Washing & Care of Textiles

Our fabrics may be exotic and exceptionally beautiful, but a little bit of education can go a long ways when it comes to washing and care instructions.

Generally, hand washing and line drying are best, but I’ve compiled below descriptions of the specific fabrics featured at Serrahna and detailed instructions on how to best care for each of them.

With a little bit of attention paid to proper care, our customers find that their garments retain their colors and remain lovely for a long time. And if you have additional washing and care questions, we welcome your questions at Serrahna.

BANDHINI: A process of hand tying and dying fabric via pinching and thread wrapping to create a semi-permanent texture in silk, cotton, & wool. Once upon a time, the common cotton kerchief was made in this way, hence the word “bandana” derives from the “bandhini” technique used. After washing scarves or clothes, the texture softens only to better reveal a lovely pattern on the cloth. Only polyester will permanently maintain its texture.  Handwash your fine silk or cotton bandhinis.  Rinse water til clear, hang to dry.
BHUTI: Refers to a small dot or medallion woven into a cloth, often in a metallic or contrast thread.

BLOCK PRINT: Wooden blocks are carved by hand and used to print patterns on cotton. Often natural/vegetable dyes are used. Generally these prints are color fast if the garment is washed cool. Will shrink a small amount if tumbled dry. Air dry usually is best. Always wash first by hand to check for color runoff.  If you choose to wash by machine, color will fade faster.
BLOCK PRINT AJZARAK: An elaborate type of block print  traditionally designed by & for  Muslim men. A series of 26 different blocks create various geometric designs. Most of the imagery appear like constellations, with very little flora or fauna motifs. More often than not, these intricate prints are dyed with natural dyes. Handwash cool, hang to dry, or dryclean.
BROCADE SILK: Threads are intricately woven to create a woven pattern or jacquard. Often the borders of saris and cottons are done with a metallic brocade border. Handwash or dryclean.

BROCADE COTTON: One of the biggest detriments to washing brocade is throwing it in a machine with a bra whose hooks act like cat's claws! Handwash cool, hang dry, or dry clean is best. Use a warm iron to press out rippled metallic borders.

COTTON: Considered to be India's staple textile. Most cottons come sized with rice starch to give the fabric stiffness. One wash will remove much of the sizing. Two or three washings give a soft fine flow to the garment. One can always spray back in the starch washed out if a crisp look is desired.

CRUSH POLY: Machine crushed synthetics retain a permanent crush even after repeated machine washings. Hang to dry, never iron!

CRUSH SILK: A pleating method, done by hand, which resembles an irregular narrow knife pleat. 


Crushed Silks & Cottons can regain their crushed look by doing the following:

1. Hand wash or machine ULTRA delicate, separately.

2. Use liquid soap that has NO bleach. Read the fine print to find out.

3. Wash, rinse, hang. NEVER soak!

4. Hang to dry. When damp/almost dry, twist from end to end (neckline to hem) enclosing sleeves. Twist until the garment twists unto itself, and tie into a pretzel like knot. Leave to dry 24 hours in a warm but not sunny location. 

  1. 5.Unfold. If still damp, retwist and repeat drying process.

  2. 6.For an ultra crushed effect, spray starch onto the garment while damp or dry before crushing.

EMBROIDERY: Indian embroidery ranks among the world's finest. Either hand or machine embroidery requires dry cleaning. In some cases, a careful hand wash is fine, too. Mirrorwork is done by hand; small glass or foil mirrors are encased with a handstitched thread.

GEORGETTE: A lightweight rayon crepe which dyes and drapes well. Can be hand washed, but beware because it will shrink. The cloth can be ironed out to its original size. However, to avoid shrinkage, dry clean.

HAND WASH: With a mild liquid soap that contains no bleach, garments that are hand washable should be gently immersed in the tepid solution. Wash>Rinse>Hang. Never Soak! Soaking encourages dye runoff. Since many Indian textiles are dyed without the chemical agents that pollute our environment, there can and often will be some color runoff.

IKAT: An intricate method of creating a pattern onto cloth. First the unwoven threads are bound and dyed. After the loom is harnessed, the cloth is woven to reveal its pattern. Double ikats refer to this treatment on both the warp and weft.
KHADI: Refers to a hand woven cloth, as promoted by Mahatma Gandhi.

LACE: Stretch lace is generally a nylon & lycra mix. Machine wash & hang to dry.

LAHARIA: Means wave in Hindi. The fabric is folded on the bias and wrapped with interval binding threads, creating a linear pattern and semi-permanent texture.

QUILTING: Either hand stitched with long running threads, or machine quilted, this technique gives a thick textured look to garments and shawls. Our handquilted items are made in the deserts of India by women’s cooperatives, similar to quilting bees. Hand washing or drycleaning is best.

SHIBORI: A method of ruching cloth with a needle & thread which creates folds & creases which resists dye. Note the needle marks on the cloth. Hand care or dryclean.

SHOT: Refers to the 2-tone coloration of cloth as woven by a warp of one color and a weft of another. AKA: shark skin, doop-chow. Synthetic shot fabrics can be delicately hand/machine washed and hung to dry.

SILK: Indian silks are sumptuous. Dry cleaning is best for most silks although hand washing is doable for those willing to accept that shrinkage and temporary texture change is inevitable. Any lined garment should always be dry cleaned!

SILK CRUSH: Follow instructions above under CRUSH SILK.

SILK EMBROIDERY: Beads, sequins, & thread work require special care.

SILK ORGANZA: Ultra fine, “the emperors new clothes” of textiles. Handwash this wispy sheer silk.

SILK LIGHT WEIGHT: Used for our hand embroidered tunics, handcare or dryclean.

SILK RAW: Heavier & characterized by its slubs, this classic likes to be either handwashed or drycleaned. If ironing is required, make sure the temp on the iron is low.

VELVET: Our current line is a rayon velvet, which is mill crushed. One can hand wash or dryclean, but please note that eventually the crush will flatten out.

VELVET DEVORE: Burnout velvet, a sheer background is revealed along with the nap of the velvet. Machine wash, hang to dry.

WOOL: Often hand loomed into shawls, brocades come from the northern state of Kashmir.

WOOL KASHMIRI ARI: Hand embroidered woolens are the hallmark of northern India. Handwash or Dryclean.

WOOL PASHMINA: Either pure pashmina comes from the underbelly of a spring goat, or a pashmina wool mixed with
silk makes a super fine shawl.

WOOL PASHMINA BROCADE: Pashmina & silk blend, handwashable. Brocades so soft are prone to snagging, so take care with jewelry & cats.

WOOL KUTCHI: Tribal woolens can come from Gujarat, Rajasthan, & other northern territories. Hand care or dryclean.

ZARDOZI: 3-D Embroidery with sometimes pure gold or silver threads, beads, & sequins. Often considered wedding finery, royalty wear or stage costume, the high glitz of this metallic thread is unmistakably Indian. If you must clean, a gentle hand wash is preferred. No wringing, soaking, or ironing.

© 2012 Serrahna