Thursday, July 19, 2012


Ask a Clean Person: There's No Laundry Care Tag. EVERYBODY PANIC.

My dear boyfriend just got back from Afghanistan (hooray!) and brought with him many fun presents. Among which was a burqa for me. It's half-ly a keepsake gift, but is also very beautifully embroidered and I think it is wonderful and would like to keep it nearer to me than in the back of a drawer. However, it smells very strongly of sandalwood maybe? I really have no idea. Being that it was made for domestic consumption, it also lacks a laundering tag, and I have no idea what material it's made out of. Definitely not cotton or silk. Maybe polyester? Again, no idea.

So, short question after a long explanation — do I really have to be that girl who brings a burqa to the dry cleaners or is there some way for me to de-scent it at home?

This is such a neat question! And actually, more common than you'd imagine, in that quite often we find ourselves with an item of clothing sorely lacking in a laundry instructions tag. And I have two answers for you, both of which are blessedly simple.

The first solution will serve to pull smell out of clothes that you don't know how to wash; however, it will not actually clean the garment, so if you're also interested in giving it a thorough washing skip straight ahead to solution #2. For those of you who are still with me, there are these really cool activated charcoal thingamabobs that work GREAT for pulling odors out of stuff that stinks. 

In order to use it, place the burqa in an oversized ziploc bag or a sealable plastic container, along with the charcoal insert and leave it for a few days. When you take it out, the smell should be neutralized.

The second option is to handwash it in cool or cold water and a small amount of a gentle detergent; truth be told, there aren't many fabrics that will balk at that sort of treatment. In the case of the item you're working with, since smell is an issue, you may also want to add either baking soda or vinegar. PLEASE NOTE THE 'OR' IN THAT SENTENCE. While we do love ourselves some baking soda and vinegar volcanoes, in this scenario that's not what you're aiming for, so choose one or the other. If I may be so bold as to make a suggestion, white vinegar is a better choice here because you mentioned that the garment is embroidered, in which case the vinegar will also serve to set any dyes that may be tempted to run.

Okay so, our basic handwashing instructions go something like this:

Step 1. The best place to do your handwashing is in kitchen sink (CLEAN THE SINK FIRST), though the tub or bathroom sink will also work. Or a bucket. Mostly you just need a place where you can create a standing body of water. Do not, however, flood your kitchen while laundering items in your sink the way, ahem, I may or may not have done this week. (Ever wonder how I know how to do all this stuff? Because I am a disaster of a human being who NEEDS to know how to do all this stuff!)

Step 2. Plug the drain, begin filling the sink with cool water and a mild detergent of your choosing. You don't need or want to use a lot of detergent; a teaspoon up to a tablespoon will do it. Now add in the item in need of washing and let it sit in its bubble bath for 10 or so minutes.

Step 3. Next, you'll want to go in and gently press on it just a bit, while submerged, to help release any dirt trapped in the fabric. Then drain your wash water, plug the drain and refill the sink with clean water before re-submerging the garment and agitating it a bit to release the soap. You may find you need to do this twice.

Step 4. To dry, you'll first want to gently squeeze out as much water as you can while the item is still in the sink, being careful not to wring or otherwise get too rough in your handling of the fabric. Then lay out a clean towel and place the wet item on it, then roll the towel up in order to squeeze more water out. The final step is to reshape the garment and allow to dry either flat or on a drying rack.

That's it really! If a smell is particularly strong, you may choose to do a combination of the two processes, beginning with the charcoal insert followed by a handwashing. But! It's up to you to use your good judgement on that one.

And finally, I speak for myself and the rest of the gang here at The Hairpin in saying that we're so thrilled your boyfriend is home safe and sound! Hooray indeed!

In the process of following some (in hindsight, not-so-great) online tips for getting greasy lip balm off silk, I caused a huge, fairly noticeable water stain on a brand-new handmade silk cocktail dress. According to the dry cleaner to which I brought the dress, they can't do anything, and the only thing to do is to soak the whole dress in water with a little non-bio detergent, rinse it, and let it dry. The dry cleaner cautioned, however, that this process might shrink the dress or change its texture by making it stiffer or less shiny.

