How to Clean Velveteen

Dear Home-Ec 101,
I’m making my husband a velveteen cloak for Halloween, and it’s already got cat hair all over it just from measuring and cutting the fabric. Can I throw it in the washing machine, or does it have to be dry cleaned?
Signed,
Hairy in Hailey

how to clean velveteen

Heather says:

Lint BrushDo not throw your velveteen material in the washer.

Velveteen, whether made from cotton or synthetic fibers is a very persnickety material. Due to the manufacturing process it isn’t very colorfast (the dye will often bleed with normal use) AND the pile -the velvety side is very easily damaged.

To get rid of the cat hair get yourself a lint brush and brush only in the direction that the material feels smooth. This is referred to as “with the nap.”

If you have stains or dirt to remove from the velveteen, take it to a professional dry cleaner. In a pinch, you can spot clean a velveteen article with a solvent cleaner like what you would find in the Dryel or Woolite home dry cleaning kits, but be very careful. Spot test the solvent first and follow the manufacturer’s directions to the letter.

Hang your velveteen, do not throw it on the floor or fold it.

If your velveteen material becomes wrinkled, do not iron it.

You can steam it carefully to remove the wrinkles, but you have to use an exceptionally light hand to avoid crushing and permanently damaging the fabric. If you must press your husband’s cloak before this weekend, cover your ironing board with another piece of velveteen. (I’m assuming you do not have access to a needle board) Make sure that the fabric covering your ironing board is pile side up. Place the piece you would like to press pile side down.

how to launder unusual items

Click the picture for more tips!

You can only press velveteen from the wrong side, the other piece of fabric will help keep you from crushing the pile of the fabric. Use the lowest steam temperature possible and try not to actually touch the fabric.

Good luck!

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.



10 Comments

  1. Kate S. on October 26, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    These instructions seem excessively complicated for Velveteen care . . . in fact, they seem to be geared more toward full-pile Velvet than Velveteen, which can be crushed, but usually wont be damaged in the least by a trip through the washing machine.

    • HeatherSolos on October 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm

      @Kate S. without having full information on the type she purchased I had to go with care instructions for the most delicate varieties. Assuming the original submitter was only concerned about cat hair, a lint brush is perfectly adequate.

  2. KeterMagick on October 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    For just removing lint and cat hair, I would suggest using a sticky-type lint roller or, if you don’t have one, take some tape (any kind that has good sticky that doesn’t come off easily) and wrap it around your hand with the sticky side out, then run that over the fabric. You’ll get tired of changing the tape, but nothing works better. I have a red napped lint remover like shown in the picture, and which it’s a lot “greener”, it also doesn’t work as well.

    Now for what I know about velveteen. ;o)

    There’s a difference between velvet and velveteen, and not even fabric stores always get it right. Velvet is typically very difficult to keep clean, and even more difficult to get clean. Velveteen is its country cousin, in that it looks like velvet (usually crushed velvet), but usually can play in the dirt and scrub up nicely. To make matters even more confusing, there are several different grades of velveteen, some of which are almost as delicate as velvet, and others vary from extremely soft and wearable material to durable upholstery fabric. For example, I have a velveteen robe for daily use in winter, a matching skirt and top that are sort of mid-weight, and a costume cape made of upholstery weight velveteen that weighs about 10 lbs and shrugs off rain – and all wash and dry quite happily. With the exception of some velveteen made with an acetate (plactic-y) backing, most synthetic velveteen, particularly the less expensive type used for costuming, tends to be washable and dryable.

    You can look at the bolt the fabric came on and see if there’s a label on there. Sometimes there’s even washing instructions. If you don’t have the bolt, you may want to go back to the fabric store and find it to determine the fiber content. But for the really definitive test, you can take a scrap of leftover fabric and toss it into a bowl with some water and dish soap. If after a couple of hours, the color hasn’t bled excessively such that the color of the scrap has faded, try washing and drying it with some similarly colored towels or blankets (it probably will throw off fibers – you want to wash it with something that won’t care)….that will tell you if the piece can be washed and dried. Caveat: cheap velveteen is often “overdyed” to make it feel thicker and heavier. When the excess dye is removed, the weight of the fabric may change. Watch for this with the scrap and decide if you can live with the change.

    • KeterMagick on October 26, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      P.S. – I’m still giggling over the Velveteen Rabbit joke from Twitter.

    • HeatherSolos on October 26, 2011 at 2:15 pm

      @KeterMagick As I mentioned in response to the comment above, I defaulted to the safest option out there. The last thing I want is for her to finish the cloak and destroy it the night before she needs it. 🙂 My assumption (and yes, we all know what happens when we assume) is that the reader probably didn’t research the fabric (heck, I probably wouldn’t have) just grabbed something and went with it, winging it, just wanting to get the project done in time.

      I’ve got three costumes to pull together this weekend and I am not looking forward to it.

      Anyone have any ideas on a flaming sword? (I’m thinking red cellophane on a cheap plastic sword)

  3. Jayne_Statue on October 26, 2011 at 8:27 am

    @HeatherSolos I thought you were supposed to burn Velveteen?

    #rabbit

    • HeatherSolos on October 26, 2011 at 8:29 am

      @Jayne_Statue I do not think @VelveteenMind would approve #rabbit

      • Jayne_Statue on October 26, 2011 at 8:33 am

        @HeatherSolos I read your article since I have 5 pieces of antique Victorian furniture. My take-away was: “never get Velveteen dirty.” 🙂

        • HeatherSolos on October 26, 2011 at 8:33 am

          @Jayne_Statue “never get velveteen dirty unless you want to pay big bucks for someone else to clean it or you’ll ruin it”

        • HeatherSolos on October 26, 2011 at 8:39 am

          @Jayne_Statue although in the case of actual antique furniture the quality is likely better than what you’ll find for costumes

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