The tag says, ‘Dry Clean Only’.
Clearly, what you have purchased is a delicate, exclusive, gorgeous saree. Let me guess, it is a handloom, right?
And now the predicament. How best to look after your handloom saree that it looks as good as new each time?
Handloom sarees especially the heirloom-quality, Paithini, Kanjeevaram, Patola, Chanderi, Pat Silk, Kalamkari or the alluring Banarasi, need to be taken care of with utmost love and tenderness.
Pat Silk of Assam
One wedding you attend, and that oil stain on the palla gives you a heart ache. Or keeping the divine Chanderi in folds over longer periods of time, sees it mercilessly tearing along the lines. Of course, the easiest way to undo the damage is to send it promptly to the dry cleaner. However, have you wondered what did our mothers and grandmothers do in the absence of such luxury? And how despite not having the option of a dry clean, their sarees have remained intact for decades-as good as new?
Home Remedies to Keep your Handloom Sarees Intact
When we have our saree customers at the ‘Experience Centre’, we more often than not chat endlessly about but of course, sarees! The other afternoon, entered an extremely polished elderly lady with salt and pepper hair. We got talking- about types of sarees and some of our exclusive collection of weaves. Her eyes fell on our tag that said, ‘Dry Clean Only.’
The Dry-Clean Only Tag
She almost smirked and said, why dry clean? These sarees cannot be handed over to a man who shall wring it in all directions and stuff your precious saree into a roaring machine only to put it through so much steam that it would lose its luster.
She made dry cleaning sound a horrifying experience.
On serious note on anonymity, she discussed and shared in detail how she personally looks after her invaluable 6 yards. Sharing the same with you today.
Soap nut water is best for washing handloom sarees
How to wash a handloom saree
Yes, you read that right. Wash your handloom saree! Don’t you worry, our grandmothers did this on a daily basis. Here are the simple steps to it.
- Soak the handwoven saree in salt water for a while. Read again. Just for a little while. Do not forget it overnight. You do not want the colours to bleed and fade while you sleep.
- Rinse it a couple of times in cold water
- Use a mild detergent to hand wash the handmade saree. Stay away from advertised products that promise removing stains
- The same rule applies to washing a handwoven saree by an artisan as does the rule to shampooing your hair. ‘More important than applying soap to the hair, is to ensure you remove it properly.’
- Also, the soap needs to be washed off almost immediately
- Use only cold water
Wash Handloom Sarees in Cold Water
'Wash the Saree, the Pallu and the Border
of Your Saree Separately'
- Use a brush
- Hot water to wash the silk or cotton silk handloom saree
- Bundle it up like a towel
- Wash the handwoven sarees in a washing machine
But what if you get an ugly stain of a spilled cold drink or an oily curry on your saree?
In the advent of such an accident the word is ACTION. Immediate action.
How to remove stains from a handloom saree
- If it is a cold drink or a curry stain rush to the parking area, dip your handkerchief into the petrol box and wipe off the stain! Of course, I am only half joking. You do not run to the parking area, but yes petrol acts like magic.
- If petrol is not in hand, then for food stains, the good old talcum powder comes to the rescue. Dab it not on the face but on the stain, let powder soak the oil and then simply wash it off gently.
I asked the lady, what if the ‘daag is ziddi ’ (What if it is a tough stain)? She laughed and replied, “Then my dear, you take it to the dry cleaner!”
Now that the saree is washed it needs to be dried and that process is as important as the first one.
How to Dry a Handloom Saree After Wash
You get into this only if you have been endowed with qualities like patience. This takes time.
- Always dry your precious handloom sarees in partial shade
- Do not go by the telly ads that show ladies squeeze their sarees. You wring them, you destroy them
- Unlike what we have been doing for years, we need to dry the sarees on a flat surface. Ideally wrapped in an absorbent towel or thin mul fabric kept aside specifically for this
- One of the most pertinent points as any elderly in the family shall also reiterate is not to mix the handwoven sarees made with love by the Indian artisan with any other saree or fabric. Even if one of them bleeds, your other fabrics shall be ruined
Keep Your Handloom Sarees in a Separate Shelf
How to Iron a Handloom Saree
Frankly, if you are a regular saree person then you should have by now invested in a steam press.
- If you haven't then remember to always press your sarees keeping the iron in medium to low heat.
- Never spray water on it before ironing as it may leave permanent marks on the fabric
- Keep the saree on an ironing board or a cotton cloth before pressing to avoid creases
The lady at the store was more than helpful with all the information and I cannot thank her enough. Of course, she was treated with our signature freshly brewed Mysore coffee as she looked around our saree spread.
All in all a good day. I like such walk-in customers who leave as friends.
Meanwhile, preserving your precious handloom Kanjeevaram or Chanderi needs another blog post. You could read about the same here.
Till the next post!#sareewaali