How to care for your African print fabrics

Posted by Ebunoluwa Broomes on

   Now that you've rocked your vibrant African print garment and received so many compliments, you're wondering "how do I properly wash and care for the fabric?"

     No doubt, the plethora of colors and patterns of the Ankara fabric makes it irresistible. However, to maintain this beauty, this fabric has to be treated with utmost care. You treat the legendary Ankara anyhow, it loses its shine and you lose your fabric. You sure don’t want that.

    While it may seem challenging, there are certain steps you can take to ensure your garments remain in the same fabulous condition in which you first received them. Here are some general tips you can follow!


  • TEST THE COLOURFASTNESS
  •      Separate colors from whites. If you would like to mix your African fabrics with others, test the colorfastness of the fabrics. You can try these two easy methods to test the fabrics:

    1. A) Dampen a piece of white cloth, lay it on top of the print fabric and iron them both until dry
    2. B) Apply your cleaning agent to a hidden seam of the garment then dab the area with a clean cotton cloth. If the color removes itself from the garment onto the cloth with any of these methods then you know not to mix it with other garments.
  • PICK THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE & DETERGENT
  • The safest and best way to clean your African print fabrics is to hand wash them in cold or lukewarm water. If you have to use a washing machine, wash in cold water on the gentle cycle and skip the spin cycle. 

  • DRY YOUR GARMENTS PROPERLY
  •     Hang the garments to dry or lay them down. Wringing or twisting them to dry will only compromise the rich colors of the fabric and cause them to fade quickly.

    Tumble drying is a no no!

    Always iron the garment on the inside.

  • ALWAYS TURN INSIDE OUT IF USING A WASHING MACHINE


  • This is a very crucial step to take if you are using a washing machine for your clothes. Always ensure that you turn the inside of the clothes out before washing with the machine. This is because the spinning action of the machine subjects the cloth under high pressure. It will be better and more precise if the pressure only affects the inside of the fabric (which is normally covered with linen). This will prevent the color from fading quickly and ensure that the dye is not affected by the spinning-action of the machine.

        Next time you decide to use a machine to wash your clothes, remember “Turn the inside Out”. The 3 seconds to flip it inside out can save your Ankara fabric. 

  • AVOID WASHING FREQUENTLY
  •     You shouldn’t dump your Ankara cloth in the laundry every time, after wearing it. Avoid frequent washing of your Ankara fabrics. The reason is that too much exposure of the dyes in the Ankara clothes to the detergent will cause it to wear off quickly.

         You can spread your clothing on a line to air-dry it if it is not very dirty. This is an effective way to avoid washing it. Nevertheless, if you have perspired on the Ankara fabric earlier, it is advisable to wash it to prevent unwanted odor and ensure you look spick and span.

  •  AVOID SUNNING FOR TOO LONG 
  •     Exposure of any cotton to extreme temperatures reduces its quality and durability. In other to get maximum satisfaction and use from your Ankara clothes, ensure that you don’t leave it in the sun for too long. If possible, spread it under a shade. It is preferable to air-dry, than to sun-dry. Also, ensure that you avoid over-drying your Ankara clothes in a dryer.

  • SET THE IRON ON THE IDEAL HEAT
  • Since most African print fabrics are made of cotton, the setting for cotton on your iron is appropriate. However, look out for attachments made of linen and other more delicate fabrics which may require a lower setting.

  • HAND WASHING VS DRY CLEANING
  •    Stains are unfortunately unavoidable. When removing stains while hand washing, never use bleach or anything as harsh. Instead try using something gentler on fabrics like baking soda.

        If you are going to get your garments professionally cleaned then make sure the establishment has experience with African print fabrics. Whichever method you choose, hand washing or dry cleaning, we hope these tips will help keep your pieces vibrant!



    N.B: Separate Ankara patterns from other fabrics. Mixing and washing your Ankara with other fabrics might destroy the latter peradventure your Ankara sheds some colors.

    Also, avoid buying paper-like Ankara fabrics. Once you touch them, and they feel like paper, it is advisable that you don’t go ahead purchasing it. Ankara fabrics are meant to feel like cotton and not paper. Most of these paper-like Ankara fabrics often run (wash) and fade. 


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