Some say handloom saris are an investment, and for good reason. Apart from the fact that good-quality silks can be pricey, saris carry a sentimental value for the wearer and their timelessness means they are passed down generations in families, just like prized heirlooms.
But in order to ensure they look just as vibrant and fresh as the day you bought them, extra care needs to be taken, for handloom pieces can be volatile. They need to be stored and preserved in a certain manner to avoid stains, tears, moth holes, and the dreaded mildew smell.
If you want to keep your nine yards in top shape but are confused where to begin, these steps will be your guide in ensuring your saris stay beautiful and pristine.
Dry clean after every use
The easiest way to take care of your expensive handloom saris is to dry clean it after every use. It might seem excessive, but dry cleaning immediately after use will get rid of any dirt, unwanted stains and grease, and won’t affect the colour or fabric of the sari. Post dry cleaning, store it in a safe and proper manner. If dry cleaning is not an option, then you can hand wash your sari in cold water, before air drying in a shaded area to avoid fading.
Use breathable cloth bags for storage
Most people tend to store their saris by using hangers, either wooden or wire ones. While wooden hangers might not do any harm, wire hangers can wreak havoc on saris. They crease the fabric, and can also result in tears if stored in the same position for a long time. Your best and safest bet is to opt for cotton bags exclusively made for storing saris. Since cotton is a soft and breathable fabric and allows air to circulate, your saris don’t get that dreaded musty smell, and the bag keeps it safe from bugs, oxidation, and wrinkles. It’s a win-win!
Refold them every few months
One of the biggest mistakes people make is carefully storing their precious handloom saris and then forgetting about them, since you don’t tend to wear them often. If you’re not frequently wearing a certain sari, it is important to take them out from their bag, refold them in a different pattern, and then store them again. If the same folds remain for a long time, there are chances your sari might tear from that crease.
Store them in a dry and dark place
The pigment and fabric of handloom saris are extremely sensitive to light, so keep them in a cool, dark and dry place. Make sure they are not exposed directly to sunlight or humidity, which can both weaken the fabric and fade the dye of the cloth.
Keep moths and bugs at bay with natural repellents
Since silk is a natural protein, it attracts all sorts of bugs and moths, so it’s important to keep your silk handloom saris safe so you don’t end up with unwanted moth holes. The easiest way to do this is by using moth balls, but if you’d rather go for something more natural, and want to avoid the chemical-like smell of naphthalene, try using dried lavender, dried neem leaves, or even clove to keep moths at bay.
Steam iron only if needed
Your first step of defence against wrinkles is to store your sari in cloth bags—the gentle folds won’t leave hard wrinkles like wire hangers might. But if you still end up finding some before wearing, just steam the required area with a steamer or steam iron, to smoothen out the creases. Needless to say, it’s not the wisest decision to directly iron your sari, as the intense heat can cause damage to the fabric. Instead, if you must, use an iron by keeping a cotton cloth between the iron and the silk to avoid any mishaps.