Washing lace

How to care for lace

Lace is a delicate fabric, here is our care guide

Read our advice on how to care for your lace garments and keep it in top condition for longer. Always check the care label before washing.
 
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Hand washing delicate lace garments such as underwear

1. Fill a clean bowl/sink with hand-warm water and put in the correct amount of gentle washing detergent that is designed for delicate fabrics
2. Place the garment into the water and use a gentle swishing action.
3. Do several rinses of tepid water – until the water is clear.
4. Gently squeeze any excess water out of the garment.
5. Dry flat on a towel.
 

Machine washing lace garments

When washing lace items in the washing machine, always place the garments in a ‘delicates’ wash bag use a gentle and cool wash cycle. Ensure you use a detergent that is designed for delicate fabrics.
 
Note: Lace tights and stockings can lose some of their colour when they are washed. To avoid the dye transferring to other garments, always wash them separately.
 

Ironing lace

Try to avoid ironing lace if possible by using one of these methods:
For larger items, tack the item onto a white cotton sheet using white thread. Lay this on a flat surface and gently stretch the backing fabric to ensure the lace dries in the correct shape.
For small/medium sized items, place the item onto a towel and gently pull it into shape. Leave to air dry on a flat surface. Use pins to hold the lace in place if necessary.
Wrap a length of narrow lace around a clean glass jar and pin to secure until dry.
 
If the lace does need ironing it is best done whilst slightly damp. To avoid squashing the pattern, place the lace right side down onto a thick towel. Put a fine fabric such as cotton muslin between the lace and the iron and gently press using a warm (not hot) iron temperature.
 
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Caring for old lace

Store wrapped in acid free tissue paper in a clean and dry environment. Keep away from sunlight and insects such as clothes moths. Keep it folded properly to ensure it does not lose its shape.
 

Hand washing old lace

Inspect the item thoroughly to ensure that it will withstand being cleaned. If it is frail and tears easily, either leave it as is or have it professionally cleaned.
 
If the lace is attached to a garment, you will need to assess the cleaning requirements of the garment fabric as well as that of the lace before washing. You might be able to carefully spot clean the lace. Talk to a specialist dry cleaner if you are unsure.
 
1. Fill a clean bowl/sink with hand-warm water and put in the correct amount of gentle detergent that is designed for delicate fabrics.
2. Put the item into the water and let it soak until the water has cooled. Note: Wet lace is more fragile than dry lace, so do not agitate or swish it around in the water as this may cause damage. You should be able to dislodge any dirt by very gently moving the lace in the water.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 again if the lace does not look clean.
4. Rinse the lace in tepid water until the water is clear.
5. To dry, gently roll it in a clean/dry towel. Place the lace flat on another clean/dry towel and gently pull it into shape, so that it can dry correctly. If it is a large item it can be tacked onto a backing fabric before it is washed, as described above.
 

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Stiffening lace

Good quality lace should not need stiffening, but some lace items such as tablecloths are better when they are stiffened. You can use bought packet starch mixed into a solution with water to stiffen lace – follow the packet instructions. The starch solution will wash out in warm soapy water.
 
To use the stiffener:
Wet the lace in warm water. Then add the lace to the starch solution and gently stir. Leave it in the solution until it is thoroughly soaked. Remove from the solution and let the excess drip off.
Position the lace on a towel on a flat surface, gently pulling it into shape. Use pins to secure the edges so that it dries in the correct shape. Allow to dry completely.
 
Top Tip: Do not stiffen lace curtains, as the effect of the sun combined with the stiffener can cause the lace to rot.