Fancy Fabrics on a hanger

Not all fabrics are created equal and sometimes fancy fabrics are beautiful, but harder to care for. The way a garment is constructed plays a major role in how it should be properly cleaned and maintained. Here are three extreme examples of higher maintenance clothing items and how to make them last longer and keep them looking their best.

Silk & Rayon

Silk and rayon are two widely used fibers in men’s and women’s apparel. In today’s markets, these fabrics can be seen in high-end designer wear, as well as casual wear. Both fibers may be dyed various colors, from the darkest black to brilliant reds, fuchsia, and yellow.

Follow the tips below to make sure your silk and rayon items retain their luster through the years.

  • Follow the care label on your silk and rayon garments. Don’t dry clean your “washable” silk and rayon garments, unless the care label specifies that dry cleaning also is acceptable.
  • Have all parts of an outfit cleaned at the same time to maintain a uniform appearance.
  • Never use bleach, it will permanently damage silk.
  • Allow perfume, deodorant, and hair spray to dry before dressing and remove spills from alcoholic beverages as quickly as possible. Alcohol can cause dye bleeding and discoloration.
  • Use caution with household products. Alkaline products such as facial soaps, shampoos, detergents, and even toothpastes can cause color loss or change on silk. If contact occurs, talk to your dry cleaner promptly about the possibility of restoration.

Store your garments in closets or away from light sources. Most colors used on silk and rayon fabrics can eventually fade from such exposure. Natural light and electric lights are equal color killers.


Neckties are both a fashion statement for men and a problem for cleaners. The fabric used for ties is cut diagonally to the weave, or “on the bias,” so it makes a neat knot when worn around the neck.

Unfortunately, this type of cut is easily distorted or stretched, causing puckering and fullness. In many instances, sizing or finishes are used during manufacturing to stabilize fabrics. If the finish is removed in cleaning, the fabric will lose its shape and stability. In the case of ties, this makes it nearly impossible to return the necktie to a wearable condition.

Sometimes a tie doubles as a bib and collects a variety of stains. Most tie stains require water to remove them. In many cases, the dyes are also affected by water, leading to problems when it comes time to tackle a tough stain. Attempts to remove the stains will likely disturb the dyes.

To find out more about the proper care and cleaning of ties see our post “How to Care For Ties

Metallic Fabrics

Silver and gold metallic fabrics are popular in women’s attire. Metallic fabric is made by spraying a metallic finish on the surface of a cloth fabric. Many of these surface finishes have limited resistance to care procedures and wear. The metallic finish may be removed or corroded and discolored around the neck and underarm area from the effects of perspiration and body contact. Since the fabrics are often very sheer, they are easily snagged or abraded by jewelry or rough edges of furniture.

It is important to have this type of garment cleaned immediately after wearing, so stains and soils can be removed before they begin to react adversely with the surface finish. Over time the extended effects of fruit juice acids, soft drinks, and mixed drinks can cause a discoloring or bleaching effect on some of the metallic coatings.

Although most of these items carry “dry clean only” labels, some cleaners have found that the surfaces of the silver and gold finishes may lose their color in dry cleaning. Dry cleaning these materials for only a few minutes is sometimes enough to considerably fade or dull the colors of some metallic items. If this occurs, you should return the item to the retailer.


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