Vintage gives that certain finesse and class that modern, ready-to-wear garments just do not have. Vintage clothes feature handmade details and a certain style that withstood the test of time. However, if baby clothes require special care since their wearer has very sensitive skin, caring for vintage baby clothes needs an even more delicate approach.
If you want your baby to wear a treasure family christening gown or a lovely vintage piece you picked up at an antique shop for special occasions, check first if the garments are strong enough to wash. If the fabric is musty or smells like mildew, it may not be strong enough to withstand being immersed in water. If you are not certain whether a vintage piece can be washed safely, then seek professional help.
You can also try vacuuming dirt off the clothes before washing them. Lay the garments flat and use a low-suction vacuum with a clean brush attached to the hose. Hold the vacuum about an inch above the garment.
If you have determined that the vintage garments are safe to wash, place them first on a piece of nylon net to support the delicate fibers, then soak it in cool water. You can leave the garments there for a couple of hours to loosen any dirt trapped in the clothes. Use a mild laundry soap. Many professional cleaners use Orvus Paste. It is available at many sewing and art-supply stores. Orvus Paste has cleaning and whitening properties but is gentle on fabric.
If the fabric is very delicate, do not try to work out small stains. If the fabric of the garment is sturdy, you can use a laundry soap that contains a color-safe bleach. The bleach can help light yellow age marks in the fabric as well as brighten white pieces that have not been washed for several years. You can also soak the garments in a gentle cleanser for an hour to lift the stains. For garments made of cotton, polyester, wool or rayon, use a stronger cleanser. Try soaking them in hot water first for about an hour to soften the fabric. For lace, handwash them with mild detergent. You might also want to consider using 4 to 5 denture cleaning tablets to the water to break up and pull out the stains. For silk clothes, soak them in lukewarm water with mild detergent and two denture tablets. Rub the fabric gently to lift stains.
Make sure to rinse the vintage garments thoroughly to remove all places of traces of soap. Do not wring the garments as this can damage the fabric. Always let vintage pieces air dry rather than use the heat of the dryer.
As for storage, it is very crucial that you avoid storage places that are light, dirty, damp and hot. Light and heat can cause fading in the colors of the garments and can cause damage in the fibers. An appropriate long term storage should be cool, dry and dark place with good air circulation to prevent dampness and growth of molds.