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Unread 02-14-2017, 10:35 AM   #1
Jereponibus
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Washing a Dark Brotherhood catsuit

Hey, guys! Sorry for not making an introduction, but I don't really enjoy the message board scene. Anyway, (and I'm only posting this here cause I couldn't find a better place for this topic) I have a Dark Brotherhood costume I made by sewing on red patches of faux suede on a black spandex catsuit. Additionally, I decorated it with metal studs and drew on the Black Hand of Sithis with a sharpie permanent marker.

Anyway, I wore it once for a whole day to Rose City Comic-Con. However, since then, I have been wanting to wash it since then, but have been hesitant. I just know that putting in the washing machine would destroy it, so that's a no-go. I have thought about taking it to the dry cleaners, but I'm a little skeptical. Beyond that, the only other way I can wash it is literally by hand via a bucket of soapy water and one of those grater things like in the olden days.

It is still good to wear at the moment, despite having been worn once, so I plan to wear it to another convention very soon. I just want to know how I can best maintain and care for it is all. Any costume care advice would be much appreciated!
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Unread 02-14-2017, 10:54 AM   #2
Milky Bubbles
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With cosplay costumes I always say hand wash/spot-clean it no matter how big or how small the spot may be.
Usually it's just a lot safer to wash the costume yourself than trusting someone else to do it because at least if you mess it up, you know that you did it while if the costume gets messed up while at a dry cleaner's somewhere, you're just shit out of luck and get to make yourself a new costume. :<
So, for sure, do not take your costume to the dry cleaner's, especially since you telling them exactly what the fabric of it all is may only confuse them and since cosplay costumes don't have instructional tags on them, you'd only be causing yourself grief.

To keep my costumes as clean/safe as I can when I am not wearing them, I hang them up and then cover them with plastic of some kind like plastic garment bags. If I cannot hang up the costumes, I fold them as neatly as I can and keep them all separated in plastic totes so that stuff doesn't get mixed up!

You want to make sure that whatever you are washing your costume in is clean so that your costume doesn't just suck up the muck from what's it's surrounded by.

I am going to copy and paste something that Penlowe posted like 3 years ago in another forum asking the same thing:

Quote:
HOW TO HAND WASH GARMENTS:
- choose a washing basin appropriate to the size of your costume: a bit of room to move is best. A large kitchen bowl or sink is fine for most pants or skirts, a bathtub is necessary for ballgowns.

- make sure the basin you are using is clean. it doesn't have to sparkle but be sure it is free of other soap/ detergent, dirt, or food particles if you use the kitchen sink.

- cold or at least tepid water. I live where it's really hot, in the summer the water out of the tap is probably about 83 degrees, this is fine. anything cooler than body temperature will not do harm.

- put your detergent in the water and swish it around. Detergent specifically for delicate garments is best, Woolite is the old stand by.

- unfold or spread out the garment, place it in the water as un-mushed-up as possible. Push it down to squeeze out air pockets so the garment is fully immersed.

- Let the garment soak. How long depends on how dirty it is. 30 minutes is usually sufficient to remove sweat and ambient smells like smoke and food. I set a timer, otherwise I forget and wind up rushing through the next steps at bed time because the children need a bath.
= this is where you learn how colorfast your garment is. you will see the color in the water if it's bleeding. shorten your soak if that is the case.

- after the soak, I go in and carefully inspect the areas most likely or known to have accumulated dirt: hems, cuffs, front center of the chest. I scrub the fabric against itself or use a soft scrub brush (like a nail brush) and more detergent to work these spots. rinse in the soak water and repeat as necessary.
= this is where working in a large basin in the kitchen is more pleasant, sitting on your knees in the bathroom is. not. fun.

- if you are satisfied with the cleanliness, drain your basin and rinse your garment in clear running water. squeeze but do not wring to get the soap out. Some fabrics hold a lot of water and therefore soap, be patient, just keep squeezing til no more bubbles are produced.

- if you drain the basin and it still seems grungy, repeat with a fresh basin of water and soap, letting it soak longer if possible.

- stretchy (spandex, lycra, etc) and knitted/ crocheted/ lace garments should be dried laid on a flat surface. hanging a wet leotard is a good way to stretch it permanently out of shape. Spread a couple bath towels out on a large flat surface (dining room tables are a popular choice) and spread out the garment. don't fold it over itself, if possible. Lay arms and legs smooth, not wrinkled or twisted.

-non-stretch materials can be hung to dry. An old wire hangar bent into an oval (or other circular light weight item like a beach ball) can be propped inside the layers of a skirt at about the waist or hips to help speed the drying process for bulky garments like ballgowns by spreading out the fabrics and allowing better air circulation.

