How to Wash Kimono? (Step-by-Step)

The kimono is a type of traditional clothing worn in many Asian countries, including Japan and Korea.

These garments are worn as robes, especially on special occasions.

Careful washing and drying are needed to keep a kimono in perfect shape and in its original shape.

how to wash kimono

In this article, you will learn what a kimono is and the simple methods or techniques to wash it with care.

What is a kimono?

A kimono, or a Japanese kimono, is a traditional robe-like outfit in Japan and a few neighboring nations.

Kimonos have been worn in Japan for hundreds of years and are seen as a sign of elegance and tradition.

It is decorated with intricate designs, such as dragonflies or flowers, over its surface, which makes it a special outfit.

The shape of the kimono depends on the size and shape of the person who wears it. There are also special designs for special occasions.

The kimono can be tailored according to the individual wearer with its wide variety of cuts, colors, and materials. It is usually paired with an Obi belt used to tie them to your body.

Some of the common types of kimonos are Uchikake, Iromuji, Furisode, Komon, Tsukesage, Shiromuku, etc.

Types of kimonos that can be washed

There are several types of kimono that qualify for either hand wash, machine wash, or both, depending on the fabric and instructions on the care label.

Kimonos made from cotton, silk, and linen are usually easy to care for.

Some kimonos are made from more expensive materials such as satin and brocade. These kimonos are more delicate and require more care when washing.

With all that said, here are a few types of kimonos that can be washed as long as the care label recommends it.

  • Kimonos made from cotton, wool, or synthetic fibers can be washed in a washing machine or by hand (read the care label beforehand to be on the safe side).
  • While kimonos made from silk and satin can be delicate, you can still wash them in a washing machine on a delicate cycle with cold water settings. However, it’s best to hand wash them.
  • In most cases, kimonos intended for everyday use can be laundered in either a washing machine or by hand.

Types of kimonos that should not be washed (or extra care needed)

If you are planning to store your kimono for a longer period of time, such as six months or more, silk kimonos and satin kimonos should not be cleaned with washing machines.

Rather, they should be cleaned in a bathtub with mild soap.

Here are a few types of kimonos that you shouldn’t wash since they can fade, shrink, and wear out faster.

Dyed Kimono

Kimonos that are dyed with natural dyes should be hand washed for best results. Hand washing keeps color fading to a minimum and gives you more control over the washing process.

Silk Kimono

Kimonos made of silk are delicate, and it’s always a good idea to hand wash them. Washing a silk kimono at high temperatures in a washing machine can cause the fabric to shrink.

Also, if you wash your silk sheets with a detergent with enzymes, they will wear out over time.

Shibori Kimono

In general, Shibori kimonos are made of hemp, silk, and cotton.

Just like silk kimonos, shibori kimonos are delicate and it’s recommended to hand wash them.

With that said, it’s best to get it washed by a professional as, at times, the dye may leak out.

Hand-washing is the last option, as even hand-washing may affect the fabric negatively.

Just take a quick look at the care label and you should be able to figure out the right approach to washing them.

Other Non-Washable Kimonos

Some other non-washable kimonos include ones with tons of handwork in the form of embroidery, weaving, and artwork.

If you want to keep the artwork intact and prevent some of those deeper creases from setting in, you should avoid the washing machine.

How to wash a kimono by hand?

Washing a kimono garment by hand is the most preferred method, especially when it is made using silk. 

You may also use the hand washing process for the other material types as it gives you complete control to clean them without causing any severe wear out.

Pretreat for any stains or excess soil

Step 1: Application Instructions (Utilize a fabric stain remover OR a mild detergent)

Add a few drops of stain remover or a mild liquid detergent.

Next, spread the cleaning solution over the fabric’s stained surface.

Then, put a few drops of water on the stain to make it damp and help the detergent work.

Leave it for a couple of minutes and again pour a few drops of water on the stained surface.

Note: Always use a stain remover that is suitable for your fabric type. Do not use harsh chemicals on soft surfaces, and do not scrub printed designs or fine embroidery.

Step 2: Gentle scrubbing

If the stain is closer to an embroidery-designed area or close to any prints, then simply use a sponge.

Start scrubbing gently over the surface and pouring water at regular intervals.

Step 3: Wipe the Surface

Now, using a damp cloth or the dry side of the sponge, wipe the surface gently.

Your kimono garment is now ready to go for a wash.

Tip: For heavily soiled kimono garments, you can soak them in a bucket filled with lukewarm water for 10 minutes. Then, swirl them around the bucket for a couple of minutes midway. This will help to loosen the excess soil. Next, rinse them with clean water to put them through a wash.

Hand washing a kimono garment

Step 1: Use a basin or sink

Fill a sink or a basin with cold, warm, or lukewarm water.

You can use your regular laundry bucket to wash your clothes.

Make sure your kimono garment fits with ample room inside.

Step 2: Add Detergent 

Add a mild detergent to the bucket and let it mix well. You can use a delicate or natural detergent in the wash process.

Using a non-chlorinated detergent should be ideal to wash these garments.