I'm a bit terrified of further damaging the dress, especially its current beautiful lightness and sheen, by following these instructions, because the dress was handmade in Hanoi through a social enterprise student organization that works with several Vietnamese tailoring co-operatives. (The bespoke dresses help pay for a tailoring school for economically vulnerable women, which is awesome!)

There aren't any manufacturer instructions to provide any hints as to what else I could do. How do I get rid of the water stain without further proving that I shouldn't have nice things, especially beautiful '30s-inspired teal silk cocktail dresses? I feel horribly guilty for maybe already having permanently damaged the fanciest thing I've ever bought before I've even worn it once. Help!

Okay first of all hi hello may I also please have a bespoke '30s-inspired teal silk cocktail dress? Because I'm not actually even sure how I've managed to live this long without such a thing in my life.

But I have a job to do, and so it's my pleasure to tell you that the dry cleaner gave you good advice. Yes, you might sacrifice a bit but overall the dress will still be wearable. (I do so love it when a question arrives in my inbox with information that can be useful to others. Plus: less work for me!)

I do, however, have  a couple of li'l tips for you:

  • Only use a very, very, very small amount of detergent. Like, a teaspoon. If you can get your hands on a product made for silk, even better. Here's one silk-specfic detergent that's good; I'm not sure if you'll be able to get it in the UK but is at least a good jumping off point.
  • When you're ready to rinse the dress, add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the water, which will help to prevent the silk from taking on a matte finish.
  • Don't soak the dress too long; you really want to make this a quick process. Also maintain a single water temp — either cold or lukewarm — as silk doesn't react well to temperature changes.
  • You can use a steamer on a very low setting, held at a safe distance from the dress to prevent further water damage, to help restore the softness/feel.

Now then! Are any of you guys interested in learning more about the organization from which LW ordered her pretty dress? Because I sure was! So I asked her for a bit more which I'm sharing with you all.

The group is called Alora, and it's run by students at Cambridge University. I think they have mostly or only sold gowns to Cambridge students, but maybe there are a few 'Pinners here who might want to take advantage of it next year. To get a dress, you book a slot at a fitting  — they hold several a year, in both Michaelmas [Fall] and Lent [Winter] term — to work out a design and get measured, the students develop a sketch and translate the measurements and design into Vietnamese, and then the pattern cutters, tailors, and embroiderers take over. About 40% of the price students pay goes toward the training school and/or funds the education of 3 trainee tailors. This page explains specifically where (and to whom!) the money goes. It's a pretty brilliant idea, and it seems to be working out well so far — they sold about 60 gowns this spring, if I remember correctly!

Doesn't that sound so fantastic?? (Also: MICHAELMAS *SHOVES FIST IN MOUTH TO STOP THE SCREAMING*) Do you all know of similar organizations Stateside? Let us know in the comments! (Oof. It's the first time I've ever written that and now I feel dirty. Which is an unusual feeling for me?)

Previously: Cleaning Air Conditioners and Fans

Jolie Kerr is not paid to endorse any of the products mentioned in this column, but she sure would be very happy to accept any free samples the manufacturers care to send her way! Are you curious to know if she's answered a question you have? Do check out the archives, listed by topic. More importantly: is anything you own dirty?

97 Comments / Post A Comment


Speaking of sheen I have a question about cotton sateen! I washed a pair of cotton sateen dress pants and now they don't look sateen-ey anymore. I have not ironed them yet. Will they get shinier again when I iron them? How can I get it back? Or is it gone forever? Because I have a matching jacket that is still sheen-y and I would be sad if they no longer matched.


enjoy it and shut up@n


I have a dress on which the tag says, "Do not wash."

Not "Dry clean only," not "Spot clean," not "Hand wash in cold water." "Do not wash."

What is that about!!! What, they expect me to wear it forever and let it get stinkier and swampier with every passing day and do nothing about it? So far I've been washing out the armpits with cold water and Woolite and hoping for the best.


