Batik prints are applied to fabric, with some timing and hand-done technique, involving dyes and wax. The results are saturated tones in wavy repeat patterns, now part of formerly blank cotton and silk, and we want them to stay looking that way! Improper care of your batiks can lead to fading. Don’t worry too much though, caring for your special pieces is very easy!
How To Wash Cotton Batiks:
Bene Caribe’s Batik artist, Don Sealy, told me repeatedly “No Bleach.” He instructed to only use cold water, and line dry if you can, but most importantly: No Bleach or detergents with bleach added. I asked about the colour running on to other garments in the wash, but he assured me that you should not expect to find the dye running. I personally prefer to hand wash and spot clean, but cotton batiks can tolerate a delicate cycle in your machine. He also emphasised not to line dry in direct sunlight, or at least not for a long period. The sun could fade the print.
How to Clean Silk Batiks:
We apply our batiks prints to both silk and cotton, and the care for each differs just slightly. The best bet for silk clothing would be to Dry Clean only, but it’s not your only option. Silk batiks can be washed gently by hand in cold or lukewarm water with silk-friendly detergent. Just like with the cotton batiks, no bleach! If you can get your hands on Lerak seeds, this is perfect, but a mild baby shampoo can be used to wash these fabrics as well. Dissolve in water, the baby shampoo or whatever cleanser you have that is safe on silks, and soak your clothing in the bath for no more than just five minutes. Swish it around slowly and rinse with clean water. Generally it is not advised to wash your batiks too often, so after a light wear, just aerate the garment or pass a steamer to freshen it up.
Do not wring dry, or scrub as this can break up the fibres and ruin the smooth hand of the fabric. To keep your batiks lustrous, just ball up and squeeze to get rid of excess water from washing, lay flat on a towel and roll. After most of the moisture is absorbed out of it, lay your garment flat to dry.
How To Store:
These natural fabrics can result in wrinkling easily, so fold your batik gently and don’t pile up under of between a lot of other pieces. You want to avoid having to iron them and applying too much heat, so smooth and fold, roll, or hang in an uncrowded closet. Moths will be drawn to these natural fibres, so take precautions to keep them away. Moth repellent is an option, but a breathable garment bag (not plastic) is a great way to keep these treasured pieces safe from pests, while keeping them creaseless and ready to wear.
I keep my batik scarves in a woven box on my dresser (See the image above). They are almost decorative, loosely folded and then rolled. I sometimes stack them, or arrange them side by side. I wear one almost everyday in some way, whether as a headscarf, a dress or another accessory I invent at the spur of the moment. Having them where I can see and pull from easily makes getting dressed that much more efficient. The best part is that they double as decor in my room. I love seeing the pops of brightness against my otherwise very neutral area.
How to Prep to wear:
Steaming is the best way to get creases out, but it is best not to get too wrinkled in the first place, by tightly folding or stuffing into over-packed drawers. Ironing on a low to medium heat it fine too, as too much heat can begin to fade the colours. A trick I recently learned (so late in the game) is to hang your garment in the bathroom while you take a steam shower, and it would relax the wrinkles! Shower, Check! Outfit, Check! saves times and maintains your garment.
Your clothing is such a personal thing. It is what you carry closest to your body at all times. Make thoughtful decisions about the pieces you purchase. You should intend to have them for many years. They are an investment into your personal style and signature. Take good care of your garments, and they will stay with you season after season, trend after trend!