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Badass Ways to Keep Your Handloom Sarees Good as New - Part 1

H ow to keep your handloom sarees good as new? is it possible to keep one? Well, reading the title of the articles, you might be thinking it is yet another tip based topic which lay down some general guideline as usual - however, this time during the pandemic I have been reading many articles, read out few conversations with my patrons and their concern about how to keep the sarees as good as new. It was always the handloom sarees which has raised an alarm. So I thought to pen down what I have collected over the time. 

We simply love our sarees - don't we? And when we talk of handloom sarees there are so many Kancheepuram, Banarasi, Tussar, Ikat, Patola, South Indian silks, Kalamkaris, Berhampuri, Gadwal, Baluchari, Jamdani all are the crown jewels of Indian ethnic wear. They are often a family heirloom and both a heavy financial and emotional investment. Their gorgeous, ornate designs and embellishments can transform you from simple to an elegant, ethnic diva in a jiffy. 

After all, these sarees of handloom types are generally those which we inherit from our mothers. So just not the sarees there are eminent tips which our mothers passes down to us. We might remember some of them, and some may not. However, in today’s busy life we always look for the easiest way to do a task and the task of maintaining our sarees is no less different. That’s why we thought we share some easy tips with you to maintain your sarees.

Why we ask to take care of the handloom sarees to such a great extent?

- Handloom sarees required a great deal of attention and care as they are extremely delicate. These sarees are easily susceptible to environmental corrosion, staining and wear & tear and maintaining them can be quite tricky.

It is always preferable to give it to professional and trusted dry cleaners for wash. This means that you may have to pay more, but it is worthy of every handloom saree. But if you cannot have your saree dry cleaned, then you must take matters into your own hands, literally.

If you want to care the handloom sarees all by yourself - follow these expert tips to care of your handloom sarees and avoid the common laundry mistakes that may damage them permanently.

How to Wash a Handloom Saree?

Well, the step by step guide of my begins here. Follow them to get your sarees washed with perfection.

1.
Do not put your sarees directly into the detergent liquid and water. Keep them soaked in the salt water for some time. Do not keep them soaked overnight or for more than hour or so, else it might lead to discoloration.

2. After soaking, rinse with cold water 2-3 times before proceeding to wash with a detergent.

3. Make sure to invest in good quality, mild detergents from reputed brands to hand wash your sarees.

4. Never use dyes, bleach, harsh stain removers on delicate fabrics. Don’t let the soap stay on the garment for long. Wash it off quickly Try not to bundle up the saree while washing it because it may lead to creasing.

5. Do not use a brush, even for stains, as it can easily tear the fabric. Instead use cold water. Remember, handloom sarees are very delicate so NEVER use hot water to wash your sarees and don't even touch the washing machine to wash your sarees too.

TIPS FOR WASHING COTTON HANDLOOMS

a. Avoid wringing the saree as that can crease it.

b. Just drain off the excess water by hanging it.

c. Avoid direct sunlight to dry your cotton handloom saree.

d. Try not to use a washing machine as those are very delicate.

e. You can get the best wash done if you use a bit of starch, but make sure you dry it immediately after starching.

f. After you use a steam iron, store it in a cool and dry place.

TIPS FOR WASHING SILK HANDLOOMS

1. Never hand wash or machine wash handloom silk sarees. Go for dry cleaning by professionals.

2. If there is a stain, use water to wash it off immediately.


 A walkthrough of kalamkari art on the handloom masterpieces

How to Remove Stains from Handloom Sarees

Say something accidental might haven happened and you got few stains on your lovely handloom saree. In such an instance, your sarees require immediate attention.

A. If it’s an oily stain, say from food, sprinkle talcum powder on it and wait till it soaks in the oiliness.

B. Now rub it gently and wash it off.

C. For stains that are made out of beverages or gravy stains, dip a cotton ball in pure petrol and wipe it off.

D. For tougher stains, it is advisable to take it to a dry cleaner for a more professional wash.

E. For mild stains you need to wash off the stains immediately with cold water.

F. For stains (like curry drop, ketchup, turmeric etc.) on white sarees, simply wet the stained area and then dab some thick coat of white toothpaste on both the side of the fabric. After it dries off completely, wash off the toothpaste. If a lighter stain still remains, you can repeat the same process.

G. For lipstick stains, use a white tissue paper with the stain side down. Use a plain white cotton cloth to dab some mild soap and leave it for 10-15 minutes. Press a wet clean white cloth on the area so that the lipstick stain and soap gets easily transferred to the tissue paper. Be careful to remove the tissue paper as soon as you are done, so that the stain from tissue paper doesn’t get transferred to the other side of the saree.

How to Dry a Handloom Saree

Drying a handloom saree post wash takes much time and patience. So what are the step that you need to follow -

1. Avoid direct sunlight when drying a handloom saree as it might lead to fabric discoloration.
2. Dry it in partial shade.
3. Never wring the saree to squeeze out the water to avoid permanent creases.
4. Wrap the saree in a clean, absorbent, light colored tissue or towel and press it gently.
5. Spread it out flat on a neutral surface to dry.
6. Avoid painted surfaces, window sills, fences or rusty clothes racks as they may stain the fabric.
7. Always dry your handloom sarees separately. Garments with bleeding colors may damage its fabric.

How to Iron a Handloom Saree

Here are the saree maintaining tips post washing and drying - these are one of the best ideas to iron your handloom sarees and keep them as good as new.

1. Always press your sarees keeping the iron in medium to low heat.

2. Never spray water on the saree before ironing as it may leave permanent marks on the fabric.

3.  Always keep the garment on an ironing board or a cotton cloth before pressing to avoid creases.

4. If you are ironing linen sarees keep it a bit wet.

SPECIAL TIPS TO IRON A COTTON HANDLOOM SAREE

a. Cotton sarees need to be always steam ironed as per the correct temperature setting meant for cotton.

SPECIAL TIPS TO IRON A SILK HANDLOOM SAREE

a. Always iron silk sarees in low or medium heat. The best is to follow temperature setting meant for silk as per instruction on your iron.

How to Store a Handloom Saree

Preserving a handloom saree depends a lot on how you store it. Yes, it is necessary to identify the best place to store them, the possible aids to store them along with and necessary precautions to be taken. 

1. Always ensure your saree is absolutely dry before storing it. As moisture can damage the fabric.

2. Keep any handloom saree wrapped in a Muslin cloth or pure cotton cloth which lets the air to pass through but protects the saree from moisture.

3. Store the saree in a dark and dry place to avoid fading of the fabric.

4. Store it in a vertical, hanging position in your cupboard but refrain from using metal hangers as they can leave rust stains on the fabric.

5. Keep the handloom saree away from your regular clothes, preferably in a long-term storage spot since it’s for special occasions and regular handling can leave unwanted spots on it.

6. Keep neem leaves in between the saree folds to preserve them from pests.

7. From time to time, change the saree folds to avoid creases that can wear and tear the fabric

Author Bio

Sumana Bhattacharya completed her Masters in Economics from the University of Calcutta & was working with the Department of Education, Govt. of West Bengal to provide training to the teachers in Government Schools. She moved to USA in 2005 after getting married & is the mother of 2 kids. She is the one that drives IndyVogue every day, every hour, every minute and every second. Salute to her and her undying spirit.

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