@werewolfbarmitzvah Look at the chart! There is also a "Do Not Dry" option? Are you supposed to just keep spritzing yourself to keep it moist? What the HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLL?!!?!


@werewolfbarmitzvah Was it, perhaps, tailored by Napoleon ?


@werewolfbarmitzvah I have a dress that also says that and it makes me really scared to like... wear it anytime that isn't for an outdoor event the dead of winter where I know I probably won't sweat due to either weather OR overzealous indoor heating.

Which means I never wear it.



@werewolfbarmitzvah I would take it to a dry cleaner.


@werewolfbarmitzvah The Freezer! Stick it in a freezer bag, pop it in the freezer for a few days, and voila! stink no more! I do this with my jeans, cause it drives me crazy how fast they wear out, and then I have to go try on 300 pair again because no company makes them the same from month to month, i swear.

but yeah. try the freezer. doesn't help with stains/spots though, just funk.


@TattyEmu The freezer is a thing that works?? I've got to try this immediately.


@werewolfbarmitzvah Okay, this was still bugging me many hours later, so I googled it all. "Do Not Wash" means it can be dry cleaned, just not washed by you. "Do Not Dry" means don't machine dry.

(in case anyone reads this now).


Also throw your jeans or dress or whatever over the shower rail instead of washing - the free steam clean! Kills the germs but the stains this does not help.


Wait, wait... there's a difference between "line dry" and "drip dry?" I thought these were the same! Curse you, Soap and Detergent Association, for making my life more complicated.

dj pomegranate

@Dancercise If it's on the line, doesn't it also drip!??!?!?!

Judith Slutler

@dj pomegranate I am guessing this refers to whether or not you need to do the whole squeeze-out-water-with-a-towel thing before hanging the garment up.


@Dancercise I always thought 'drip dry' to mean "do not wring" - like with sweaters. I usually blot between two towels and dry flat.


Ok, this is COMPLETELY unrelated to laundry, but it's an immediate clean-person emergency, so PLEASE HELP!

The little girl I babysit is going to Brazil for the next 6 weeks, so I volunteered to take care of her hermit crab while she is gone. When I went to feed the little guy this morning, I saw tiny white bugs (the size of commas) crawling ALL OVER the food dish. So I immediately scalded the food dish in hot water, burning those suckers and washing them down the drain. But the internet told me they are mites and that they are probably all over the tank and the poor little crabby. The internet also told me how to get rid of the mites in the tank (buy new supplies, scald everything in boiling water), but my question is this: are the mites now going to be ALL OVER MY HOUSE? Are they going to escape the tank while I'm at work today and make nests/lay eggs in my very clean, lovely apartment? If they are going to, WHAT DO I DO? I cannot scald my place in boiling water!


@olivebee *TINY SCREAMS*


@olivebee I am *guessing* that those mites favor the hermit crab and all its byproducts, and that they're not really interested in yours, and hence are less likely to venture out into your stuff. Your stuff is probably not a great home for them. They tend to stick with their preferred host. BUT I am basing this on a fairly basic working knowledge of creepy/parasitic insects (I had an infestation of another kind of little parasite at one time and learned many things!) combined with a dash of optimism. People that know real bug science may think differently


@olivebee All the tiny screams!
This is only sort of related, but I had a million tiny spiders living under my deck last week and every time I sprayed them down with a hose and got all their webs, they would be back, hours later, with a new giant web. So I went to Home Depot and bought some crazy bug spray thing that you put on all the windows and doors and it makes, like a barrier I guess? But they all went away! I don't know about mites at all but if I were you I would probably not hesitate to get some chemicals up in there, yo. But I am also irrational about bugs, so there's that.

Does Axl have a jack?

@olivebee Ok, so. One of my friends has the same problem with her cat food dish, which we were discussing just yesterday. Apparently, and she seems to have established that this is true, they cannot climb. So I'd say that cleaning the hell outta the tank and getting a new thing of food and keeping it in a sealed container at all times should take care of things pretty well.


