Skip to Content


How to care for vintage clothing so it lasts longer


Sign-up now to take advantage of member exclusives!

As a member of Ask Team Clean, you get access to exclusive offers and the best cleaning tips.

Shopping for vintage clothing is a thrifty way to show off your unique fashion style, but it’s also a great way to practice sustainable living.1 Instead of letting yesterday’s fabulous fashion relics languish in some forgotten closet, you’re giving them another chance to shine—plus you get to feel good about looking great!

But being a retro aficionado requires special care and attention due to the condition and limited supply of the older garments. And because vintage clothes are between 20 and 99 years old by definition,2 you’re almost always getting pre-worn, lived-in clothing and that can raise a few issues.

But as long as you follow our simple tips on how to maintain and care for vintage clothing, you’ll make that studded red leather vest from the 80s last longer and prevent fabric deterioration on those vintage 60s bell-bottoms.

Choose the right vintage clothing

There’s a lot to think about while you’re shopping for vintage clothing, and a few first steps you should take after you bring your rocking new wardrobe home:

  • Look for brand names and higher quality items to be sure you are purchasing a good piece of clothing that may last longer.
  • Use detergent with dye transfer inhibitors fiber care agent (cellulase), such as, to help prolong items and keep them looking new; especially secondhand items, which can look worn and dull.
  • Wash your new finds before wearing them because they’re still old clothes—they might be musty or have residue from the previous owner(s).
  • Pay extra attention to invisible dirt (e.g., dead skin cells, dander, dust mite matter, etc.)3 and use a detergent like Persil®  ProClean® Odor Fighter4.

Ongoing care for vintage clothing

After you initially wash your vintage clothing, create a care regimen for your retro duds to keep them looking fresh while still maintaining their old-school appeal:

  • Separate your vintage clothing from other heavy-duty washes; for example, dirty garden jeans or oily kitchen towels could ruin your prized vintage T-shirt.
  • Follow strong washing basics like using the cold-water cycle,* separating lights and darks, zippering up zippers and turning them inside out to protect other clothes.
  • Remember that whether you paid a lot or a little, most vintage clothes are one-of-a-kind so consider using a garment bag for an added level of protection.
  • Snuggle SuperCare is specially designed to help prevent wear and tear and keep clothing smelling great—an absolute must-have for retro outfitters.

*Note: During winter in colder climates, cold temperature wash cycles may be too cold to be effective. Consider using warm or hot water if the clothing is dirty or smelly.

Treating vintage clothing stains

Whether your vintage clothing stains are vintage themselves, or a new bit of messy history you made all on your own, fast action and the right tools are the perfect combination to fight back:

  • Always test any detergents or other stain-removing products on a hidden part of the clothing to make sure it won’t eat away at the older fabric, color or design.
  • Pretreat vintage clothing stains with a liquid laundry detergent or a stain treater like Zout®.
  • Use the proper stain-removal technique based on the cause of your stain. For example, removing tar from your clothing is very different than getting rid of a wine stain—same goes for mayonnaise stains, tomato stains and blood stains.

Also, be sure to visit our laundry section for more helpful laundry tips. And be sure to check out our Sustainability section as well.