How to Properly Launder Your Lilly

You shelled out $300 for a gorgeous dress, $158 for a silk top, and $70 per pair of shorts, 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 Lilly & other 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 favorite Lilly Ladies, and gotten their perspective on these issues, so check out what they had to say as well!

Explore some of my other Lilly Pulitzer Posts:
Lilly Pulitzer Shorts Collection Part 1
2018 After Party Sale Tips & FAQ
Handmade Lilly Pulitzer Items
How to Mix Lilly Pulitzer Prints
Lilly Pulitzer at Grand Hotel Mackinac Island
How I Organize My Lilly Closet
Neon Lilly Pulitzer Skirt and Heels
Lilly Pulitzer Scallop Skirt
New Lilly Pulitzer Store Troy, MI
Lilly Pulitzer Trunk Show

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.

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 Lilly:
Cynthia A.:I wash baby Lilly 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 Elsa 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 Elsa’s. 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 Lilly ladies agree that dry cleaning any silk items, including Elsas, 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, like Scuba to Cuba, having color run issues. I wash all my shorts, tops, and shirt type dresses ( Essie, Palmetto, etc) 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 (like Going Coastal), I always wash before I wear. Cold water, gentle cycle with two Shout Color Catchers for all Lilly laundry. I use Tide Pods as my detergent. I always hang my Lilly dresses and Popovers up 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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Leave a Comment

    • 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!

  1. 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.