Caring For Your Ankara

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African wax prints, Dutch wax prints or Ankara, are omnipresent and common materials for clothing in West Africa and Central Africa. They were introduced to West and Central Africans by Dutch merchants during the 19th century, who took inspiration from native Indonesian designs

Aso-ebi gangs love the fabric for its bright colours and beautiful designs, it’s the favourite choice for ceremonies and special occasions. However, what most people don’t know is that because of the way it’s made, washing Ankara clothes can be pretty stressful.

If you don’t treat your Ankara right, it can quickly lose all its great colour and look faded and worn out in a short period. Let’s look at some ways your Ankara might be getting bad treatment, but before then, a little dive into its origins.

Most Nigerians don’t know Ankara didn’t originate in Africa. This fabric technique originated in the Asian country of Indonesia and was introduced to Africa through European traders.

Ankara is made from a wax-resist dyeing technique called batik. The plain fabric is gotten and then waxed. Candle wax is used to map out the design, and then the fabric is tied with special ropes and dipped in dye.

Once it’s properly dyed. It is brought out to dry and the wax will be removed. This is why it’s also called “Holland Wax” or “Dutch Wax.”

Ways You Might Be Washing Your Ankara Wrong

Soaking in Hot Water

Many people assume that soaking your dirty clothes in boiling water will help to reduce dirt and germs. This is largely untrue. Most of the time, the hot water damages the strength of the fabric and causes it to fade instead of making it cleaner.

Ankara is mainly made of cotton fabric and so, can be very susceptible to fading and weakening. The dye used to make the beautiful patterns will also wash off when it is subjected to high heat. Soak and wash your Ankara with cold or warm water. Your clothes will thank you.

Not Using A Dry Cleaner

It is always best to dry clean your Ankara because the dry cleaners will care for the clothes as it was meant to be washed. They will pay attention to the care label and treat the fabric accordingly.

Washing Frequently 

Your Ankara isn’t supposed to be washed after every wear. You can wash it after two to three wears or even more, depending on the conditions in which you wore it. If you wore it to a party, danced and sweated a lot, you might need to wash it more urgently than if you just wore it to church. Washing frequently makes your Ankara lose colour faster.

Detergent Over Bar Soap

Many people make the mistake of washing Ankara clothes with detergent and other harsh cleaning products. Most of these detergents weaken the fabric structure and lead to fading. Bar soaps are usually less harsh and should be used on all your colourful fabrics.

Using Your Spin Dryer

Ankara doesn’t need to be spun and tossed after washing. You can simply hang it and dry it immediately. The heat of dryers isn’t great for the fabric and can cause it to shrink over time. If you’ve been putting your Ankara in the dryer, it’s time to stop.

Drying in The Sun

As we mentioned earlier, Ankara doesn’t need a lot of heat. Direct sunlight can also cause the fabric to fade and look old in a short time. After washing, your Ankara should be air-dried under a shade. Avoid direct sunlight and just let the air remove all the moisture.

Ironing

Your Ankara should be ironed inside out to make it last longer. Iron on medium or low heat too to keep the colours of the print intact. Just like with the sun, the heat of the iron can gradually cause your fabric to lose colour.

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