This month on the blog, we’re giving you our best costume care advice to take the stress out of washing your costume.
We know you’ve spent time, energy, and money choosing the best flamenco dress for you, but how do you make sure your garment is fresh and ready for next season? If we have to pick one single piece of advice it’s this: don’t be afraid to wash your costume!
We know, we know! The thought of something going wrong and potentially ruining your costume is enough to make you want to ignore the stinky mess! But not cleaning your costume can potentially cause more damage than just the smell factor.
Perspiration and chemical residues like hair spray can promote wear and break down of specialty fabrics. The stretch fibers that make up your spandex fabrics can break down and lose their elasticity (think saggy swimsuit butt!)
So – the best thing you can do if you are going to wear a costume for more than a couple times? Launder your garment to promote longevity, and keep it sparkling fresh for another year – or more!
How to Wash Your Dance Costume in 5 Basic Steps
Ok, so how do you wash your dance costume, skating dress, or cheer uniform, you ask? Rest assured, you can easily do it yourself without risking damage to your costume. We worked with the experts in our laundry department to distill the process down to 5 simple steps, safe enough to use for most garments.
Step 1: Do Not Dry Clean
The thought of handing off the messy task to a professional seems enticing, but don’t even think about dry cleaning your costume! The chemicals used in the dry cleaning process, much like perspiration and hair spray, can actually damage specialty fabrics and adhesive applied finishes. Fabrics with a shiny or foil finish, spangles and sequins will all dull, reducing their sparkle factor. We’ve also heard a few horror stories of all of the rhinestones falling of a skate dress after dry-cleaning. Considering the amount of time and energy it takes to apply stones by hand, re-stoning is a task no one would want to repeat! Plus, you’ll save yourself some serious cash in dry cleaning fees!
Step 2: Spot Clean as Needed
Before washing, spot clean troublesome areas with a spot cleaner. It’s best to use a product that is gentle and won’t damage your specialty fabrics. We DON’T recommend Shout or other similar drug store products – they are too harsh and may leave permanent damage. The go-to choice for our in-house laundry team? Stain Remedy from Forever New. Looking for a DIY version? Our owner Deb makes her own special stain sauce, known to work some minor miracles! Combine one part Dawn dish soap with one part hydrogen peroxide, stir lightly to blend.
Before applying the spot cleaner, the most important thing to do is test your fabric! Apply the spot cleaner in a hidden area, like inside of the collar, or request a fabric swatch from us if you’d like to play it safe. Make sure the product you choose doesn’t alter the color of your fabric or dull shine.
Once you’ve determined your chosen product is safe, apply it directly to the stain with your fingertips. Let it soak for 2 minutes, and rinse with cold water.
Step 3: Hand Wash
Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves! It’s best to wash one garment before the rest, to ensure everything goes smoothly. Hand wash your garment in cold water with a small amount of mild soap. Again, using the right product is key here to ensure you don’t damage your uniform. Use a mild soap, such as Forever New. Don’t be fooled by Woolite though, it’s not actually a mild soap! We don’t recommend it.
Avoid color bleeding with a few simple tips: use cold water, don’t soak or leave your costume unattended while washing, and remove from the water promptly. Protect against further damage by avoiding abrasion: do not wring, rub or agitate your garment, and wash it inside-out if it has specialty items like rhinestones or spangles.
Finish this step by rinsing out the soap thoroughly with cold water.
One question we know is on your mind: Can I put my costume in the washing machine? Our owner, Deb, has been known to wash some garments in a washing machine, turned inside out, on the gentle cycle, and in a mesh garment wash bag. Warning: proceed with CARE! If you forget and leave the garment in the washer – even for a short period of time – be prepared to replace the garment!!! Even we have been absent minded enough to have made that costly mistake. This option should only be used with the gentle cycle, attending to the machine at all times!