@Does Axl have a jack? @HeyThatsMyBike

Thank you for making me feel better!! I kind of suspected they would stick to the thing they want (food and crab), but UGH BUGS!


Do you know what that stuff is called? My current place doesn't have any bug issues (that I know of....and hopefully not these mites), but for future reference, I would love anything that keeps them far, far away.


@permanentbitchface : WHAT. WHAT MADE THE BUGS STAY AWAY. I need whatever it is, RTFN. (logs into HomeDepot.com account, taps fingers)


@collier @olivebee
It's Raid Max Bug Barrier. It doesn't have great reviews on the Home Depot website but there's only 2, so. It worked at my house anyway! I got the not-biggest size but almost there that had an automatic sprayer, it was only like 10 or 15 bucks I think.

OH but this stuff was supposedly made for specific types of bugs, spiders included. So it might not be a good ant/roach/whatever killer but I bet they have others for that kind of thing!


@collier I also have this stuff for my "water bugs" (southern for giant fucking cockroaches). It's not 100% on those, but does pretty well for a lot less than I'd pay an exterminator. And I haven't seen ANY ants, earwigs, etc. since I started using it.

evil betty

@olivebee I got a serious mite infestation in my kitchen last summer. I'm not going to tell you much about the circumstances, because the memory still makes me cry. However learn from my experience that if they do spread they can still be got rid of.

The mites did not respond to insecticide but we got rid of them in a few days by washing down the surfaces with a mild bleach solution and then drying thoroughly (apparently they like moisture so you don't want to leave things damp). They got into our electrical appliances (including toaster, cd player and coffee maker) -the toaster was a goner but I bagged up the other appliances in rubbish bags for a few days to suffocate the suckers and then vacuumed and flushed the coffee maker through with boiling water. They haven't been back since.

Roxanne Rholes

http://www.njabiniapparel.org/ , yo! Bags and jewelry right now, but in the winter they had lovely scarves and hats.


Questions on mysterious fabrics:

A) How do you wash rayon/viscose rayon? I have a dress that is viscose rayon that I must have washed wrong and shrunk, but only in the butt area (so it looks like I constantly accident tucked a bit of the dress in my underwear). Any way to fix this??

B) I just bought a dress that is made out of 10% cupro. Cupro??? Can I use said hand-wash method even though it is Dry Clean Only?

eva luna


A) some rayon can be machine washed and some needs hand-washing. I'm not sure what would fix the shrunk area.

B) What is the other 90% of the dress? I generally hand wash a lot of things that say dry-clean only, although silk makes me nervous, so I typically bring that to my lovely environmentally friendly cleaner


@eva luna It's 90% cotton, 10% cupro and it says Dry Clean Only. It's a lovely every day throw on dress that I will inevitably wear all the time and am horrified by the prospect of having to spend all that $$$ on dry cleaning.


@pumpkinrun I usually wash rayon in cold water and line dry (depending how delicate it is), then steam or use a low iron setting.


@pumpkinrun I think anything that's 90% cotton can probably be safely handwashed, but I have no idea what Cupro is. That said, really just dousing it in water and Eucalan or something is very very unlikely to destroy it.


A) This is highly unscientific, but maybe iron it and then tug at it a little to stretch it back out while it's warm? That's what I'd do.

B) No, don't take that to the dry cleaner. It'll be fine. Just don't put it in the dryer. If you want to be cautious, hand wash it.

Judith Slutler

@pumpkinrun I looked up cupro and it apparently is similar to rayon, that is, recycled cellulose: http://www.ecouterre.com/cupro-a-cellulose-fiber-made-from-recovered-cotton-waste/

Sounds like you should be fine washing it on the delicate cycle or handwashing it.

I tried on a cupro dress the other day and it really did drape as beautifully as the article says!


@pumpkinrun You can wash all rayon/viscose/cupro fabrics in cold water, gentle cycle; dry flat if possible, because they lose a lot of their tensile strength when wet and should be treated very gently when washing & drying. Never ever throw in the dryer, as they'll shrink. Otherwise, very nice fabrics that breathe, hold dye well, drape beautifully and are pretty hardy when dry.


