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Preserving and Storing a Kimono and Obi

Cleaning

 

Vintage kimono fabrics are made of overly twisted yarn that tends to shrink if immersed in water.

 

If you just want to freshen the kimono to get rid of that musty vintage smell then just hang it in the shade outside on a clear, dry day.

 

Before the use of dry cleaning, kimono would taken apart for washing. The kimono was then reassembled. This is a blessing!

 

I recommend spot-cleaning. DO NOT USE WATER TO CLEAN OR WASH OR IMMERSE VINTAGE KIMONO! Stand on clean ground when dressing in kimono, be very careful when wearing it, and check for stains immediately after undressing. Light stains can be removed by lightly dabbing the spot with white vinegar, then patting it between two layers of cloth to draw the stain away. More serious stains would require a treatment by a kimono expert, not a normal laundry shop, but there are still no guarantees that a stain will not linger.

 

Note: Metallic embroidery does not clean. If your kimono is decorated with metallic thread, foil, silk embroidery or a painted pattern washing the piece would kill the kimono. It may pucker or crinkle if dry cleaned. This type of silk can only be very gingerly surface cleaned WITHOUT WATER!! This is why metallic embroidery was traditionally reserved for the nobility and very rich. If a kimono became dirty it was discarded or reworked into another item.

Storing

 

A kimono or obi must be folded correctly and stored in a cool, dry, dark location. Do not hang your kimono on a hanger since it will deform to fit the hanger over time. Exposure to the sun, moisture, or heat will create stains, fading, and fabric damage. For long term storage the kimono should have basting stitches in place and an insect inhibitor like cedar in the storage container. The basting stitches can be left on the kimono for long term storage to prevent bunching, folding, wrinkling, or misalignment of the kimono layers. It is very important that you only store a kimono, obi, or other kimono accessory in a clean and absolutely dry state.

Hanging a Kimono or Obi

 

To hang a kimono or obi you can use a bamboo rod or wooden dowel. For a full kimono, you'll need at least an 6 foot piece of bamboo or dowel.