How to wash and care for natural print fabrics

Here is a blog post on how to wash and care for natural print fabrics. Naturally print or eco print is terms use frequently and they mean the same. These tips work the same as natural dyed fabrics as well. I am showing natural print as the change of print is shows up more. Natural dyed fabrics just fades over time. Some even as you dye them ??!!!

As you know now I am now very much into natural printing and dyeing nowadays. I print whenever I am free as it’s relatively to produce but can be frustrating and time consuming as well. Caring for these printed and dyed fabrics is equally just as important. This is because natural dyes aren’t as lasting as synthetic dyed fabrics. It is a fact and that’s the nature of using quite a lot of natural dyes. Here is an article I found about the fastness of natural dyes. Mordants do help with staying power but there is still a limited life span of what it does. However, some dyes like indigo, madder, and weld will last for awhile.

eco printed cotton top
The cotton top printed beginning of last year

How to wash and care for natural print fabrics

I have been printing and dyeing naturally print fabrics now for about 3-4 years so this is still a learning process for me. Life is busy for me with a young family to care for. I don’t have the luxury of handwashing naturally printed fabrics. When I first got into printing I used silk fabric a fair amount they are used mainly for scarves so they only require a light wash. I chose to use silk as it’s a much easier fabric to print on for beginners than cotton. As it is a protein (animal base) fibre and cotton is cellulose (plant base). Then I move on to cotton as I much prefer eco-friendly and natural fibres these prints are then made into garments for summer wear.

These items were prints using an iron mordant as they were great in producing prints of fabrics for beginners. I wash these garments and still do using a 30-degree wash with neutral pH soap like Bio D concentrated washing powder which is 100% natural. I have also got frequently worn items dyed with pomegranate peels washed in the washing machine with ordinary soap powder like Persil (a commercially produce washing detergent that is commonly available in supermarkets here in the UK) at times I am glad to say the colour is still there. Textile items with tannin compounds tend to have staying power.

one can also use soapnut a naturally occurring soap product which I believe is very mild. I have yet to try it perhaps one day. I believe it washes well with naturally dyed fabrics.

cotton printed top after washing for nearly 2 years
Cotton top after a few washes in washing machine on light wash

One of the easier ways to care for naturally dyed fabrics and garments is to keep them out of sunlight as much as possible. The sunlight just bleaches natural dye and prints away fairly quickly. Another tip is not to use fugitive dyes like turmeric, red cabbage, and beetroot as fabric dyes. A good way to get rid of those bad prints. Trust me I had a few of them even sometimes nowadays.

Use correct mordants and leaves that prints

The top that I have shown here has got staying power because of the mordants I use which is an iron blanket so it creates a long staying power even the print looks darker and not as bright. The strength of iron mordants is also slightly different from the other this creates a difference staying power on the fabric as well. The horse chestnut print stayed on the fabric whereas the acer print has faded. Plants have got many complex chemicals in them some are definitely printers and have staying powder and some simply don’t. Some even without washing will fade over time. So choose wisely.

front view of cotton top
Cotton top just freshly printed

Thank you for dropping by and reading. Do have a look at my other blog post like dyeing with pomegranate and printing with logwood.

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