@bashe No, you can't. Some of them, you can't even hand wash in cold water without effing them up. (Ask me how I know, etc.)


@spanglepants Really? I used to work in a costume shop and was under strict orders to wash all rayony stuff in cold water & line dry. It was a pain, but nothing bad ever happened. Sorry about your stuff -- what happened to it??


You will be very proud of me clean 'pinners.

I tackled my underwear drawer/bra collection and threw out 3/4 of a garbage bag of old crap.

Judith Slutler

@Jade Yes! I did my undie drawer (actually a cloth bag) last month and it was great.

However I now only own black boyshorts.


@Emmanuelle Cunt They are all you need.

Judith Slutler

@SarahP That's my thought on it, yeah.


@Jade I need to do that. I have so many old and unsupportive bras that only do bad things when I wear them that I should just chuck them all out.

Judith Slutler

@Scandyhoovian Basically I just decided that whenever I pulled a pair of undies out of my lingerie bag and thought "Ugh not those" I would just immediately toss them.


@Jade Ahhh! I did that too! Except I tackled my WHOLE CLOSET. I'm getting rid of about 100 items, including pairs of shoes. I'm very proud of both of us!


@Emmanuelle Cunt I should probably do this...I keep hanging on to the ratty ones as period underwear, but when over half my collection of underwear is period underwear, it's time to cull. (Also, the last time I bought a bunch of new underwear I apparently bought them a shade too small, so they dig in and I semi-consciously avoid wearing them. Boooooooo.)


@permanentbitchface I'm going to do some additional wardrobe culling in anticipation of my friends having a bbq+clothing swap this weekend. LOOOOVE clothing swaps. Free stuff!

Judith Slutler

@frigwiggin Yeah I mean, if you don't want to wear them today, you probably won't want to tomorrow, right? Just toss em the moment you see em.


@Emmanuelle Cunt oh hell to the yes on the boyshorts. Specifically the Pink! Boyshorts that have weird passive aggressivey messages on the butt. Those are my favourite.

Judith Slutler

Clean Personnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

I used one of those all-in-one dye packet things to redye my favorite black skirt as it was in that dreaded "too dark to pair with black, too light to pair with charcoal" zone. And omfg it is restored to sable perfection.

But now there seem to be some dye stains on the rubber seal inside my front-loading washer... and they rub off. I already ran the washer again with a load of all-black clothes (because I am a walking architect wardrobe stereotype and own tons of black) but the stains are still there.

Will I be good to wash brights & whites again if I rub the stains off using scrubbing bubbles and a sponge? that's what I'm currently attempting. I am very worried that if I miss a spot I might ruin my / someone else's clothes and my head could end up on a pike outside a Berlin apt. building as a grisly warning to all terrible flatmates who dare to dye their skirts in shared washing machines :(


@Emmanuelle Cunt Do they have magic erasers in Berlin??? Because those little fuckers solve everything.


@Emmanuelle Cunt Run the washing machine empty with the hottest water setting (the RIT website says to add a cup of bleach, but I never have bleach, so I dunno) first; that should get a lot of it off. Then scrub at what's left. If hot hot water and harsh scrubbing doesn't remove the dye, clothes shouldn't either.

Judith Slutler

@SarahP I was really hoping to avoid having to do an empty run, but I guess it's worth it for my beautiful skirt. sigh. I think I'll scrub it out first, but do the empty load just to be sure.

Judith Slutler

@Emmanuelle Cunt Also if I washed the skirt on the maximum allowed temperature after dyeing it, and added white vinegar to the load, and then washed it again with other black clothing and added vinegar again, the dye is probably set - right?

Spinach Party

@Emmanuelle Cunt Also I feel like running vinegar through an empty wash will help? Like running vinegar through a coffee pot every so often?

