Care Tips

"Care for your garments like the good friends they are." — Joan Crawford

Along with quality construction and fabrics, how you care for your clothing determines how long they will last. We all know that the more you dry clean, the faster items wear out. It's not the most environmentally friendly way to care for your clothing. You can save money and help save the environment with some simple tips.

Steaming dry-clean only dresses and jackets after wear helps release any oils and dirt. Wool is naturally odor resistant due to its unique properties. You can read more about it on the Woolmark site, but here are some of our tips to reduce the amount of dry cleaning needed.

Before you put any wool item back into your closet let it air out for a day or two. 

You can use use plain (cheap) vodka in a spray bottle to remove odors as it has antibacterial properties. 

You can use Marseille or castile soap to spot treat any stains or remove deodorant from the underarms. 

For sweaters or gentle cleaning, a detergent formulated for delicates like baby shampoo will work for woolens and silks. We also like the German detergent Purwoll for silks and wool knits. 

Every Senza Tempo garment is lined with silk instead of polyester so that the garments are fully breathable and this allows you to dry clean less.

**Never forget: Polyester attracts oil from your skin so it needs to be washed more often. 

Orvus Paste, Ivory Flakes, Marseille block soap and Johnson's baby shampoo are all the go-to detergents used in museums. Other gentle detergents: Eucalan for wool and Forever New for delicates, Charlies or even Dreft for everyday items. To remove yellowing from whites or other items soaking in Restoration or Retro Clean powders is gentle but effective.

The key to choosing the right detergent is finding something that won't damage the fibers, which isn't always as easy as it sounds. You want to avoid an enzyme detergent when washing silks which can degrade the fabric over time and change the feel of it.

We also recently reviewed a series of detergents and stain removers in our monthly newsletter:


Hand washing silk 

  1. Pre-treat the underarms to prevent yellowing from deodorant on items like the Marilyn I (in the past we used The Laundress Stain Solution but now use Castile or Marseille soap.) 
  2. If you are going to hand wash a colored item you will want to first soak the item in very cold water and 1.5+ cups of white vinegar depending on how many items you are washing. The vinegar helps set the dye to prevent fading. Don't be afraid to be generous with the vinegar — it won't hurt the garment and can be used in place of detergent for items that are not terribly soiled.
  3. Soak the top or pants in VERY COLD WATER ONLY with a tiny bit of the detergent formulated for silk. 
  4. If the item isn't very dirty, you can always just soak the item in white vinegar and cold water. Vinegar is great to add to any laundry load if you want to reduce the amount of detergent you use.
  5. Swish the items with your hands and let soak for a few minutes.  Leaving the vinegar in the water helps deodorize and sets the dye for black items.
  6. **Museum conservation tip: you can take a cheesecloth to put on top of the garment while it soaks, so whatever dirt floats up off the garment is captured by the cheesecloth instead of back onto the garment.
  7. Empty the bin and rinse the garment until the water runs clear (we fill a small tub, swish the garment around, empty the tub until the water is clear.)
  8. Then add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of vinegar (or more - again it won't hurt the garment) to the tub and let the garment soak with the water and vinegar. Vinegar removes any residue from the detergent to restore the silk's natural luster. 
  9. Rinse the garment with cold water until it is clear in the sink or tub (we do at least couple rinses to ensure all the soap has been removed.)
  10. Lay the tee on a towel and roll up to sop up the excess water. NEVER WRING OUT WET SILK AS IT WILL STRETCH.
  11. Lay flat to dry.
  12. Once dry, use the silk setting on your iron and for additional protection place a cloth in between the iron and the garment like a pillowcase. This will prevent the iron from burning the fabricYou can also iron while the item is damp, but again to be safe put a sheet or piece of fabric between the the iron and the garment.

Note: you want to remove as much moisture as possible because the longer silk is in contact with moisture the sooner it will yellow. Gently rolling it in a dry towel repeatedly (using a dry towel with each time) and then iron to gently press the last of the moisture out can help prevent premature yellowing of white or light colored silk items.

Soaking in PLAIN white vinegar and cold water also helps remove/prevent yellowing without damaging the silk.

Never lay silk in the sun as this will cause silks to yellow faster and can break down the fibers. 


    Washing on the Delicate Cycle - Micromodal

    A few extra steps when washing the Pat, Claire and our other micromodal items will help keep them looking like new. 

    1. Always remember COLD WATER ONLY and DELICATE CYCLE and try to use a detergent formulated for delicate clothing. For fabrics prone to pilling like any jersey, using a gentle enzyme detergent (we like Dirty Labs) can help keep the garment looking its best over time.
    2. Turning the items inside out the way you turn your jeans inside out to preserve the color and putting the items in a mesh bag like this set will all help keep the items from pilling over time. 
    3. Use a small amount of detergent.
    4. Wash on a gentle cycle. 
    5. Try to wash like with like especially for delicate fabrics like knits — this is a good rule of thumb that goes beyond separating lights from darks — wash knits with knits on a gentle cycle. Don't include towels or other heavier items that can pull or rub against the fabric. 
    6. Once the item is done we use the air dry setting for 20-40 minutes minutes to help remove any wrinkles and then lay flat or hang over a drying rack.
    7. Smooth out the wrinkles while the item is still damp so you don't have to iron.
    8. Use a padded hanger to keep the garments from wrinkling and to reduce tension. We like to use thickly padded trouser hangers like this to store the Studio 54 collection.


    Additional Tips and Resources:

    Remember that different types of stains require different treatments depending on the fabric. Protein-based stains may get set permanently if you use the wrong method on the wrong fabric.

    Remember silks are more delicate and the wrong detergent/treatment can damage the hand of the fabric, we always recommend using the gentlest solution.

    Vinegar is one of the best most all purpose natural cleaners and deodorizers for your home and wash. You can use a smaller amount of detergent and a cup of vinegar in your wash. It's a great way to remove residue from detergents or fabric softener build up from your towels and athletic wear. If items aren't terribly dirty, you can use vinegar to refresh them when hand washing or in the machine.

    Lemon Juice + sunshine is a powerful combination for stubborn stains. Hanging whites (not silk though!) to dry in the sun is one of the best and natural ways to keep cotton whites bright.

    Sunshine instead of bleach if you have the time to lay your whites in the sun to let them bleach naturally, you can take them outside while they are still soapy and hang them where they will receive at least five hours of direct sunlight. It's also a great way to remove odors naturally — especially for any woolen items.

    Eucalyptus Oil is an excellent grease stain remover that won't damage most fabrics. 

    Borax, our grandmothers loved it. You can add a dash to your laundry for extra sanitizing. 

    Tea Tree Oil for times when you want to disinfect the laundry and cannot use hot hot water, tea tree oil has antiseptic, antibacterial, germicidal, and fungicidal properties. 

    Plain Vodka is a natural disinfectant due to its high alcohol content. Just don't dilute it with water and of course don't use a flavored variety.



    Martha Stewart's tips on washing delicates
    Martha Stewart on washing silk


    Check out our upcyling book for ideas on how to revive old items.