Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cleaning a Corset

I'm not the only one that does spring cleaning, am I? I certainly hope not. It's a fantastic way to shake off some of the left over winter blues and prepare for the long, warm months ahead. Yes, it's only March, but with the eighty degree weather here in Maryland, I've been thinking about spring cleaning a lot more. So, in light of that, I thought I'd give you guys a little guide that I certainly wish I'd had a while ago. That is, I'm going to give some pointers on how to clean a corset.

Corsets are not necessarily garments that most people think to wash regularly. And, honestly, unless you're wearing your corset very often, you don't need to wash it all the time. If you want to prevent odor, hanging your corset to air out is often recommended, but that does not require serious washing.

However, even if you're extremely careful, accidents can happen and your corset can get something spilled on it or get otherwise grimy. But, luckily, it's not all that hard to clean the corset. I say this as a blanket statement beforehand: dry cleaning is the best option, if you can find a good dry cleaner. However, since that's not always possible, here is what has worked best for me:

For general materials, the first thing you need to do is use a stain stick (such as a Tide To-Go pen). Preferably, this would be in your purse. The only reason that your corset could not have one of these stain sticks used on it would be if the fabric itself could be damaged by the chemicals in the stick. This might be something to consider before getting the corset, but being as it might already be too late, it's a generally safe assumption that most corsets can withstand a stain stick.

Then, when you get home, apply a damp washcloth or other rag to the dirty area. The rag should not be sopping wet, just a little damp. Press in with the rag, do not rub in circles, and lift off. If the dirt is not coming off, apply a little bit of a very mild (preferably baby) shampoo. The shampoo should be worked into a lather in your washcloth or rag, not on the corset itself. If even that doesn't work, corset blog Bridges on the Body suggests "sudsing some liquid Tide up in a bowl with lukewarm water, then putting the foam on the dirty spots... [then adding] more foam, then gently scrubb[ing] what remained with [a] toothbrush." Continue to do this until the dirt is removed.

White corsets may be more difficult to clean, since stains in white fabrics stick tend to stick around. We might think to bleach the corset, but most delicate fabrics cannot stand up to the "dose" of bleach which would remove a stain on white cloth, so only use bleach if your corset is made of a heavy-duty cotton or linen (and stay away from the metal bits with the bleach.) If your corset is delicate, try to sponge off the dirt as best as you can, but I don't have any tips for how else to help. I've heard people having various degrees of luck in dyeing over a stain, but the results vary on that one.

Fully immersing a corset in water is not a good idea. Any metal fixtures, including the boning, grommets, etc. can become rusted and will break more easily. However, you can rinse sections of your corset away from the boning and metal bits. Rinsing in cold water will produce the best results.

But what about drying? You can't exactly put the corset in a dryer, can you? No, but you do have a few options. Putting the corset in a shaded area (so as not to fade the color) to dry would work, but others prefer to blot-dry with a towel as much as possible. One widely suggested thing by corset owners is to put your corset on at some time during the drying process. This is supposed to allow your corset to mold to fit you while it dries, improving the fit. However, it is not necessary if you prefer not to wear damp clothing.

How do you wash your corset, dear followers? Do you have any tips?


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