Judith Slutler

@Spinach Party Yeah I just set the washer to 95°C and dumped 2 cups of vinegar in there

Spinach Party

@Emmanuelle Cunt Whoops, didn't refresh and see your recent comment before I posted! I just did this yesterday because I completely forgot about a bunch of clothes in the dryer for a few days and they were not completely dry :-( :-( They got all musty and mildew-y. The vinegar worked wonders for that, at least- good luck!

Lily Rowan

I don't really understand why silk is so hard to deal with, given that people have been wearing silk clothing since before there were washing machines or dry cleaning. Is it because our machines and detergents and etc. are too powerful now?


@Lily Rowan I wonder whether some of it is the chemical dyes? When I've handwashed silk, I've been shocked by how it bleeds. The fabric itself held up well enough, but just wasn't colorfast at all.


@Lily Rowan Maybe it's because back in the day they didn't really wash fancy clothes, and just brushed them off and wore a lot of fancy undergarments so they didn't get sweaty (and also they didn't care as much about sweaty clothes then).

The Lady of Shalott

@datalass It's a little of both. Silk fabric in general is pretty hard-wearing when it comes to ordinary hand-washing--a little scrubbing, a little wringing, etc. But a washing machine is going to agitate the HELL out of fabrics in order to get the dirt out, and the spin cycle goes so fast that it can distort and warp fabric. Heavy-duty laundry solvents are also not always compatible with things like silk and delicate dyes. Dye is essentially just an on-purpose stain all over--not all dyes onto a material like silk can be expected to last against the double whammy of machine-washing and really powerful detergents.

@thebestjasmine This too! In upper-class Victorian homes, for example, gowns made of very expensive fabric like silk and velvet would be not worn directly against the skin, which means not as much dirt and sweat on them. For outer dirt, in many cases the dresses would be actually taken apart, washed as separate pieces, and then re-sewn back together after laundering and drying. (This is when having servants would come in handy.)

While old-school laundry detergents were not GENTLE by any means (LYE), and the process of scrubbing with washboards and such was not easy, it was substantially different from the way clothes are washed today.

Judith Slutler

@The Lady of Shalott

For outer dirt, in many cases the dresses would be actually taken apart, washed as separate pieces, and then re-sewn back together after laundering and drying.

Dang, that is amazing. It's always interesting to hear how people used to cope with owning fewer items.

I am in the process of whittling down my closet to just the basics, and it's really interesting how much that's involved spending more time caring for my things, especially as I am able to afford materials like silk & cashmere, and get into the habit of bringing my shoes to the cobbler, etc.

Lily Rowan

So interesting, y'all!


@The Lady of Shalott Can you write a thing about different kinds of fabrics and history and clothing and all kinds of neat old-timey stuff? Because I love history of clothing but am afraid if I try to read an actual book about it, the book will suck and I'll hate looking at pretty Elizabethan doublets etc.

The Lady of Shalott

@Xanthophyllippa Ah geez! Well, clothing history is one of my pet areas but not my area of specialty (First World War in Canada), but you are correct in that most of the "clothing history" books are incredibly boring and dry and written for historians and also INCREDIBLY crappy. But the history of clothing is so interesting! Like, did you know that people used to dress their babies, regardless of sex, in little dresses or dresses with drawstring-style bags at the bottom? This A) made it supereasy to change diapers, B) kept them from kicking off their stockings and kept their feetsies warm, C) allowed their babies to share clothing regardless of sex, and D) the bag-type bottom made it more difficult for them to squirm around on the floor and get underfoot/into trouble by keeping them less mobile. (Knowing babies, I would imagine that it made them more frustrated, possibly, but less likely to crawl into the fire during the 30 seconds Mom's back was turned while she was cutting open a squash/washing off Third Daughter's face/telling Second Son to go out and look in and make sure the goats weren't in the garden/fixing Mother-in-law a hot drink for her cold/throwing the slops to the pigs/etc.)


@The Lady of Shalott Ooo, see, I love this kind of stuff! I'd totally read a post that was full of some interesting facts about a couple articles of clothing. Like, "Six Weird Facts About Skirts," or some such.

