True Quality CleaningStraight talk about caring for fine garments & household textiles from an expert who calls it like it is. In plain English.

The cleaning and restoration of vintage garments: occasionally, complete success is elusive

At RAVE FabriCARE, we're entrusted with hundreds of antique, vintage and heirloom garments and textiles of all kinds every year (for example, click here, here, here and here).

In the overwhelming majority of cases, we've been able to produce excellent results (for example, click here, here, here and here). Occasionally, however, complete success has eluded us.

Consider, for example, this silk slip from the late 1950's, early 1960's, embellished with delicate embroidery and cut work.

The garment exhibited all the usual issues associated with undergarments of this vintage: old yellow stains, perspiration stains, bodily fluid stains and a funky, musty smell.

Bodily fluids (aka protein stains) on silk is one of the most difficult stains a dry cleaner faces on a daily basis.

When it comes to vintage garments, that degree of difficulty increases exponentially. And the reason? Those old protein stains have typically reacted chemically with the pigment of the silk to permanently change the color.

Even though our client was ecstatic that we were able to significantly brighten the slip and reduce the intensity of the old protein stains, we're always concerned when we're not able to achieve complete success.

The following before and after photos reflect the challenges associated with old protein stains on a vintage garment:

BEFORE -- FRONT AND BACK

Before front-back 1630 Before front-back 1640
Before front-back 1631 Before front-back 1641
Before front-back 1632 Before front-back 1643
Before front-back 1633 Before front-back 1644
Before front-back 1634 Before front-back 1635
Before front-back 1648

 

BEFORE -- STAINING

 Front

Before stains 1636 Before stains 1637
Before stains 1639

 

Back

Before stains 1645 Before stains 1646
Before stains 1647 Before stains 1648

 

Underarms

Before stains 1649 Before stains 1650

 

AFTER -- FRONT AND BACK

After F-B 2233 After F-B 2240

 

AFTER -- STAINING

Front

after stain 2237 after stain 2238
after stain 2239

 

Back

after stain 2241

 

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