- always give yourself at least 24 hours between washing and packing it for travel or putting it away for the next time you wear it. mildew is nasty and does permanent damage to fabric and can happen amazingly fast if even a slightly damp item is packed tightly out of sight.
Here is a post about washing costumes and storage, which may also help you!
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Last edited by Milky Bubbles : 02-15-2017 at 06:49 AM.
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Unread 02-14-2017, 11:07 AM   #3
Jereponibus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Milky Bubbles View Post
With cosplay costumes I always say hand wash it no matter how big or how small the spot may be.
Usually it's just a lot safer to wash the costume yourself than trusting someone else to do it because at least if you mess it up, you know that you did it while if the costume gets messed up while at a dry cleaner's somewhere, you're just shit out of luck and get to make yourself a new costume. :<
So, for sure, do not take your costume to the dry cleaner's, especially since you telling them exactly what the fabric of it all is may only confuse them and since cosplay costumes don't have instructional tags on them, you'd only be causing yourself grief.

To keep my costumes as clean/safe as I can when I am not wearing them, I hang them up and then cover them with plastic of some kind like plastic garment bags. If I cannot hang up the costumes, I fold them as neatly as I can and keep them all separated in plastic totes so that stuff doesn't get mixed up!

You want to make sure that whatever you are washing your costume in is clean so that your costume doesn't just suck up the muck from what's it's surrounded by.

I am going to copy and paste something that Penlowe posted like 3 years ago in another forum asking the same thing:



Here is a post about washing costumes and storage, which may also help you!
Thank you so much for your help! I will admit that after RCCC I left it lying on my guest bed for quite some time (I admit that I can be pretty sloppy sometimes). After which, I then put it away in a drawer and left it there for months. I took it out this morning, smelled it, and came to the conclusion that it would still be good enough to wear to Wizard World Portland for this weekend. I did, however, went over it with a lint roller to collect any dust or allergen residue that may have been attached.

Anyway, I'll be sure to keep all these helpful tips in mind after this weekend, assuming it will need to be washed (a costume can only be worn for so long before it NEEDS to be washed). Again, thank you!
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Unread 02-14-2017, 12:05 PM   #4
Scunosi
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I would recommend handwashing most cosplay pieces, at least if they're not just regular clothes already. But I think you're going to have issues beyond just washing your clothes in the sink. You said you drew the sigils with Sharpie; unless that was specifically a fabric marker it's doubtful that'll survive a soak, and it could bleed on everything else. You've also got suede patches in there which need their own special cleaning methods from what I can tell. I'm thinking more than just handwashing alone you may need to just spot clean instead, that is just clean the specific areas that have any grime or goo and leave the rest alone other than some anti-bacterial Febreze.
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Unread 02-14-2017, 05:04 PM   #5
fabrickind
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Two other cleaning methods:

- This won't remove dirt, but it'll remove smell. Spray it with rubbing alcohol or vodka, let dry. Make sure the alcohol won't damage your materials (don't do this over your Sharpie especially). This can be good to refresh costumes that can't easily be washed (like boned corsets), since the alcohol kills the odor-causing bacteria. (Fun fact: sweat, in and of itself, is largely odorless, barring things like having just eaten a lot of garlic or curry or something. Sweat is a great breeding ground for all sorts of smelly bacteria, though, and that's what causes BO.)

- Lingerie detergents for handwashing. A lot of lingerie washes are non-rinse formulas, where you can simply place the item in the water with the detergent in it, soak, and then remove. You may still need to rub heavily soiled areas. This is meant to keep the most delicate of fabrics intact, since agitation causes fibers to break down, and despite the tiny amounts of detergent left in the clothing, is skin safe because it is meant to be worn in your most intimate (read: irritable) areas.


Since you mixed faux suede with the spandex, I don't see that as causing too many issues, since most faux suedes are made of the same stuff as regular fabrics. Real suede would require very different forms of care, as it is made of animal hide, but faux suede is usually polyester, and aside from making sure to not crush the fluffy fibers (which really isn't that big of a deal with this material as compared to something like velvet), requires very little special care. The Sharpie is the most concerning thing here, so you'll need to test a scrap before doing the whole thing. Water itself shouldn't harm it, but the detergents might. (I'd recommend redoing that piece with fabric paint instead if you are able.)

My recommendation? Spot clean the areas that need the most attention (sweaty areas like armpits and crotch) until you are able to redo the Sharpie area. After that, use the handwashing advice above.
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Unread 02-16-2017, 02:38 PM   #6
nathancarter
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Another vouch for the aforementioned instructions. I use our two-basin kitchen sink, and Woolite.

Depending on the material, you can speed the drying process:
After squeezing (not wringing) most of the water out of your garment, lay it out on your biggest colorfast beach towel or bath towel. Roll it up like a jelly roll, and squeeze it (don't wring it). Sit on it, kneel on it. Then unroll it, block it out to dry on a flat surface or drying rack, and smooth out any wrinkles introduced by the squeezing.

I wouldn't do this on any garment with a lot of built-in structure that will be crushed out of shape by the squeezing. But on things like sweaters and bodysuits it works well.


Protip: Washing wigs is very similar. Cool water, appropriate soap (shampoo and fabric softener for wigs), soak for a bit, swish around, rinse very thoroughly, squeeze out most of the water, lay flat or hang to dry. DO NOT BRUSH OR COMB until they're completely dry.
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Unread 02-17-2017, 08:29 AM   #7
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Thank you for digging up that old post, I had not bookmarked it Think I'll be putting it in long term saving by blogging it, that was pre-blog!
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