And Cashmere. And Silk. And things that say "Dry Clean Only". In fact, there is very little I won't wash. I've even plunked a couple of vintage gowns in the bathtub with soap. And the honest truth: I have never ruined anything. Really, though, almost everything is from Goodwill, so I wouldn't be out too much if I did ruin it. Which is why I embarked on machine washing my woolens to begin with.
Here is my most recent escapade. (Isn't my laundry room cute! I love to sit out there and read.) What you see are two brown wool sweaters- both from my local Goodwill- drying flat. First, I wait until I have enough super-delicate items to make up a small load. I set the water temp to warm/cold, and the water level higher than my load actually is- so if it's a small load, I do a medium water level. Then I add a bit less soap than I normally would. Once the load is washed, I put the silks, acetates, and other non-wools into the dryer with LOW heat and run it for short bursts (some of those synthetics get really hot!) I lay the woolens out flat to dry. And presto! No dry cleaning required.
I have my reasons for doing this. And It's not actually because of the green factor, although I'm sure some will tell you that dry cleaning chemicals are not good for the environment. Whatever, we have bigger problems. The reasons I do it are these:
1. It's cheap. I mean, If you pay three bucks for an all- wool imported sweater, would you pay someone to clean it? I wouldn't.
2. It's convenient. I get clothes dirty. Seriously, the sleeves get grubby and there are food spots down the front. If I had to run out to the cleaners every time my sweaters needed cleaning, I would be broke and naked, because my sweaters would all be at the cleaners.
So the message today is: don't be afraid to wash stuff. Your great-grandma washed all her wool, and she was just fine. If she had acetate, she would have washed that, too. You have my permission to be just as clean as she was.
(I love feltmaking, and the easiest way to make felt is to run an all- wool sweater thru the wash on hot with lots of soap. Ta daa! Shrunken, waterproofed, feltable felt. Great for crafting. But, not wearable.)
9 months ago