How to clean your fancy dress costumes – smart tips to keep them in top condition

 |&nbspTips and Advice

After an unforgettable party or an amazing Halloween trick or treating, you have an important thing to know: how to clean your fancy dress costumes and keep them in top condition for the next fancy dress party. I know, it is the last thing you want to do after a party, but this will save your wallet from extra unnecessary expenses and yourself time and frustration.

Your daughter’s fabulous Princess Elsa from Frozen outfit might be a little bit sticky from all the sweets eaten that night, which will definitely not smell very nice if they stay there for long.

It might even be your son’s Spiderman’s costume, which is covered with fake blood, such a nightmare to get rid of.

Or your flashy costume that followed you and your crazy moves all night on the dance floor, might have a cocktail of random drinks spilt on it. And there is nothing worse than the smell of alcohol left on clothes for a long period.

Usually, most of the fancy dress costumes are made of synthetic fabrics, which means that they can be a bit expensive for you to throw them to the bin instead of washing them.

You don’t have to worry about it because I have the best tips to keep your fancy dress costumes spotless, in top condition, ready for the next party.


Before you throw it in the linen basket, read the label

From experience, most of these outfits need to be hand washed or dry-cleaned, which will be clearly stated on the label.

Here, you can find all the definitions of all the laundry symbols:

In case your costume can be washed in the washing machine, you are one of the lucky ones! Just be sensible when choosing the wash cycle and the temperature, as these fabrics are delicate in general. Also, a very good tactic is to use similar colors to the best possible level because this will save you from unexpected and really disappointing dye transfer.

Smart tip for washing fancy dress costumes in the washing machine: wash them on a 30-degree delicates/wool cycle and just to be on the safe side pop them in a pillowcase.


Act immediately, don’t leave stains forever

The golden rule when it comes to stains on your fancy dress costume is: the sooner you deal with it, the cleaner.

No-one will ask you to start dealing with a stain as soon as it happens, in the middle of the party on the dance floor, pulling your Grease-style dance moves. Or when your little kid drops some juice on the costume after receiving it as a treat outside your neighbor’s door. Don’t panic!

What I advise is that as soon as you get back home, given your condition (having a few extra drinks might not be the best scenario for this), deal straight-away with the unpleasant stain. If you know what trick to use for this specific stain, you are a winner. If not, the best thing to do is to search for the best tips in google or YouTube. There is definitely a trick for every stubborn stain out there.


How to remove the most common stains

Ink: when your costume gets the awful ink stain from pen or markers, the solution is the hairspray. The alcohol contained in the spray solution is the perfect material to remove the ink from the fabric. How it works: just spray directly the stain, let it work for around 30 seconds and then you just need to wipe it with a damp piece of cloth.

Grease: a sprinkle of baking soda is what you are looking for when you have a stain from grease. Baking sod is known to be highly absorbent and when applied on the grease stain, it will help to remove it.


Chocolate: when your costume will get the chocolate stain, there is a smart tip; do not add hot water, it will make the stain stay there forever. What you need to do is to put your piece of costume which has the stain in a plastic bag and then in the fridge. All you have to do is to leave it there for a while until the chocolate stain becomes hard enough. When hardened, you just need to scrape it off with a knife or a spoon. This way, the biggest part of the stain will have been removed and it’ll be easier to remove the rest after washing it properly in your washing machine.

Blood: such a tough stain to deal with. Don’t panic in the view of a blood stain! Just rinse the stained part of your costume with cold water only, if you use hot water it will help the stain to expand. Then you can use the right way to wash it. In case it will be long until you can use a wash it properly, the best way to deal with a blood stain is to rub the affected point with toothpaste, which will help to break down the blood stain.

Tomato sauce: lemon is the magic here. Lemon having high natural acidity, can cut through the oil in the sauce. All you need to do is to rub a lemon cut in half over the tomato sauce stain and then flush it with loads of water.

Red wine: such a joy to drink, such a nightmare as a stain on your fancy dress costume. But there is a solution to it: start by blotting the stain with some white wine to help it neutralise. After this, you need to sprinkle some table salt on the stain to absorb the moisture. When you have done all the steps above, you re ready to wash your costume properly.

Coffee & Tea: don’t worry about a coffee or tea spillage on your costume. Before you go and make yourself the next cuppa, apart from making sure this doesn’t end on your costume, all you have to do is to mix one part of white wine vinegar with three parts of water. Apply this on the stain with a sponge and enjoy your next cuppa!


General useful tip: always dab the stain from behind it, which is usually from inside the garment. Then place it facing down on a towel dry so the stain will leech out of the fabric, rather than further into it.


Always dry your costumes flat

I know for fact that you don’t want your fancy dress costumes to pull and stretch after drying them. So, don’t hang them to dry, especially over chairs and washing lines.

What you need to do is to dry them flat. And if you can use a drying board with holes, you’ll get the best results because this will let the water drain away and allow sufficient air circulation. You can use a towel instead if you don’t have this drying board.

Then you just need to turn sides every 1-2 hours to allow the costume dry on both sides, which will also help to avoid the nasty smell you get when the clothes haven’t dried properly and have stayed a bit longer with the moisture in them (I hate this smell!)


Let’s do it, let’s hand wash

Hand wash: what a scary word for most of us!

But believe me it’s not. You just need 4 basic ingredients for this recipe: a tub or sink, water, detergent and a small amount of patience. That’s it!

You firstly fill your tub or sink with lukewarm water and then add the amount of detergent specified in the directions to use on the packaging. Talking about detergent, you have 2 options: you can either use a mild generic detergent or even better a special hand-wash detergent which is quite gentle for even the most delicate fabrics. But my advice is to use a colorless detergent to prevent any unwanted stains.

When you have done the first step, the real fun begins. You soak the costume in the tub or sink for some minutes and then you start to agitate it gently. The best technic is to swish it from one side to the other or just swirl it around, but never rub it together as it might destroy your delicate costume.

Wise advice is not to overload the tub or sink with too many garments as they will finally not wash properly and you’ll waste your precious time. If a stain is a real stubborn one, just leave your costume to soak for a bit longer and also change the water before you are ready to start sluicing.

Now, we have reached the final stage. You have to remove the water and start rinsing the costume with lukewarm water. When you are happy that all the water-detergent solution has been completely rinsed away, you lay them to dry flat in the ways we discussed a few paragraphs above.

That’s it, job done. Well done to you!


Visit the dry-cleaners

Using a dry-cleaner is a great option because, apart from the fact that they have professional experience on dealing with cleaning these type of clothes, they are using specific chemicals and processes specifically designed for washing delicate fabrics. This means that they can break down a red wine stain without damaging the fabric and leaving any mark afterwards. The main downside of this choice is that it might be a bit expensive and sometimes this cost is higher than the actual costume…


I can definitely say that cleaning your costumes shouldn’t stress you out for any reason. Just choose the right way for you, follow the instructions and you are ready for the next party with your nice and clean costume!


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