Heirloom garments can last for future generations, if properly cared for! You will care for a garment that is in current use a bit differently than one that has been outgrown and ready for the forever box.
The key to keeping an heirloom garment in great shape for now and for future generations, is keeping it clean. After each wearing, inspect for any stains and treat as soon as possible.
Always wash a baby garment before long term storage, even if only worn a few minutes and appears to be clean. Hidden stains, such as baby drool, contain sugar and can damage fabric.
Heirloom garment care
Treat any stain as soon as possible with a mild stain remover
Hand wash in mild soap. Rinse until water is clear..Adding ½ cup white vinegar to the rinse water will help remove any soap residue.
Roll in a clean towel and squeeze to remove excess water.
Lay flat on a towel to dry.
Iron with starch. My favorite is “Mary Ellen’s Best Press” (found at JoAnn or Hancock’s)
To store long term in a forever box
Launder as above, press but do not use any starch, and store flat and unfolded (if possible) in a clean pillowcase. You may also store in an acid free box with acid free tissue paper.
For best results:
Never use bleach
Never store without washing first
Do not store in plastic of any kind (no plastic containers or dry cleaner bags)
Store in part of the house that is climate controlled (no basements or attics)
Store flat rather than hanging
I have restored many vintage pieces and the damage I have seen have been holes (usually insects such as moths or silverfish, they love starch and paper, or from bleach) rust spots ( from untreated stains, deposits from old plumbing pipes, or from being stored in a cedar chest) mildew (from dampness and almost impossible to remove) torn lace (from being stored on a hanger, which over time creates stress on the lace).
Biz is an excellent stain remover for heirloom garments. It can make a white garment that has yellowed with age look brand new, and freshen pastels. However, if you have a piece that has hand dyed lace, it will strip the color from it.