other or the fabric.
Lace stains need to be treated as quickly as possible – stains stick to lace quickly, which can then cause the fabric to stiffen and discolour. The best way to treat it is to first run the stain under cold water, then very gently rub baking soda into the material, leaving it to sit for five minutes. Once you’ve done that, rinse out the soda with cold water and then wash the garment in lukewarm water with only a few drops of detergent. Should the stain prove persistent, repeat one more time.