Chiffon is a delicate fabric often used in evening dresses, but sometimes used for day dresses and blouses as well. There are several different types of chiffon and each requires a different method of care. In all cases, be as delicate as possible with your chiffon garment to preserve its beauty.
Silk chiffon is the most delicate type of chiffon. It should never, ever be thrown into the washing machine, because water will shrink the fabric. Silk chiffon is best sent to a dry cleaner you trust--it also snags easily, so handle it with extreme care. If you happen to stain a silk chiffon dress or blouse, don't attempt to clean the stain yourself by applying water or rubbing the fabric with a napkin--send it to the dry cleaner as soon as possible.
Crepe, or rayon, chiffon was developed in France in the 1890s and has a somewhat thicker texture than silk chiffon. Nonetheless, it's very easy for this fabric to lose its shape when wet. It can easily stretch or shrink, so avoid putting it into the washing machine so that the dress or blouse continues to fit you. As with silk chiffon, dry cleaning is your safest option.
Polyester chiffon was developed to mimic the softness and draping quality of silk chiffon for a lower price and easier care. Polyester chiffon can sometimes be washed--check the manufacturer's instructions. When washing polyester chiffon in your washing machine, use a delicate cycle with a cold temperature. Keep it away from other garments that might bleed color onto it, and make sure that there's nothing in your load of laundry that could snag the fabric, such as a loose hook.
If you can't get to a dry cleaner's, it's sometimes possible to hand-wash chiffon garments. In that case, take extreme care. Rub very, very gently using a gentle detergent. Never wring chiffon, as this will damage it and cause it to lose its shape. Lay the garment flat to dry rather than hanging it to prevent stretching.
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Naomi Baldinger began writing professionally in 2007. Her areas of expertise include cooking, literature, film, Jewish culture, the nonprofit sector, education and translation. Her work has appeared in "Git Nu" and "The Journal of Jewish Identities" among other publications. Baldinger holds a Master of Arts in comparative literature from the University of California, Los Angeles.