Following are some guidelines for proper care of kimono, obi and haori.
Wearing the kimono
- Make sure that your hands are clean an dry before you touch the kimono
- Before you use the kimono, let it hang to air out one hour before you wear it.
- Take a shower before you wear the kimono, or make sure that you don't have creme and grease on your skin.
- Do not expose the kimono to rain, snow or direct sun.
- Be very careful when eating in your kimono. If you reach out for something, lift the sleeve with the other hand.
- Put a handkerchief in your lap when eating, and lean forward when sitting at a table.
Storing of the kimono
- Let the kimono hang to air out on a dry day for one hour or more before you store it. However, do not leave it on a hanger for days. Otherwise, it may fade or lose its shape.
- Avoid humidity. It can stain the silk, and it is a good idea to wrap the kimono in thin paper. There is a special type of paper for this purpuse, called tatou-shi, but regular paper is fine.
- Put a layer of paper in the drawer before you store the kimono and moth-balls are highly recommendable. However, alyways remember to wrap the moth balls in paper, or else the may stain the kimono.
- Do not put it in a plastic bag.
- If you store the kimono for a longer period of time, air it out twice a year on a dry, after two or three sunny days. Let it hang for four hours, protected from direct sunlight.
Cleaning the kimono
First of all, there is no standard technique to clean kimono, you must use your own common sense.
- Some stains can be removed with benzene, but caution should be exercised, for it can sometimes leave a stain itself, and has harmful short- and long-term health effects. Take a piece of cloth and dip it in benzene. Tap the fabric lightly, without rubbing it out. It is a good idea to consult the dry cleaner about the treatment of the delicate fabric.
- Let mud dry first if it gets on a garment. After it dries, brush it off in the direction of the grain of the kimono.
- If the kimono is made of pure cotton, and have no lining, you may
- If the fabric is silk, it is advicable to send it to the dry cleaner, but make sure that the dry cleaning understands the delicasy of the material an decorations.
- A delicate silk kimono can be hand washed in lukewarm water or about 30ºC, with a mild, neutral soap. Let the kimono soak for a couple of minutes, and squeeze it gently.
- You can use a centrifuge to spin dry the fabric, but on the lowest spinning speed.
- When the kimono is stil wet, let it hang or place it on a clean flat surface to dry - Not in direct sunlight. NB: Make sure the kimono is completely dry before folding.
- You can dry iron you kimono at low temperature, with a thin, white piece of cloth between the iron and the fabric. Use a thin piece of paper between iron and embroiderings, gilts and crests. Do not use steam, as this may stain the kimono.
- Water stains the kimono, and the best way to prevent this, is to soak it in cold water with a mild soap, as soon as possible. Do not soak for more than 2-3 minutes. However, if the lining is dark or red, do not do this, as the colour may run and stain the kimono. If the kimono has red or dark lining, place a wet towel on the spot, and bring it to the dry cleaner for spot treatment.
- When drying, let the kimono hang in shade, or use a hair dayer with cold air. Warm air can make the silk fibres contract.
- If the kimono smells of e.g. moth balls, the best thing is to air it out with an open window, or send it to a dry cleaner.
- Obi is not made to be washed, so if it is really stained, there is, alas, nothing you can do. In a last attempt to save an obi, you may try to take it apart and send it to dry cleaning, and stich it back together afterwards.
In the old days, the whole kimono was taken apart, hand washed seperately and dried out on wooden boards and then stiched together again. This method is called arai-bari, and is still used this day to clean precious kimono, since it is the best way to preserve it.
Folding a kimono can be a complicated task, but not difficult once learned.