Taking care of your kilt is a crucial task in helping it to look its best, but chances are it is something that rarely crosses your mind. For many of us, the stresses of everyday life mean that correct kilt maintenance sits at the bottom of our to-do list, and this can result in your kilt looking tired, drab, and not up to scratch when it comes out for a special occasion.
The good news is that we have the tips and tricks you need to break this terrible habit and care for your kilt in the way it deserves. After all, you don’t want everyone judging you at that oh so crucial family wedding do you, or your kilt feeling neglected, abandoned, and running away from home in search of a better tomorrow?
The Types of Kilt
Before we get up close and personal with your kilt, you must identify just which type you are dealing with before cleaning. This should be obvious if you were the initial purchaser, but in some cases, you may find yourself inheriting a kilt, or receiving one as a gift.
The first choice to make is the tartan, and this is usually pre-determined by the family you are choosing to represent. Those of Scottish ancestry will have a particular clan tartan associated with their family surname, and this will make your choice a little easier. There are also tartans related to certain families in England, Ireland, and Wales, as well as further afield, so make sure you do your research.
In some cases, you can also choose a tartan based on personal aesthetic preference, and this gives you a little more freedom – perhaps too much choice in some cases! This freedom can be great if you are looking to fit into a particular look for a wedding or other significant occasion.
Once the tartan is selected, it is time to consider weight. Don’t worry; there’s no need to go on a crash diet! Different tartan fabrics have different weights, and this depends on the type of kilt you are looking for. The weight can also affect how clean or care for the kilt, so pay attention here.
At the top end, weighing in at whopping 19oz is the heaviest tartan, and this is generally reserved for ceremonial or regimental wear. These select engagements are a blessing – that is no small weight to carry around all day!\
One of the most popular options for a gentleman’s kilt is either 16oz or 17oz. This is heavy enough to sit correctly and swing authentically, without being overly heavy or cumbersome. These tend to be coated in Teflon, helping to remove the risk of staining or damage, and this makes these types of kilt easier to maintain and care for.
As we head down the ladder, we hit the 13oz medium weight kilts, and these tend to be reserved for Welsh and Irish national tartan choices, with around 1000 tartan print available at this weight.
As you can tell, there are plenty of options available when it comes to picking a kilt, and once you have your favorite, it is time to learn how to take proper care of it!
Caring For Your Kilt
The first consideration is to make sure that your kilt is stored correctly, as this will help to reduce any potential damage and make cleaning a simple task. It would be best if you hung your kilt, to keep the shape, and it is best to invest in a specific kilt hanger, like our Super Duper Kilt Hanger, to help take the weight without sagging.
Properly caring for your kilt will not only keep you from having to clean and press it as often, it will make your kilt last longer. A kilt is an investment, treat it like one.
Cleaning Your Kilt
Kilts are just like any other wool items of clothing. You must take special care to ensure they hold their shape and color. Heat and agitation are a big no-no when it comes to washing.
When it comes to cleaning your kilt, there is one secret weapon you may never have considered: the simple baby wipe! This wipe allows you to remove the worst of the stain without having to rub – this risks widening the stain and setting it to make it hard to move.
If you don’t have a wipe at hand, a trusty cloth, ensure it’s lint-free like linen, and warm water should be all you need. Similar to the baby wipe, gently dab the stain without rubbing in.
In some (rare) cases, you can use a spot cleaner. Double check that the cleaner is enzyme free and make sure you have tested the product on the inside of your kilt before using on a visible spot. The last thing you want is to mark or damage the tartan.
If you spill something on your kilt that is a bigger job than a wipe, deal with it immediately, before it has a chance to really set in. Take off the kilt and use a towel to dry the spill and address any stains at that time.
The discussion on dry cleaners is divided amongst advocates; if you do decide to outsource the cleaning, make sure your provider has plenty of experience in dealing with kilts! We do dry clean our kilts. Believe it or not, we only dry clean once a year!
We do not recommend washing your kilt. Heat and agitation are both bad for wool. Considering a washing machine relies on heated water and agitation to clean, you are best to steer clear of the machine.
Pressing Your Kilt
Pressing your kilt is the final stage, and is best achieved by wearing your kilt and standing in front of a mirror. This will give you a better idea of where the pleats naturally hang and will make pressing them back into place an easier task.
You then need to lay down the kilt on a flat surface such as the floor, and set the iron to an appropriate setting. Make sure there is not too much heat. Moisten a pressing cloth, and move the pleats into the correct position.
Next, baste the pleats by folding each crease to the proper line, and sew it loosely to the next crease along. Use a needle and thread to baste the pleat once at the hem, and once halfway up. This holds the pleat firmly in place so you can press accurately.
Once the pleats are all basted, lay the pressing cloth over the pleat area and place the iron over the covered kilt. You will need a little pressure to set the line.
Make your way around the entire kilt, before leaving the whole garment to cool completely without touching it – this allows the pleats to set correctly. Once cool, they should lie straight and flat – if there are irregularities, you can repeat the basting process as needed.
Learning to clean and press is a crucial part of kilt maintenance, and should become part of your routine as you wear the item.
Check Out The Celtic Croft
Here at The Celtic Croft, we have plenty of options to choose from – they are so beautiful, you won’t mind having to clean them every now and then.