Blog Author Hallie Rumsey-Lasersohn
Dance Teacher at Modern Motion and Professional Ballet Dancer
I learned the hard way that dancewear is delicate. I spent years throwing my dance clothes in with the rest of my laundry and not giving it a second thought. I thought I was saving myself time and effort but after numerous runs in tights, broken straps, shot elastic, torn seams, worn-out shoes, and a whole lot of wasted money, I decided to get serious about my dancewear care. With proper care, you can extend the life of your dance clothes tenfold. Seriously, I have leotards I have been wearing since high school that are still going strong. These tips will save you time, money, and keep your dance wardrobe looking good as new.
If you’re really dedicated to keeping your leotard, tights, dance shorts, and skirts fresh and tear-free then washing by hand is the way to go. I use Woolite Delicates and cold water. Scrub gently, soak for 30 minutes, and rinse. This prevents shrinking, fading, stretching, and any snags that might be caused by the washing machine. Hand-washing is a surefire way to keep your dancewear in top condition but let's face it, we don’t all have time to delicately massage our tights and leotards in a bubble bath each week. When I don’t have the time or energy, I turn leotards and shorts inside out, put my tights and skirts in a mesh laundry bag, and throw them in the washer. Make sure you wash with cold water on delicate. I suggest using an enzyme-based detergent. This will dissolve dirt without damaging the fabric. If you do get a run in your tights, don’t pull it! Instead, use a small amount of clear nail polish over the run to prevent further tearing.
This one is pretty straightforward. If there is one habit you should adopt to make your dance clothes last longer it’s air drying. The dryer is the number one culprit of wear and tear. Dancewear is made from thin material and will air-dry quickly, especially if you leave it in sunlight or near a heat source.
Canvas ballet shoes should be hand washed or machine washed on delicate in a mesh bag. Leather ballet, jazz, or tap shoes should be wiped down with a damp rag and or leather cleaner. Never put your dance shoes in the dryer. Try stuffing the shoes with paper towels or tissue paper to help them keep their shape while drying. If you air out your shoes after each use they will last much longer. It’s easy to throw your shoes in a sweaty dance bag and forget about them, but this will cause them to retain the moisture from your sweat and degrade quicker.
The Bottom Line
Dance requires specialized apparel that needs special care. Sure, you can throw everything in the washing machine and dryer and call it a day, but you’ll be shortening the life-span for these delicate and sometimes pricey pieces. Take good care of your dancewear and it will serve you well for years to come!
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