Weavers Workshop: Keeping Cloth Clean at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is coming up and if you’re a weaver hosting dinner chances are your handweaving will play a part in the big day. Whether they grace your table or your outfit, there’s a chance they might get dirty. Here are some tips for keeping your handwoven cloth clean.

1. Most cotton, hemp, and linen items can be washed in the washing machine. Just make sure if this is your first time using your handwoven napkins that you test to make sure the colors are fast before throwing them in the wash with Great Aunt Elsie’s white tablecloth. If you’re still worried consider using a “color catcher” in the washing machine to help prevent bleeding.

2. Get a stain on your beautiful silk scarf? Try spot treating it first with cool water to get out as much of the stain as you can. Then handwash in lukewarm water using a gentle nonalkaline soap. Many weavers, and the folks swear by Orvus Paste, a horse shampoo. You can find this soap at farm supply and feed stores as well as online. Don’t harshly scrub the silk, be gentle and use either your fingers or a soft sponge (not a brush). Air dry and repeat as necessary and gently iron on low once the stain is out.

Keeping Your Handwoven Cloth Clean

Keeping Your Handwoven Cloth Clean

3. If washing in the washing machine, bamboo and Tencel should always be washed in cold water and never use bleach (chlorine or oxygen) or fabric softeners. These won’t hurt the fabric, but can ruin the dye job.

4. Did you cut your finger while prepping dinner and get a bit of blood on your table runner? Master weaver and textile care expert Laura Fry recommends using a bit of your own saliva to treat the blood stain. The enzymes should help break down the stain so you can wash it away. For treating any sort of stain with anything harsher than saliva, always do a small test first in an inconspicuous part of the textile to make sure there’s no discoloration—that goes for store-bought products as well as lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide.

5. Is your silk scarf stiff after pressing? The folks at Treenway Silks recommend gently whacking it against the soft part of your ironing board to get it drape-ably silky again.

We hope you these tips help you keep your handwovens looking as new and we especially hope that you have a very happy Thanksgiving!

—Christina Garton