Step 4: Hang to Dry
One of the worst things you could do to your spandex-based costume is to stick it in the dryer! Your spandex-based fabric is made up of elastic fibers, meaning it will shrink when exposed to heat! Definitely not fun. The heat from the dryer will also break down the elastic fibers – meaning your garment will lose its elasticity over time and stretch out.
The best drying technique? First, blot excess water from your garment by using towels. This may require using several towels! Second, make sure there isn’t any water dripping from the garment. Then hang to dry!
Step 5 – Steam & Store – but Never Iron
The best way to get any wrinkles out of your garment is to use a steamer! Whatever you do, don’t use an iron! Your specialty fabrics will melt if an iron is applied, leaving burn marks. Trust us, we’ve accidentally done it ourselves! But don’t worry, we’d never send a costume out to a customer this way 😉
Now onto storage. The best way to store your garments is to hang them, which will avoid further wrinkling. Most importantly, store them in a breathable container, like a old pillowcase. Avoid plastic or nylon garment bags – these will trap odors, letting them fester and grow (pee-ew!). And ALWAYS make sure your garments are dry before storing. Damp items will mold or mildew, and again, lead to a smelly mess. Also, store away from sunlight to prevent fading.
Hopefully this helps take away the anxiety of garment care – if you follow these 5 steps, you’ll have your garment “so fresh and so clean, clean” in no-time!
How to clean the flamenco dress
With the end of Holy Week, it is time to take in the Nazarene tunic (remember to clean it beforehand) and take out the flamenco dress to prepare for the April Fair, which this time it is in May. Next, we will give you some tips and steps to follow to clean the flamenco dress and take it as new to the Real of the Fair.
The ideal is to clean the suit always before storing it, since all the dirt that it has will grow more difficult to remove with the passage of time. Even so, if you have done this, it is likely that the suit is not impeccable and you have to give it a little clean up so that it remains unspotted.
Many people resort to dry cleaning for these cases, but it is not really necessary, since it is not too complicated and can be done perfectly at home. Also, by doing this, you can save some money, which it is always helpful.
General recommendations to clean the flamenco dress
As we said before, it is best to clean the flamenco dress as soon as possible. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions before doing anything, since they are the ones who know best how to treat the fabric and the dye of the suit.
In the event that the dress is torn by some part or you need to make a patch, it is best that you do it before you start to clean it, since in the process it may spoil even more unintentionally. You should also be careful with small details, such as jeweled embroidery or sequins. This is best washed by hand individually.
The last recommendation that you have to take into account before starting with the cleaning is to remove the petticoats, in the case that your suit has. This way you avoid any possible color transfer. Better safe than sorry.
How to wash the flamenco dress
Once all these steps are done, it’s time to start washing the flamenco dress. The first thing is to turn it over to put it into the washing machine. Put a glass of vinegar and a little salt in the drum, that will help to strengthen the colors and protect the tissues. With this mixture, you have to use a short pre-wash program without temperature.
Next, we will perform another wash, this time short and with cold water, adding a neutral liquid detergent for about 30 minutes. The last thing left to do is to centrifuge before taking it out. If you want to starch the suit, a good trick is to add a cup of sugar inside the softener box.
How to dry and iron the flamenco dress
Once finished, all that remains is for the suit to dry. It is best to do it outdoors and in a shady place. Hang it as it is, that is, inside out. It is not advisable to use the dryer in this type of garments.
The final step that remains for you to be ready to go to the Fair is to iron the suit. It is advisable to do it, once again, with the dress inside out. Do it at an average temperature in a normal way and then pass the iron through the flyers individually. If you want to know how to iron the flamenco dress in depth, you can read our recommendations here.
Following these easy tips you will have your flamenco dress as new to go to the Fair for another year without having to spend money or take it to any dry cleaners. Remember that once the Fair week has passed, you should clean it again so it does not get damaged too much. If you also wear a manila shawl, here we leave you the steps to follow to clean this delicate garment.
As for the way of keeping the flamenco dress, it is best to do it in a large enough cupboard so that it does not bend or wrinkle, and do it in an individual case or a garment bag to protect it as much as possible from the dust.