Most of us own at least one Banarsi saree in our special occasions wardrobe. Either passed on to us as family heirlooms or as a must-have item for weddings or festivals, Banarsi sarees are an integral part of our lives. Like all things beautiful, these Banarsi sarees too need special care to retain their lustre and quality over the years so that we may repeatedly relish wearing these creations. Here are a few handy tips to make sure your precious Banarsi sarees are your best companions for all those special moments in life.
Storage - The best way to keep these beauties is to store them in a cool, dry and dark place as exposure to moisture and sunlight can ruin them. Moisture will invite fungus into its folds and sunlight will fade its brilliant colours. It is best to wrap them in cotton muslin covers to not only protect them from getting dusty but to also allow the fabric to breathe and avoid build-up of moisture. Place silica gel sachets around the sarees to make sure any remnants of moisture in the environment is absorbed by them. All natural fibres are prone to attack from insects who can lay eggs within their folds, so do add mothballs camphor to the cupboards where you store them. Hanging them on hangers is ideal but with the kind of space constraint we have nowadays stacking them is the only choice. Make sure not to stack them with other materials and fabrics as their texture can get damaged.
Folding and Hanging care - Zari has metallic components, hence can break if the saree is repeatedly folded in the same pattern over the years. Even the silk gets a stubborn crease if folded at the same place over the years. So, keep changing the folds every time to ensure the saree remains supple. Also, fold the saree inside out to minimise chances of exposure to sunlight. Avoid hanging the saree on metal hangers as it can rust and leave stains. A smooth wooden or padded hanger, if possible, would be best for the sarees.
Cleaning - It is ideal to dry clean the Banarsi silk sarees as they are very sensitive to detergents which can fade and roughen their splendour. If you must wash them, then only use shampoos or preferably just water to rinse the sarees. Also, wash the borders first, and then the body, lest the colours run on washing. Also, new products like protein detergents and chemical free organic detergents can also be used if you must wash them. Please make sure to wash the saree at room temperature water and not warm water as it can harm them. Do not dry them in direct sunlight but in the shade. Do not wring and dry the saree nor bundle up when damp for long as permanent creases might appear on the saree.
Stains - Try spot stain removal before washing or dry cleaning immediately as they appear to avoid them setting in. For grease stains, sprinkle talcum powder on the patch to soak in the grease before dry cleaning or washing. Try a protein spot remover for juice, tea, blood, and other food stains.
Ironing – Use the lowest setting on your iron for your silk sarees as silk and zari can’t tolerate high temperatures. If you can place a soft cotton cloth over the saree and iron over it, you will be sure of not burning the saree or damaging the zari.
Smell – Since you intend to keep your Banarsi forever, you have to make sure they do not develop a musty smell over time. Keep sachets of your favourite dried flowers and herbs where they are stored to impart a gentle fragrance to their folds. Air them in the shade occasionally to add freshness. Do not spray perfume directly on to your saree when wearing them as it will leave a stain on the silk and may make the zari dark and dull.
Our traditional handlooms are our legacies into the future of a rapidly dwindling skill. Take care of your Banarsi and pass it on to your daughters and younger women in the family to link the past and the future. To buy one now, click here.