Step 3: Place the garment in the sink

Now place the kimono garment in the sink. Give it a gentle swirl to let it submerge in the solution and leave it for around 20 minutes.

Step 4: Gentle Agitation

Use your hands to gently agitate the garment for a couple of minutes.

Doing this will help to remove excess dirt from the clothing with ease.

Step 5: Rinse with clean water 

Rinse your kimono garment with clean water until the soap residue drains.

Step 6: Drying process

Do not wring the garments in a vigorous manner. Simply drain the excess water off the garments and hang them to air dry naturally.

Can you put a kimono in the washing machine?

As a best practice, you should just gently rinse your kimono garments in warm water and hang them to dry without wringing them.

If you want to put it in the washing machine, use a delicate cycle and turn it inside out before washing.

Kimonos made of cotton can be machine washed at less than 30 degrees Celsius. However, the kimono could potentially lose its shape if washed too vigorously in a standard cycle.

Extra care should be taken while washing kimonos made of wool.

In fact, if you need to machine wash your woolen kimono, it’s recommended that you do so using a detergent designed for wool.

How to wash a kimono in a washing machine?

It’s quite obvious that washing any clothing in a washer reduces your physical effort. 

But that does not mean all types of fabrics are safe in the washer.

Kimonos are delicate as they have printed designs, embroidery work, and dye that may easily fade and wear out.

Here are the steps to safely washing a kimono in a washing machine.

Step 1: Read the Care Label

Step 1 is universal for all types of fabrics.

It helps to choose the right approach to washing your clothes.

You should proceed with machine wash only if the care label recommends it.

Step 2: Sort your laundry

Sort your laundry as per fabric type because, in most cases, you won’t wash them alone in your washer.

Step 3: Add similar garments

Place your favorite kimono garment into the washtub.

Refrain from adding unsuitable fabrics, such as those that are prone to color bleeding or those that are bulky and heavily soiled.

For a kimono made from delicate silk with fine prints or embroidery, simply use a mesh laundry bag. This will prevent the fabric’s surface from getting damaged in the wash process.

Step 4: The Detergent Type

Use a mild or plant-based natural detergent and do not use any harsh chemicals or bleaching agents. You can add distilled white vinegar if you want for better results.

Step 5: Wash cycle

Select a suitable wash cycle program as per the available options in your washer’s menu. Preferred cycles for washing kimonos are:

  • Wash Type: Delicate OR Gentle cycle
  • Soil Level: Low
  • Spin Speed: Low
  • Water Temperature: Cold
  • Pre-Wash: Not recommended. Instead, pre-treat them by hand

Run the cycle and wait until it completes.

Note: If your washer allows you to set the spin speed, then simply set it to the lowest setting.

Step 6: Repeat Rinse

You can use the extra rinse cycle to remove excess soap residue from your kimono. It should be followed by a spin cycle with a low-speed setting.

Step 7: Drying Tips

They do not need any special treatment for drying, just hang them to air dry naturally.

When you take a kimono out of the washing machine, hang them so that excess water drains out, and then wrap them in a dry cloth, followed by gently rubbing the water out.

How do you wash a hand-painted kimono?

Hand-painted kimonos are prone to fading, so you must read the care label before deciding to wash them.

In general, hand-painted kimonos should be dry-cleaned only in order to preserve the paint job.

However, some hand-painted kimonos can also be washed by hand if the care label allows you to do so.

So, if the care label explicitly says “Dry Clean Only,” then you must stick to dry cleaning only (in most cases, it will be “Dry Clean Only”).

How do you wash a polyester kimono?

A polyester kimono can be washed in both the washing machine and by hand. However, polyester is a synthetic fiber, so you should wash it in cool or warm water to prevent it from degrading.

In most cases, the washing method will be clearly stated on the care label itself.

As a best practice, always hand wash your kimonos and either lay them flat to dry or hang them on a hanger to dry naturally.

Final Thoughts

The kimono is a popular garment in Japan and the countries surrounding it.

Because they are mostly worn on special occasions, it’s important to keep them looking new.

If your kimono garment happens to attract stains, then simply pretreat them before washing.

For better results, always clean them using cold or lukewarm water, and do not forget to use a mild detergent only.

Lastly, for delicate silk with fine prints or embroidery, simply use a mesh laundry bag if at all you decide to machine wash them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I dry clean a kimono?

Yes, you can dry clean your kimono because that method is safe for delicate items.

Is it OK to dry the kimono in a dryer?

It’s better if you dry them naturally. If you have a kimono made of cotton or linen, you may use a dryer. Make sure to look at the care labels of these outfits before putting your kimonos in the dryer. If you aren’t sure, then simply use a delicate cycle with a low or no heat setting.

Can you machine wash a silk kimono?

It’s best not to wash your silk kimono in a washing machine because it could damage the fabric and speed up wear and tear. In fact, even hand washing them without proper care can damage the fabric. Always check the care label before deciding on the washing approach.

Should you iron a kimono?

It’s not recommended to iron kimonos made of silk. However, if you do choose to iron it, dry iron the kimono at a low temperature by placing a small strip of cotton clothing on top of it.