The Armchair Liturgist: Drycleaning Vestments

Just a curious question for those with experience: how often would you dryclean clergy vestments? I’ll confess this is a gap in my liturgical know-how. Most guys I’ve worked for took care of them on their own. But now I’m setting up a schedule with a parishioner willing to oversee this for clergy permanent and transitory. Would you do the ordinary green vestments twice a year? Any need to run the purples and whites more than once?

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Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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9 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Drycleaning Vestments

  1. Marilyn says:

    We don’t have vestments drycleaned unless there is an obvious need such as charcoal, oil, Easter lily dust from the liturgy, etc. At the beginning of a liturgical season, however, we have a parishioner who owns a good steam-iron…a drycleaner can also steam-press…and then covering these vestments on hangers when the season ends to keep the dust at bay. Ours are now in cedar cabinets so we don’t really worry about moths. A steam-iron would be a good investment if a sacristan doesn’t own one…we use it also for the lengthy banners draped seasonally behind the crucifix.

  2. Liam says:

    I am not an expert, but dirt is not the only issue for fabrics: dust is also. I would think you would want to clean dust off at least once a year if you don’t keep the vestments in clothing bags…

    In my experience, it is albs that need cleaning with frequency, especially in the warmer part of the year.

  3. Anne says:

    In between infrequent dry-cleaning, it can’t hurt to spray with a little Febreze and toss in the dryer on low. Something I do often with my things. Works great.

  4. Steven says:

    Dirt is the enemy of fabrics. Dry cleaning actually helps extend the life of garments by removing oils and other soil that eventually break down the fibers. Clean as often as necessary to keep your vestments looking new.

  5. Michael E. Lawrence says:

    Make sure you take the vestments to a good, experienced dry cleaner. I once knew a priest who was very tall and therefore had his own set of chasubles, which were bigger than normal. One time a few of them came back from the cleaners about 1/3 their original size…

  6. Judy says:

    Is it necessary for the dry cleaner to be Catholic when having vestments cleaned?

      • Judy says:

        Me too actually but our new priest suggested it should done by a Catholic agency. I’d never heard of it as a necessity before. Thanks.

      • Todd says:

        In your pastor’s defense, I might add that perhaps he would prefer that a parishioner’s business be utilized. One priest I worked with wasn’t hyper about it, but he said that if we staff prioritized bulletin advertisers, parishioners, the local religious goods store, and other Catholics in the city, he didn’t mind if we paid a bit more out of our budget.

        The other consideration with vestments is that a Catholic might be able to treat a stain from the Precious Blood in an appropriate way. I know nothing about dry-cleaning, but I suppose that even without a sacrarium, this could be done fairly easily and with reverence.

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