Before you put your Barongs and other spring / summer garments into winter storage in exchange for the sweaters & jackets, here are some tips to ensure they’ll look great the next time you wear them.
First, a little fabric refresher (pun intended). Most formal Barongs are made of Jusi fabric (raw silk organza) or Piña fabric (woven pineapple leaf fibers). These two fabrics require somewhat special care due to their organic qualities and their low density weave. In short, they can’t handle a rough cleaning method (like a washing machine) or strong chemical cleaning solutions.
If your Barongs are made of Jusi or Piña or something that resembles them, follow the guidelines below. If you’re unsure of the fabric, and there are no care labels on the Barong, err on the side of caution and treat it like it’s delicate.
While dry cleaning helps maintain the original texture of most fabrics, it does carry some risks when it comes to Jusi & Piña fabric. Commonly used cleaning solutions aren't suited to Jusi & Piña and these fabrics can be damaged if placed in the same vat with rougher fabrics. If you must take it to the cleaners, do make sure your Jusi & Piña gets proper treatment by telling the dry cleaner that your garment is made from silk (Jusi) or pineapple fiber (Piña) and make sure they know how to clean your fabric.
Silk fabric has been produced for over five thousand years, whereas the dry cleaning process has only been around since the 1840s. Clearly, dry cleaning isn't a must. The natural coating on silk fibers reacts well to warm water, so hand washing also has the advantage of refreshing silk and giving it a better drape. Jusi & Piña can be hand washed in cool or lukewarm water using a mild detergent such as Woolite, Ivory soap, or shampoo dissolved in the water. Only a small amount of soap should be used. Jusi & Piña, like most natural fibers, doesn't tolerate abrupt changes in temperature very well, so stay with one water temperature throughout the wash. Avoid soaking Jusi & Piña as this may fade the dye. To both revive faded or yellowed colors and protect the fabric from alkali damage, rinse the Jusi & Piña in water with a few tablespoons of white vinegar added. After the wash and vinegar rinse, rinse the Jusi & Piña thoroughly in cool water.
Never! In general, machine washing is the worst way to clean Jusi & Piña as the agitator and other garments can and will damage the fabric. Garments made with a combination of fabrics or those that are highly detailed should not be machine washed at all
A capful of hydrogen peroxide and or a few drops of ammonia added to the wash will help keep white silk bright and rinsing silk in white vinegar diluted with water will help remove yellowing. While recent perspiration stains may be washed out or dabbed with a tablespoon of ammonia dissolved in half cup of water, older perspiration may be removed with a vinegar solution. Unfortunately, though, perspiration stains on silk, as on many garments, may not be completely removable as perspiration causes damage to the fibers. Remember, silk may be strong, but harsh chemicals can cause permanent damage, so avoid using bleach or any product that contains bleach, enzymes, or whiteners on silk.
Never use a machine dryer to dry any Jusi or Piña garment as the friction and lack of humidity and can damage the fabric. Instead, roll the Jusi or Piña garment up in a bath towel and gently press the water out. Never wring Jusi or Piña. When most of the water is out, the Barong may be hung up to dry or may be dried on a flat surface (i.e. sweater drying net). Keep the garment away from heat sources or direct sunlight, both of which can turn Jusi & Piña yellow.
Jusi & Piña should be pressed while still damp, never when completely dry. If the garment has dried, dampen it with water from a spritzer bottle before ironing. To avoid damage, turn the item inside out and iron on the reverse side of the fabric on a cotton-covered ironing board. Use a low setting and don't use steam, which can leave watermarks. Because many Barongs are hand sewn, take care not to apply pressure to the seams of the garment.
For long-term storage, keep Jusi or Piña in a cotton pillowcase or other material that can breathe. Avoid plastic, which traps moisture and can cause yellowing and mildew. Jusi & Piña, like other natural fibers, is a favorite with moths, so store cedar chips or balls with your silk to keep the bugs away.
Jusi & Piña may be considered a luxury, but caring for it properly doesn't cost much in terms of either money or time. Gentle washing, drying away from a heat source, and storage in material that provides air circulation is all Jusi & Piña really need to stay looking good. Care for your Jusi & Piña garments well and they'll keep their original beauty and texture for years.