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How to Clean Your Costumes!

Sometimes our costumes can smell…well…not too fresh! Our costumes are made with delicate fabrics, vintage pieces or many rhinestones. So how do we wash them to remove those not-so-pleasant scents without ruining them?

There is a tried and true method that a lot of showgirls use to ditch the stink in their costumes. Vodka. Not just a drink, but an odor remover!

Christie Moeller states in her fashion blog “I learned this nifty trick of removing clothing odors with Vodka back in my Theater days, we used it all the time on costumes to get that “been around for decades, worn all night and sweated in by the entire cast” smell out. The alcohol works in pretty much the same way as sanitizing hand gels, killing odor-causing bacteria. Since vodka kills bacteria and dries odorless, when it evaporates so does the stink.”

The type or cost of the vodka does not matter, I would go about selecting something ‘bottom shelf’ that you wouldn’t necessarily drink and keep it just for cleaning purposes. But you may wish to grab your fav and have a little drink whilst you clean!

There are two methods you can use: *in a spray bottle (tried and true!) *In a steamer (I haven’t tried this method myself)

Vodka Spray Method

With this method, you’ll need to ensure that it’s high proof vodka as it’s the high alcohol content in the drink that gets the odour out. Step 1. Pour vodka into an empty spray bottle (vodka only, water will dilute the alcohol’s odour-removing power). Step 2. Spray away! For best results (and not to ruin delicate fabrics) I would also recommend a spray bottle that has an option for a fine mist rather than jet spray.

Vodka Steaming Method

This method is a bit of a double-whammy for odour; Not only does the Vodka kill bacteria, so too does the intense heat from the steam! Step 1. Fill your steamer with a half-and-half solution of vodka and water Step 2. Steam away!


I also hand wash certain items in my costume closet – particularly the gussets in knickers and g-strings. Step 1. Carefully only place the gusset under a stream of warm water Step 2. Rub a small amount of soap or Sard on the gusset area Step 3. Run it under the water again (you may need to rub the fabric together a little) Step 4. Hang it up to air dry You’ll find your knickers smelling a lot better without the rhinestones popping off.

For some more tips and reading on maintaining your costumes, check out Melbourne Theatre Company’s article here

I hope this information has been helpful and useful. What are your costume-cleaning tips? Leave a comment below!

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