The first point to note is that velvet can be made out of a variety of fabrics. Before proceeding with any laundering method, check the label to determine the material content of your garment. Silk velvet dominates the luxurious end of the spectrum and should always be outsourced to a professional cleaner. Velveteen, which is derived from cotton, and polyester or rayon blends are typically washed by hand. These fabrics may be machine safe, but check the care label before proceeding.
Heavily diluted natural solutions are your best bet when it comes to removing stains from velvet. One recommended method is to combine baking soda and lemon juice, but be advised: A little bit goes a long way. Ready-to-use detergent that’s specifically geared toward delicates is another good option.
Using a basin filled with cool water, gently hand-wash fabrics using a very small amount of your detergent or cleaning solution. Always test the mixture on a less noticeable patch of fabric first.
If you launder your velvet items in the washing machine, a few simple tips can help protect the fabric. Again, be sure to consult the care label instructions beforehand. Always use the gentle cycle, stick to cold water, and avoid the dryer. A good tip for to cleaning velvet is to treat these pieces like lingerie. If the item isn’t too large, place it in a delicates bag prior to laundering, and be sure to separate it from rougher materials like denim.
If your closet contains even one or two velvet or alternative fabric pieces, a garment steamer may just be the best wardrobe investment you’ve ever made. Many are light and portable (meaning velvet is back on the table for your next getaway), and an added bonus is how effective garment steamers on the creases that are all too common in velvet clothing.
There's no shame in carting your most treasured velvet pieces to the dry cleaner. For velvet apparel that’s labeled “dry clean only,” make sure you adhere to the care instructions. For luxury items, be sure to work with a dry cleaner you trust, and try to deal with stains as soon as you notice them.
In case you need one more reason to keep your velvet clean, here’s our guide to the French-girl way to wear velvet.