I also have a ridiculous fondness for the First World War. My Great War class in college was one of my favorites.


One thing that has always infuriated me about the laundry care symbology is that the "line dry" image looks like a top-loading dryer, which is the kind of dryer I grew up with. So confusing!


I handwash a silk skirt I have all the time, and it doesn't seem to have suffered any. Maaaaaybe it's a bit less nice than when I bought it? I dunno, it's still all pretty and colorful and silk-y, so I don't worry too much.

Except be careful with handwashing! I handwashed a silk/cotton skirt the other day and accidentally left it too long, and now the white part of the skirt has a dye stain from the red part of the skirt and I'm so sad. :( I might try dying the whole white part red, or just...I dunno...fold the waistband under and belt it?

Judith Slutler

@frigwiggin Yeah tbh I took a black silk dress to a music festival and the weather was surprisingly good, so I ended up washing it with my gentle shampoo under the shower every morning and wearing it every day. It's less shiny after say... 10 washings than when I first bought it, but I like the softer look it has acquired, and it has no noticable stains!

On the other hand I did tragically destroy a secondhand silk tee with overzealous stain removal techniques - I put a half and half ethyl alcohol mixture on it to get rid of a grease stain, but that left a halo around the area I treated.

If anyone has an idea on how to get rid of that stain, I am all ears!


@frigwiggin I normally toss silk shirts straight into the washing machine (the ones that are solid color opaque and smooth, not ones that are tissue-thin and patterned), with a little vinegar in the rinse cycle to keep them shiny (thank you, commenter who mentioned that tip a while ago). They still look great when they emerge.

My thought is that if they make parachutes out of this stuff, it can handle a little washing.

@Emmanuelle Cunt I have no idea how to fix the stain, but I asked basically the same thing downthread - maybe some laundry genius can help us both.

Judith Slutler

@dinos Well. 50% ethyl alcohol, 50% water got rid of my grease stain, but I let it soak for too long I think and got too much of it on the fabric. So, use that, but don't make the mistake of soaking your garment too much I guess!


Also, is this the place where we talk about social enterprise/handmade-in-other-nations stuff? Because I still love my One Mango Tree skirt, and I also kinda want a pair of shorts from Punjammies despite the semi-stupid name. Buttttt sometimes it's hard to tell which organizations are actually beneficial to the people involved or if it's just marketing to appeal to a certain demographic of privileged Americans. Thoughts?


@frigwiggin I have just fallen in love with those shorts.


@frigwiggin I bought a pair of pajamas from Punjammies and I really like them. The only problem is that the sizes are UK sizes, which I didn't know until the pajamas arrived at my house.

However, the organization seems legit and the pajamas I got were definitely good quality.


@animaux2 I've found this site to be a really good resource for ethical clothing whatnot.

Faintly Macabre

While we're talking about washing things, I bought this dress a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I was a little too optimistic about the measurements, and the dress unwearably big. Since it has a drawstring, it would be hard to take in the sides, but I think shortening the straps (which would be pretty easy) would make it wearable. BUT I was also thinking of washing it in hot water. It says it's 100% linen, but the back half of the dress is a sort of stretch fabric/weave. Would hot water shrink it acceptably, do nothing, ruin it?

Judith Slutler

@Faintly Macabre No don't!!!

- that linen will turn to cardboard

- the stretch fabric and the linen will not shrink at the same rate, possibly leaving you with baggy seams

- for some reason, in my experience things tend to shrink more in the length than the width

do not!!!

Faintly Macabre

@Emmanuelle Cunt Haha, all right! I guess I'll just have to stop being lazy and shorten the straps, then. I wonder if the length/width shrinking thing has to do with the orientation of the fabric's weave?


Clean people, help me? I have an oil spot on the front of a silk dress, and my dry cleaner did not manage to remove it (nor did my handwashing with gentle detergent). I have Lestoil, but the label says specifically not to use it on silk or wool. How am I to save my dress?

Does Axl have a jack?

