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Nine Lives of Your African Wax Print

Are you considering buying a beautiful African wax print outfit for a special occasion but not sure how to manage it long term? Or did you recently purchase one and can’t seem to figure how best to make it retain the richness and intensity of its colors? Well! Well! Well! Worry not. We’ve got you covered in this edition of our blog.

African wax print or Ankara fabrics as they popularly known are very vibrant and richly coloured fabrics which are truly a sight to behold. They come in varied quality, patterns, textures and colours with the capacity to survive the seasons of the year many times over depending on how well it is managed.

Most Ankara fabrics of excellent quality do not bleed easily. However, it is advisable to wash them separately regardless. The first thing you want to do is ensure your Ankara fabric isn’t one to bleed during laundry by performing a simple fabric test by dipping a small piece of the Ankara fabric in cold soapy water. Allow the fabric sit in the soapy solution for 20- 30 minutes, then lift and squeeze to check to see if the water is discoloured.

Next, the mode of washing is another factor to consider. Although in this day and age most people just want to throw their clothes in the washing machine while they watch some good TV show: your Ankara fabric isn’t one of those clothes. Treat your Ankara fabric as the Holy Grail! Like an actual Versace piece. Your Ankara is one fabric that is better off hand-washed, but if you must use a washing machine, ensure you are extremely gentle. More than anything else try to focus on major stains, making sure you wash with cold or lukewarm water – never hot water. Avoid stressing the fabric more than necessary; this is why hand washing is most preferred and recommended. Treat your Ankara like you would your toughest Chinos trouser. I may be wrong, but the average person doesn’t wash their Chinos trousers every single time they wear it. If after an outing your dress isn’t horribly stained, feel free to air it before folding or hanging it away.

Most importantly, as often as you can, air dry your Ankara fabric instead of putting it in the dryer. Similarly, ensure you do not hang the fabric under direct sunlight to dry. Why? Too much heat is bad news for Ankara fabrics...

Perhaps, the question on your mind right now is ‘what about ironing then?’ Well this advice goes for literally every fabric or garment you own. Always iron the inner/wrong side of your fabric. That part is usually already faded and so, it doesn’t really matter much. Direct heat on the proper side of your dress will have your fabric fading quicker than a smile. With the Ankara fabric, heat really isn’t your best friend especially if the clothes are embellished with pearls or gems.

The importance of caring for your Ankara print cannot be overemphasized. Just as dramatic pieces are best hung in order not to disrupt the sculpture and bags are stuffed to retain their shape, Ankara fabrics are laundered with utmost care to prolong its life span which could be comparable to that of the symbolic cat. This could six, seven or nine years as the case maybe.

In an upcoming post, we will share how to manage those pesky labels on your Ankara fabrics.

Until then, enjoy the rest of your week

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