Prada Tokyo Flagship Store Tokyo, Japan: The Official Travel Guide Photographed, Researched, and Written by Annie Fairfax What to Do in Japan, Where to Eat in Tokyo, What to do in Tokyo, Things to Do in Tokyo, Tokyo Tourism, Places to Stay in Tokyo Tokyo Luxury Travel

How to Properly Launder Delicates

You shelled out for a gorgeous dress, a silk top, and other items, are you really going to throw your beautiful clothing in the washer and “hope for the best”?! Of course not! Here’s the down and dirty on getting your dirty clothing bright and clean again. Dry cleaning everything may seem like the safest choice, but really you can do all of you laundry at home and save yourself some money!

I’ve enlisted the help of some of my readers, and gotten their perspective on these issues, so check out what they had to say as well!

Pro Tip: If you take anything expensive to a dry cleaner, be sure they know what they’re doing & have a good reputation. I’ve seen silk tops ruined, wedding dresses destroyed and much more by incompetent cleaners. Also, ask what their policy is in the event that your items are damaged in their care prior to handing them over. They should be willing to cover the cost of replacing the item, at the very least. If they say nothing, or that never happens, you should be wary.

Prada Tokyo Flagship Store Tokyo, Japan: The Official Travel Guide Photographed, Researched, and Written by Annie Fairfax What to Do in Japan, Where to Eat in Tokyo, What to do in Tokyo, Things to Do in Tokyo, Tokyo Tourism, Places to Stay in Tokyo Tokyo Luxury Travel

Above: Prada Flagship Store in Tokyo, Japan

Dos & Don’ts

Wash items inside out to prevent pilling.
Wash in cool water to prevent shrinking and color run.
Use gentle detergents, such as Woolite, to prevent damaging delicate pieces.
Air dry as much as possible! Tossing items in the dryer could cause them to shrink
Lay items flat on a towel when drying to prevent them from losing their shape
Need to remove excess water from something? Lay it flat on a towel and roll the item up in the towel. This will help to remove excess water without damaging it.
– Always use a color catcher (or several) when washing bright colors, especially if they have lots of white in the pattern. This will help prevent color bleeding
-Wear a tighter v-neck tee in white or light grey underneath elsas or blouses on days when you may sweat more, this will help prevent sweat stains on silk items!

Never ring items to get water out, they will lose their shape and could get stretched out or tear.
Wash lights & darks together, the darker colors can rinse into the lighter colors and change their color!
-Put cashmere, sweaters, or items vulnerable to shrinking in the dryer! If you’re unsure, lay flat to dry!
-Hang wet, heavy items like popovers or Shep Shirts. You will stretch out the shoulders. Lay them flat to dry instead.


Baby Clothing:
Cynthia A.:I wash baby clothing in cold water gentle cycle with Baby detergent too!

Everyone agrees, these items should always be dry cleaned by a trusted professional!

Lauren J. States: “I wash my silk blouses in cold water on delicate cycle with lady detergent from the laundress. Then I hang dry. I wash my dresses this way, too.

Elsa Tops:
Elizabeth L Says: “I dry clean my silk tops. My very first one i got 4 years ago. It had food stains, sweat stains, and it just looked BAD. I took it to the cleaners and it looks brand new. My cleaner only charged me $2. Definitely worth it.

Other ladies agree that dry cleaning any silk items, including blouses, at a reputable cleaners is the preferred course of action!

Brittany D. Recommends: “I wash my popovers on gentle with wool light and let them air dry.”

Debbie M. Says: “If I have worn an undershirt and only had the item on for a few hours (such as a popover) I skip a wash (or sometimes two!) because washing, even carefully, can age clothing, and the popovers seem especially subject to pilling.  I use laundry bags for anything that has some delicate features that could be harmed by the agitation. I sort into Whites, Brights, Lights, and Darks. I wash each of those loads on cold water, delicate cycle, with a liquid detergent. 