@dinos I totally did this to a silk skirt, and what worked (thanks to a 'Pinner's advice!) was laying it flat and putting some cornstarch on the spot, and leaving it overnight to soak up the grease. Then I put some blue Dawn detergent on the spot and handwashed it. It's perfect now!

Mlle Mlle

Not clean shoptalk here but all of me is wishing said burqa is in fact a hijab or a chador, or even a niqab. Burqas downright freak me out. I think it's the in-your-face invisibility of the dress. Mirror shades also me uncomfortable but at least while I can't see eyes, I can still recognize the wearer as human. I would just like to look you in the eyes, mammal to mammal :(

Munay Pillpa

@Mlle Mlle

Hi! Said burqa is actually an abaya, hijab, and niqab combo, but burqa just seemed easier for the email. The niqab part freaks me out as well. I would love to wear the rest of it if I were in a context abroad that called for it, but I'm not sure I could handle the face masking part.

Mlle Mlle

@Munay Pillpa ooh! Now I understand the interest in getting it clean rather than burning it with fire...I hope you get the chance to wear it abroad someday! I wish wearing non-western garb didn't feel like cultural appropriation (ick). I might dare wearing my beautiful indian suit outside the house. Hélas. Congrats on getting your bf back!!!


@Mlle Mlle As someone who has married into a family of women who wear face veils and has worn one before, these comments bother me. Some women from veiling cultures might have an issue with it and are dealing with it on their own terms. They don't need anyone else's help or pity. Other women like it and choose to wear it out of conviction. They aren't obligated to remove clothing to make other people comfortable. And if you have a problem seeing them as humans because of it, it is exactly that. Your problem.

Mlle Mlle

@Mooah I'm sorry my comments were offensive to you. I was trying to avoid falling into the trap of my own bigotry...and obviously failed. I want to clarify though. It's not that I don't see everyone as human. I honestly don't pity or want to "save" anyone who chooses to be entirely hidden when on the street. It does make me feel uneasy, like countless other aspects of living in a big city, but that's my problem and I wouldn't even want anyone to change to fit my worldview. The bottom line for me regarding this is that it is already difficult to engage with strangers (I still try to do this for some reason), it is even more difficult when you cannot even guess their reaction to you. I should have made this clearer and left out the fire (totally uncalled for).


Has anyone successfully removed bike grease from delicate fabric? I (unwisely) biked to an event in a floofy silk dress, and now the hem has a black, greasy imprint from my chain ring. I tried hand-washing the spot with dish soap but no luck.


@crocuta I got motor oil on a thin cotton scarf I had and what worked for me was putting a pile of dry baking soda over the stain and letting it soak up in there for a day or two. Then I took a toothbrush and some liquid detergent and cleaned up the residue gently. It was undetectable after that.
I'm not sure if that works after it's been washed, but it's worth a try!


Thank you so much for the hand washing advice. I remember when I first started hand washing some of my clothes I was googling for advice and a bunch of sites were full of comments like "How do you not know how to wash clothes? What happened to common sense? Young people are stupid!" and I was having a moral crisis.


JOLIE! My lovely new travel scarf smelled like throw-up after I stowed it under the seat on the airplane (and I did not throw up---- oooh boy) and it said "dry clean only".

I asked myself, "What would a Clean Person do?" And so I filled my lil basin with baking soda and mild detergent and followed these exact washing directions, and now my scarf smells like geraniums. Thanks for the inspiration! :D

Mariah Mantis@twitter

Jolie it's your fault that I bought a basin just for what I am calling "weird science" laundry (stuff that needs soaked in vinegar/oxyclean/baking soda/holy water/whatev). AND I LOVE IT!



... why the screaming?

(I went to Oxford. Term names: Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity. It is a bit ridiculous, admittedly, but I am fond of it all!)


@Verity I read it as screams of awesome. Michaelmas is a term not used enough, imo.


@Verity Jolie lives for that stuff! It was definitely a scream of awesome!
(Weird that I know this and haven't met her)


Please tell me I'm not the only one who saved the graphic. I had no idea what most of those symbols mean. I take a hazardous guess every time I do laundry.


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