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How to Wash a Leotard

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Considering the cost of leotards these days, it pays to take proper care of them so they will last as long as possible. Most leotards are made of delicate materials that need special attention. Throwing your leotard into the washer with a load of other clothes isn't the best idea. The following tips and guidelines should keep your dance leotards looking great for much longer.

Prepare the Leotard

Before you begin washing your leotard, take a few minutes to inspect it. Use the following checklist to get your leotard ready for cleaning.
  • Read the tag. Most leotards comes with a care tag with washing instructions. (If you tear out the tag be sure to save it for future reference.) Read the tag carefully as some leotards have special cleaning instructions.
  • Check for stains. Get into the habit of always checking for stains before washing your leotards. Stains need to be treated before the leotard is washed. If you find a stain, spot-clean it with a stain stick or gentle pre-washing liquid soap.
  • Inspect straps and adornments. Take a look at any metal strap clips, zippers, buttons or other fasteners. If you find a loose strap you will need to repair it before washing. If the leotard has rhinestones or other decorations, make sure each one is tightly attached before washing.
  • Turn inside-out. Always turn your leotards inside-out before washing them. Washing them with the outside protected will help to keep embellishments intact and colors brilliant.

Hand Wash

Even though the care tags on some leotards say they are safe for machine washing, it's still a safer option to hand-wash them. The fabrics often used to make leotards is delicate and the force of the washing machine may cause the leotard to fall apart. Don't assume that hand-washing will take a long time. Hand-washing leotards is actually quite simple, once you learn how.
  1. Prepare the water. Fill a clean sink or small bucket with cold water. Use enough water to submerge the entire leotard. Add a small amount of mild detergent.
  2. Gently squeeze the leotard. With your hands submerged in the water, try to gently squeeze the soapy water through the leotard. Just press the fabric between your hand. Don't scrub or rub the leotard fabric against itself.
  3. Soak if needed. If you are washing a very dirty leotard, you may want to allow a few minutes for soaking. The extra time under the soapy water will help loosen dirt or deodorant stains.
  4. Rinse in clean water. Hold the leotard under clear running water until all of the soap is removed. Do not wring the leotard. Simply remove the excess water by gently squeezing the leotard with a dry towel.

Machine Wash

Some leotards are safe for machine washing, usually simple leotards without embellishments. Follow the instructions for machine washing on the tag. Always use the gentle cycle of the washing machine, and promptly remove the leotard.

Drying

After carefully cleaning and rinsing the leotard, hang it up to dry. If you need to dry it quickly, it's usually safe to stick it in the dryer on very low heat. Remove the leotard promptly when dry.

Helpful Tips

  • Remove a wet, sweaty leotard as soon as possible. Removing the leotard will allow air to circulate through the fabric.
  • Washing your leotard with a bit of salt will help prevent fading.
  • Never use bleach when washing leotards, as it could harm the elastic.
  • Always wash dark-colored leotards separately.
  • Always hang-dry leotards if possible.
  • Children's leotards should be cared for in the same way as adult leotards.
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