Can I safely dry clean a Bolivian manta?

by Claudia Gerst
(Berkeley, Calfiornia)

I bought a beautiful old Bolivian "manta" from Tarabuco just a week ago on my trip to Bolivia. I believe it is 100% wool. It is somewhat soiled in the center, and I wonder if it is okay to have it dry cleaned. Is there any type of dry cleaning that is better and safer? I tried uploading a photo, but for some reason, it is not working.

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Feb 23, 2010
dry cleaning Bolivian wool mantas
by: BoliviaBella

Hi Claudia. When I lived in the US I used to dry clean everything that was alpaca, sheep or llama wool including decorative mantas, sweaters, aguayos, table runners and such. I never had a problem. You need to tell the dry cleaner it's 100% wool and probably not pre-shrunk wool. Having not seen your manta I'm unsure what wool it might be. You should also tell them the colors may run. If it's a handmade manta, not factory made, the coloring used for the wool is often organic and could fade easily. Occasionally the wool smelled like chemicals after returning from the dry cleaner.

Another option is to handwash in cool water (not even lukewarm) with Woolite. Just soak it for a while then gently press the water out - don't wring it. If you have a sweater dryer (one of those nets people use to dry sweaters flat) you can dry it flat. I don't recommend hanging because it can stretch or will get a crease. Don't dry in the sun. Shade or indoors is best. Depending on the thickness, it could take a long time to dry.

Your best bet is to dry clean if the soiled section doesn't come clean because using a scrubbing brush or other such thing could damage it. Whatever you do don't put it in the dryer at any temperature. I once mistakenly dried an alpaca sweater (men's size XL). When it came out it was about a child size 6. ;-)


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