Silk and Age Discoloration

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Silk and Age Discoloration

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 5:40 am

NAME: CHIEKO

Does anyone know if it is possible to remove those yellowish age spots from silk? I see these spots on synthetic kimono too, mostly on the lining, but I recently fell in love with a shibori haori that is very light in color. The seller says that there are no stains on it, but the pictures appear to have small dark yellow age spots and lighter yellow age discoloration in much larger areas. I know silk is very delicate, but couldn't something designed for delicate fabrics, like Woolite for Dark colors, at least make the discoloration less noticeable?

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Re: Silk and Age Discoloration

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 5:41 am

NAME: SARCASM-HIME

Some spots may come out with gentle hand-washing, but the other factors to consider are that a) many dyes used on kimono are not stable and will bleed into the surrounding fabric, and b) linings and/or threads used in the garment construction may shrink at a different rate than the garment itself. Rayon, for example, shrinks upon exposure to cold water.

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Re: Silk and Age Discoloration

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 5:41 am

NAME: CHIEKO

I read somewhere that hydrogen peroxide is bad for silk, because that's what I usually use to get rid of specific stain spots. I thought that Woolite Dark might be better for hand washing, and because its specifically made for dyes that might run. There has to be a way to clean these (without sending them to Japan to be washed) without too much damage.

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Re: Silk and Age Discoloration

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 16, 2016 5:41 am

NAME: CHIISANO HATO

Yellowing in silk is really hard to get rid of, if possible at all.

You may want to check out Western vintage clothing care sites to see if they have suggestions.

Something in the back of mind speaks to lemon juice and sunlight.

I know bleach will just destroy it.

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Re: Silk and Age Discoloration

Post by koneko » Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:04 pm

I know this is thread is long gone, but just a few points if anyone is looking for washing info and finds it...

First, sorry I feel your pain...but you can't wash shibori at all--it will lose the texture of the shibori--you know, the little raises in the fabric where each knot has been tied. If you unpick a little of the lining and check, occasionally good quality shibori will have an incredibly light silk gauze backing sewn randomly onto the reverse side of the shibori, and this might help to support it a little, but I doubt it would do so with any kind of universal regularity over the whole body of the silk :sad: Even cold water would blow (collapse and flatten) the texture. You'd end up with a sad mess in which the outer side of the kimono would bag and sag and be noticeably bigger than the lining--and chances are you wouldn't get the stains out either! :twitch:
All silk eventually yellows; it's a chemical process. This accelerates the damper the air that the silk is stored in. Even new silk if left to dry from wet without aid, will yellow after only a few washes; you always towel-dry as much moisture from silk as you can. You can also yellow silk with heat (say, by ironing it too hot once you've washed it and carefully towel-dried it).

The spotted stains in the lining are probably from a kind of rice size--a stiffening paste mixed with cold water (and a little soya paste!) and applied during manufacture which makes it easier to sew the silk, especially the super-light 8mommes habutae (habotoi/habutoi/habotae) used for lining kimono. Eventually the enzymes in the size begin to break down and yellow. I'm afraid there's nothing you can do about it other than change out the lining entirely, as it's a chemical process within the proteins of the silk, and irreversible. If it's in its very -very- early stages you may lighten it a little, but it will continue to re-yellow at its own sweet pace. When it gets really bad and begins to darken to brown, it can also transfer the stain over to the outer body of the kimono at points where they are in close contact, such as folds. For a collector, that point (or hopefully just before!) is when you remove the lining regardless of the fact that you're now removing an original part of the piece. Some people keep them and store them separately. I once cut one up and tried every suggested method of removing the stains from silk that I could find anywhere on the net. None made any real and valid difference to the spotting, and a few destroyed the silk entirely. Even if you get some staining out, the silk fibers are so weakened and lacking in mass because of their chemically altered state that the silk is often unable to support its own weight any more.

Lemon juice -can- remove genuine rust stains because rust is an oxide of iron, and acids can be used to treat oxidised stains, such as yellow marks on general laundry. With things such as lemon juice what you're actually doing is not removing the stain, but 'bleaching' it to a lighter color (for clothing that you wear this isn't a problem of course, but in long-term preservation terms, this means that the chemical process that caused the stain is still continuing at the same pace, you just can no longer see the damage it incurred up to this point). The reason that lemon juice works so often is that most stains, whether alkaline or oxide, tend to oxidize with age, and so can be partially digested by an acidic compound like lemon juice. Obviously, never use chlorine bleach on silk; it will digest the proteins and the silk will be no more!

The annoying thing is that there are now man-made sizes/starches which could do the same job without any permanent damage (that anyone knows about yet!), but this is the way sizing always been done, so even today most of the habutae used to line kimono is stiffened in this way, making it a ticking time bomb :sad: They even do it to man-made linings! (although to be honest I've never tried to get it out of a poly lining, or read about anyone who has...anyone tried?? And of course, jinken/rayon + water is a catastrophe waiting to happen :frazzled: Resin-treated rayon can actually be washed, but without knowing for sure, don't try it! )

There's an entire separate thread here for washing, but my advice for washing any kimono is definitely that if it's pre-1970's don't even try. If it's post-'70's it MAY be possible, but go to the huge long washing thread for heaps of advice, and test, test, test before you dunk your pride and joy! :wink:

But yes, the only thing you can do is live with it or take it out and replace it, and having had a half-remade haori sitting in my tansu for about 3 years now, I can tell you they're the most difficult and insanely time-consuming thing to remake! Forget kimono--kimono are a breeze compared to haori :angerburst:

If you want a ridiculously useful overview on silk, this https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/162153/ has to be one of the best thesis out there :smile:
Last edited by koneko on Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:37 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Silk and Age Discoloration

Post by ainokimono » Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:44 am

koneko - the link to the thesis doesn't seem to work. Could you edit it? Thanks! :smile:

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Re: Silk and Age Discoloration

Post by koneko » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:18 pm

Hi :smile:

Sorry about that, I'd forgotten that it was a PDF :oops:

I've corrected the link above, but here it is againhttps://eprints.soton.ac.uk/162153/. The PDF download button is on the right of the screen, to view the whole thesis on the University of Southampton website. :smile:

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