One of the common things you hear from people when their barong requires cleaning is: “Let’s have this dry cleaned”.
Laundry shops do not often correct that. But they accept the barong anyway and return it cleaned and sanitized.
The truth of the matter is that it is simply impractical and unnecessary to use dry cleaning techniques on your delicate barong.
Allow me to explain first why you should insist on dry-cleaning your barong.
Dry cleaning is not the answer
Dry cleaning is cleaning technique where, instead of water to wash fabrics, one uses solvents. These solvents include perchloroethylene, or most widely known as perc, which is heavily accused as a ground water and air pollutant. Other dry cleaning solvents include synthetic petroleum, siloxane, hybrid glycol ether, pure liquid carbon dioxide, and many more.
Dry cleaning is only used when the fabric reacts badly to water. Barong’s fibers do not exhibit that characteristic. Therefore, not only is dry cleaning a barong expensive, but it can also risk damaging the delicate fibers of the cloth.
Washing your delicate soils
So how do you clean a barong?
You must understand that a barong’s fabric is organic and delicate. These have two implications on caring for clothes:
First, you must wash a barong after use, especially if you wore this during a celebration where food is involved. Protein and carbohydrate-rich stains from food are hotspots for microbes and insects, which will damage the fibers of the barong if you store them without washing after use. I recommend you line it up for washing immediately.
Second, delicate fabrics like that of a barong can unravel in the intensity of the mechanical action of a washer. Instead, use hand-wash techniques of soaking in detergent and rinsing thrice.
You must avoid scrubbing stains while washing the barong. If you need to, you can make use of a tooth brush and do so carefully, avoiding to damage the fabric.
Now, there is a type of barong called “Gusot Mayaman” which require the application of corn starch to keep its stiff form. (On the other hand, applying a fabric softener will soften your clothes.) Apply the pre-prepared corn starch on the last rinse. Do not squeeze to dry. Dry the barong by rolling it in a clean towel, which will absorb the moisture. Once quite dry, iron the barong.