One print that can never be out of vogue is the tie and dye fabrics popularly known as Adire in the Yoruba language. It is an early twentieth-century unique and distinct print popular in southwest Nigeria. At a point, it seems anyone who puts on adire or Kampala is an old school until in recent years when people now rock the print in different ways. This is due to new production methods and dazzling styles of these patterned fabrics.

Adire/Kampala to many people is a fabric that doesn’t stand the test of time. Many people believe that it is old after three to four washes. And of course, they are justified because they have proof. However, others say they cannot wear any other print for years like they do their adire. So, what’s the secret?

There are many prints out there that look like adire but they are not. Some fabric merchants can be confused as well not to talk of buyers. From texture to the dyes, production methods all affect the outcome of the fabric. How to differentiate between adire and similar prints is a topic for another day. 

Regardless of the method of production, the adire fabric needs to be taken care of as they are carefully handcrafted. They cannot be treated like other machine prints. How then do you care for your adire fabrics?

Fabrics that are used to produce adire all have their durability, and this tends to reduce once they are altered. This does not exclude cotton which is the most preferred fabric by adire producers. It is therefore imperative to put this into consideration and cut your adire some slack. After all, it’s been through an extra production.

Nonetheless, your adire fabrics can last for years when they are treated and cared for the right way. You do not have to break the bank, nor do you have to separate an entire day to care for your fabrics. Over 2 years of subjecting our fabric to various care processes, here are ten (10) proven ways to make your adire last longer

  • Avoid washing machines as much as possible. In the days of washing machines making our laundry easier and faster, it is quite tempting to add the adire fabrics in the machine for a quick wash. However, adire fabric production takes days and various steps before it came out beautifully, therefore, washing them should not be rushed. The volume of water used in cheaper washing machines is quite much and not in the best interest of your Adire fabrics. There is no way you wouldn’t wash other fabrics when using a washing machine and your Adire fabric stands the risk of being stained by other coloured fabrics.
  • In case you are thinking of the stress of hand washing your fabrics, the good news is that Adire washes easily, feels soft on your palms, and is less stressful, unlike plain fabrics. Except you find a way to navigate washing machine risks, stick with hand washing your Adire fabrics.
  • Use detergents. Growing up, we were often told to use bar soaps to wash African prints to avoid getting faded. Now, having studied and produced adire for years, I can authoritatively say those were ways of getting adire fade quick. What an irony! Use mild detergents to wash your adire and not bar soap.
  • Avoid soaking. In many homes, there’s a belief that soaking clothes before washing removes stains or reduces the energy to be exerted. This is however not true in the case of adire fabrics. If for whatsoever reason you want to soak your adire, it should not exceed two minutes and of course not with hot water.
  • Hand wash with care. Adire is one fabric I can say ‘is hand produced with love and care. They want to remain so, loved, and cared for. Machines cannot care for your adire fabric like you would using your hands which are gentle and well-articulated.
  • Spread out immediately after washing. If you watch traditional movies, you will see clothes spread out immediately after washing them by the stream. This is no rocket science; it is because piling and leaving the wet clothes to spread later makes the dye leach off or concentrate on a side of the cloth. Indeed, there are some things technologies cannot alter in our culture.
  • Separate from bleaching fabrics. Do not be tempted to wash or pile together other coloured or bleaching fabrics because your adire is also coloured. It will change the colour and property of your adire fabric. Treat each adire fabric differently. I will even advise you to wash each adire material separately.
  • Separate plain fabrics. With a new-found knowledge of washing different admire fabrics separately, plain fabrics whether coloured or white should also be separated. The colours can leach out and stain the other fabrics.
  • Wash with 300C or less. Avoid hot water wash even when the fabric has a stain. This can leach off the dye and make the fabric tardy.
  • Add vinegar. Not only does your kitchen love vinegar, but your adire fabric also loves it too in a little quantity at every wash. Vinegar is an addition to many soups and pastries. Its power is highly effective even on your fabrics. A tablespoon of vinegar and 1/8 teaspoon of salt can perform wonders.
  • Iron lightly. Do not use hot iron on your fabric as this can destroy the fabric and alter the original colours. Use warm temperatures around areas with prints to avoid melting the prints.