Cosplay is cumbersome…while cosplaying equates to suffering, we’d put ourselves through anything to show our love for the characters we adore.
However, their outfits don’t always love us back the way we do. Illustrated or modeled character designs don’t always translate 1:1 to the real world, so it’s a huge challenge to design cosplay that’s wearable while also looking accurate to the character.
On top of that – wear and tear is a part of cosplaying that affects the longevity of a costume and how good we’ll continue to look after wearing one repeatedly. Some cosplays have a shorter lifespan than others – not only depending on the material, craftsmanship and quality of the garments – but also HOW it’s worn.
But an even bigger challenge: keeping and maintaining our cosplays.
For many cosplays (excluding armour and builds), they deteriorate just like regular clothes. Pieces that hang low to the ground have a higher likelihood of being stepped on and ripped, while pieces that touch our skin can get stained with sweat or makeup. Not to mention the other risks of spilling stuff onto our cosplays or bumping into things while they’re being worn. And con funk!
You might be thinking, “Why don’t I just throw on my cosplay in the washing machine and be done with it?”
With some cosplays being super elaborate with intricate details such as embroidery, sequins or beads, tossing them in the washing machine would be a nightmare. But not washing your cosplay results in stains setting into the fabric or an unpleasant odour from sweat that never got washed off. Especially during the summer, not washing your cosplays and putting them away is probably equivalent to sticking sweaty gym clothes back into your closet. Ew.
Some items can be washed normally, like pants, jackets or anything that’s not particularly delicate. For those items that can’t, I will be sharing with you some tips that I personally find helpful to extend the life of your cosplays, and keeping them in wearable (and fresh-smelling) condition for as long as possible.
Lisiantha’s tips on cosplay care and cleaning (and removing con funk(
1.Expensive method – Dry cleaning is an option if either your cosplay is super delicate or the fabric can’t be washed conventionally. This will guarantee the con funk will be gone! However, dry cleaning can be costly depending on the amount of clothing and the delicacy of the material. Also, some people with sensitive skin may react to the chemicals that are used to clean the fabric. –cough-ME-cough-. Timing is also important for dry cleaning; you have to really plan out to make sure your cosplay is ready to be worn by the next shoot or event, as dry cleaning can take up to a week.
2. Okay Method – Steam cleaning is another option. This involves buying a handheld steamer and steaming the fabric. The hot steam loosens up the fibres of the fabric so the dirt and oil is released. This is the same way they clean upholstery and carpets. Steam cleaning can get tricky if you aren’t able to remove the oil and dirt that’s supposed to get released from the garments; it doesn’t always work. As well, some fabrics are also heat-sensitive so this may not be an option if your fabric is prone to melting.
3. BEST METHOD – Hand-washing. This is my method of choice, because it keeps my cosplays clean and looking new. And because I’m washing my outfits with my own hands, I know exactly how gentle I’m being with them, so as not to tear seams or destroy the details. And you can smell the con funk going away!
I will provide a detailed guide on how I hand-wash my cosplays so read on if you’re interested!
Lisiantha’s Hand-Washing Tutorial to get rid of con funk
1.Get a plastic basin big enough to soak your garments with enough room to move them around. Fill it with lukewarm water, so that it’s not too hot to melt fabrics and not too cold to be punishing on your hands.
2. Add a small amount of laundry soap, liquid or powder both work. (DO NOT USE A TIDE POD. They are waaaaay too concentrated.) Swirl the detergent around to dissolve in the water.
3. Add in your cosplay garment and soak it thoroughly. Gently work the soapy liquid into the fabric with your hands. Don’t scrub it hard; just work it around so that the dirt and oil are released. Pictured: My Violet Evergarden dress.
4. Focus on areas that sweat and dirt tend to accumulate, such as around the collar, the edges of the sleeves and the armpits.
5. When you’re done, set the soapy garment aside in a different basin and use the water for subsequent garments. ALWAYS WORK FROM LIGHT TO DARK. Dark fabrics bleed, so if you make the water full of fabric dye at the beginning, the dark dye will bleed into white or lighter fabric. For heavily bleeding fabrics, place dark and light fabrics in different basins.
6. When you’re ready to rinse, fill the basin with water again and swirl the fabric until the soap rinses out. You may need to repeat a couple of times by draining the water and adding new water if the garments are extra soapy. You don’t need to wring, just gently squeeze out the excess water and set aside in a basin. If the dark fabrics are prone to bleeding, set them in a different basin than the lights.
7. Optional: Fill the basin with water again, and add a small bit of fabric softener. Swirl the garments around a bit and set them aside. Remember, always work from light to dark. This helps eliminate static and stiffening, while also making your cosplays smell wonderful.
8. Now your clothes are ready to be spun by the washing machine. Be sure to set the washing machine to “delicates” (or the lightest setting); do not use the regular washing cycle! This is safe, especially if you set it to the delicates option on the machine. Machine washing is rough because the clothes rub up against each other and twist during the cycle. But in this case, we bypassed the wash and rinse by selecting the delicates option. The spin part will get rid of excess water, without the garments rubbing against each other. Put delicates and small objects in a laundry bag. Pictured: My bows from my Homura Akemi cosplay. I also put my Violet Evergarden dress in a bag so it doesn’t get stretched during the spin.
9. After the rinse cycle has finished, I like to hang my cosplays to dry on a rack. Some delicate knits may require you to lay them flat to dry, which you can also do. The spin has eliminated excess water, so water won’t make them heavy and drag them out of shape. They also dry very fast, which is very convenient for quick storage! Also it saves on electricity because I don’t like using the dryer very much.
Once dry you can fold your cosplays back up, or hang them to store. I prefer to store mine in bags just because it’s easy for me to pack up when I’m taking them to a convention or shoot, and it also saves on space. Feel free to adjust any of the steps to best suit your needs! Sometimes a dark and light fabric sewn together can cause bleeding. If any bleeding occurs, rinse with copious amounts of water and spin promptly to avoid dripping of the dyed water.
Some additional tips:
- Opt for magnets instead of safety pins to fasten bows and accessories to your outfits. Safety pins can pull and stretch the fabric, and may leave holes.
- Wear undershirts and undergarments if you can, as a barrier between your skin and the cosplay, so as to avoid sweat stains.
- Minimize dragging your cosplays on the ground if they are long. Pick up long dresses and gowns when you’re walking and set them down for short durations only, such as shoots and photos.
- Take care of stains promptly; if you get a stain, don’t rub it in. Treat it as soon as you can with some baking soda, or water if needed.
Do you have any tips for caring for your cosplays or getting rid of con funk? Let me know in the comments!