Shorts, Skirts & Skorts:
I wash like colors and patterns together, inside out, on cold with gentle detergent, unless it’s the first wash. If it’s the first time washing something, wash it alone, or by hand in a sink with cool water to ensure colors don’t bleed! If the items are a bit lose I will dry them on ‘gentle’ (read: not high heat), and if not I hang them to dry or toss them over a drying rack since these items tend to be made of sturdy cotton.

General Tips:
Elizabeth S. aka @colorfulvacation:”For the first time, I wash [everything] alone. After that, I’d wash similar prints together or with like colors only.

Kirby M-W Says: “I have heard a lot of stories about prints that are heavy with white, having color run issues. I wash all my shorts, tops, and shirt type dresses in cold water on delicate cycle and hang to dry.

Carrie S. Recommends: “I dry clean anything silk. Everything else, I was on delicate with a cap of Wolite, 1/4 cup of vinegar, and a tide color catcher. I lay everything flat to dry.

Lesley B. aka @LBBohoPrep: “All silk to the dry cleaner. Everything else I was on cold with color catchers and similar colors and then hang or lay flat to dry.

Lindsay L. aka @LifeofLindsay: “Wash [items] alone. If it’s an article of clothing with dark and light colors, I always wash before I wear. Cold water, gentle cycle with two Shout Color Catchers for all delicate laundry. I use Tide Pods as my detergent. I always hang my dresses to air dry. I dry all my shorts in the dryer on low heat. I’ve never had an issue with color bleeding or shrinkage.”

Stain Removal:
Emily W. aka @emwarrrr “Mix a table spoon of each of baking soda, Mortons salt, and hydrogen peroxide. Mix into a paste and rub into the fabric where the spot is. It might take two times but it makes such a difference. Also, safe on colors!”

What are your best laundry tips? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll add them to the list!

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  1. The most helpful post out there (: Thanks for saving my Lilly and time ?

  2. Anonymous says:

    My Lilly dress has a chemical smell after washing first time. Any ideas?

    1. That’s unusual. Which dress style is it? Did it smell odd before washing? May I ask how you washed it (which detergent you used, hot or cold, delicate, etc.)? I wonder if the dye reacted to the detergent you used. Did the garment change colors at all, fade, or did the colors bleed? Hopefully we can figure it out! Whenever clothing smells oddly after washing, I usually soak it in white vinegar and rewash with cold water, or put it in a ziplock bag with dryer sheets and place it in the freezer for a few days. I’d hesitate to recommend those though, if there was some sort of chemical reaction occurring. Once I know more about how it might have happened I will be able to better recommend a solution!

  3. I have 2 Philomena maxi dress.100% rayon. I’m getting tired of paying for them to get dry cleaned. Has anyone tried washing them either by hand or in the delicate cycle? They just fit so I don’t want to take a chance of them shrinking.

  4. My Lily dress says hand wash in cold water. I did that and the pink bleed?

    1. Jessica Malinowski says:

      I’d be so upset! I’m sorry that happened to you. Maybe try washing again with color catchers?

  5. Jessica Malinowski says:

    I’ve never dried my lilly. Great info and tips.

    1. ann oliver says:

      why do lilly pulitzer bright pink clothes have to be washed before wearing according to tag

      1. Hi Jessica,

        Great question! From my understanding, it’s to wash away excess dye to prevent it from rubbing onto your skin or other clothing. Since their clothing is often overdyed, this prevents damage to other items you wear those pieces with. I hope this helps!

  6. I have a Lily 100% Pima cotton t shirt that is too large. Is there a safe way to shrink it?

    1. Hi Maureen, I have shrunk shirts before, but popping them in the dryer in 3-5 minute intervals. If you’re not comfortable doing that (I can’t guarantee it will work as I’ve never tried it with that type of shirt), join my Lilly Pulitzer FB group and see if you can find a trade! There are nearly 40,000 members, so I think you’ll be able to find a trade, or sell your top and buy one in the correct size. I hope this helps!


      1. Maureen Welch says:

        Thank you, Annie! I will try both the dryer and the site to trade.