Friday, 7 January 2011

Taking care of Goth clothes

Further to last post's (hopefully) ominous warning regarding winter weather and velvet; I thought I would continue in the same vein (vampire pun so intended) by lambasting you, my dearest readers, about how you SHOULD be taking care of your wardrobe.

Profusely bleeding on white, cream or ivory fabric is generally not recommended... unless you can make it look this cool.
Photo: Fuerst on Flickr
Source: Tumblr
Brand name Goth clothing is often far from cheap. Custom-made, handmade or vintage items are irreplaceable. So having just spent roughly a zillion pounds on your perfect dress, corset, pair of rubber trousers, etc., you may like to take steps to ensure they don't fall apart.

Let's begin with velvet. Polyester-mix velvets can go in the washing machine, but pure velvet, silk velvet or velveteen items should always be dry-cleaned, otherwise you'll ruin the pile. Don't get velvet wet unless it's a polyester mix! (If you're not sure what type of velvet your garment is, check the label.) You can purchase dry-cleaning spray reasonably cheaply as a budgetgoth alternative to the dry cleaner's. Once velvet becomes threadbare, unfortunately there's nothing that can be done.

How about rubber? To put on the item, cover yourself in a layer of talcum powder. There is no such thing as too much. This helps you to slip on the garment without ripping or tearing it, and also stops you getting all sweaty once you're in. If you then want your clothes to look shiny, you can polish the rubber. (This also helps remove any visible talc.) All you need for that is a bottle of the stuff people spray all over the inside of their cars to make them shiny. Spray this on the surface of your garment and gently wipe it away with a clean rag. Don't wipe the buffing substance entirely away, leave enough so that the garment gleams. It will feel a little slick to the touch.

As soon as you remove the garment, wash it in plain water. Do not use soap. To store rubber wear, you can either hang it over a cloth-covered hanger, or liberally powder it, fold it up and put it in a cardboard box. It is extremely important that the garment does not come into contact with any plastic - such as a plastic coat hanger - as that will cause it to rot.

The item should be powdered wherever it comes into contact with itself as latex-to-latex contact can lead to rubber-rot over time: liberal powdering can prevent that. If your rubber item splits, a piece of duct tape on the inside will hold it together if you desperately need to wear it. Oh, and don't do what I did and leave coins inside a rubber handbag - they turn a funny colour and start to smell a little odd.

Silks may be washed in a machine providing that the machine is free from soap and grease. Use your washing machine’s delicate cycle with garments unbuttoned. Only use mild detergents, never bleach or use bleaching agents, and wash dark colours separately. A lingerie bag, or old pillow case tied loosely at the open end, is recommended to stop the washing machine pulling the seam of the garment.

Steaming silks is a recommended method of removing wrinkles, or you could iron your silk garment on the reverse side of the fabric. A low to moderate steam setting may be used or the fabric may be pressed whilst still damp (dry setting: low to medium). Use an all cotton ironing board cover.

You may also hand-wash the garment in cool water. Use a small amount of mild detergent. Again, never bleach. Rinse well in cold water, and to retain the silk's natural lustre avoid soaking garments for more than 3 – 5 minutes. If machine drying, use only the low temperature gentle cycle. To dry naturally, lightly squeeze (do not wring) your silk and lay flat to dry. Shake your silk during drying and avoid full sunlight.
If dry-cleaning, tell the dry cleaner that your garment is made from 100% silk and must not be placed in a vat with jeans and other garments that could harm it. They may think you're a diva... but isn't that a good thing?

Wash satin in cold water by hand, or in a gentle cycle, with a mild detergent. If the garment is white, please use a colour safe bleach or you may end up with a yellow or gray item instead! It is best to hang the garment and let it dry naturally, as a dryer can cause it to shrink. Don't iron, unless you cover the item with a cotton pillow case for protection and iron over that on a low setting.

I'm sure that you have figured out that you should not fold a corset or boned bodice. If you need to squeeze it into a suitcase, just roll it up. And don't put it in the washing machine...

Be careful not to snag lace, cobweb knits, or other delicate fabrics. When washing or tumble-drying, put such items into a proper wash bag (the kind that ladies wash their bras in to stop the clasps catching on things) to minimise damage.

On reflection, it's surprising that leather is so popular in the Goth subculture, as it's advised that you keep sun block, hair spray, perfume and even flea spray far away from it. Most of these things have alcohol in, which can cause anything from colour loss to leather literally dissolving. Which means, uh, don't spill your absinthe on it either. If leather isn't dirty, you may just want to condition it once every couple of months to help protect it from the elements. You can find leather conditioning products online.

What kind of idiot writes a post about caring for Goth clothing and COMPLETELY FORGETS PVC and vinyl? Well, me, apparently. Thanks, MissGracie, for catching that one... To get technical, PVC is a layer of vinyl poured over a cotton-poly backing, and no, I can't remember what it stands for, but it's what most 'vinyl' clothing is made of.

Hand wash your PVC in warm water with a small amount of detergent (use liquid rather than soap flakes, as they can stick) and rinse in cool water. Hang to drip-dry inside out. When the inside is dry, turn the garment the right way round and allow the PVC side to dry. If necessary, polish with silicone spray (yes, the car stuff)If you don't fancy all that palaver and the garment is only slightly soiled, just Febreze the polyester inside and wipe the PVC outer clean with a damp sponge. Never put it in the dryer or use heat to speed up the drying process as heat will melt the PVC, causing dangerous fumes - oh, and ruining your clothing, of course.

If you get sick of your clothes squeaking on the dancefloor, wipe down the outer surface of your PVC clothes with a light layer of silicone-based lube. (The last word in that sentence makes me want to giggle, partly because I have apparently not reached maturity yet, and partly because I can't help imagining all the disappointed faces of people who have just searched 'PVC' and 'lube' and stumbled across this blog.)

What was I saying? Ah, yes. Different-coloured PVC garments, especially white, should be stored separately from each other, otherwise staining may occur. Acetone will also damage PVC, so keep marker pens and nailie remover well away. PVC can bond to garments containing cotton, and as such is best stored in a garment bag away from other clothing. Shit, I did not know that.
Listening to: Pyschomorph/We Feel Naked - Purple Fog Side


MissGracie said...

Is caring for vinyl clothing like caring for rubber? Particularly the bit about the talcum powder reducing the sweatiness factor.

ultimategothguide said...

I would assume so (although I will go to Google now and double-check before I finish typing this comment) although my vinyl stuff is lined so talc would just make a nasty mess.

Wait a second. Whilst Googling, I found some info about caring for vinyl and PVC clothing that I think needs to be added to this post. Bugger, I have been neglecting my PVC. There goes my holier-than-thou moment.

Thanks, MissGracie, for reminding me that rubber is not the only shiny thing that needs TLC.

ultimategothguide said...

Is it just me or does that last sentence sound a little... strange? >.<

The Green Fairy said...

Thanks for this post! I'm FAR from a domestic goddess and I had no idea about this kind of stuff, and I guess my ignorance just led me to believe that all fabrics can just be chucked in a bucket of water to soak :P

Gah I've been washing my velvet bolero in water! I have to run to check if it's a polyester hybrid thingo! Eeep!

T. Jade said...

My sister has a latex coffin purse and the face of it is beginning to pull off from wear and use, I was wondering if hot gluing it back together is a bad idea or not (as it is latex). Just thought you might have a suggestion.

Please and thank you =]

Amber said...

Is there any way to intentionally shrink PVC clothing? I have a pair of gloves that are a bit too big, and I'm wondering if washing them in hot water and line drying them would help any? Any advice would be wonderful and appreciated!

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