Washing your ballroom or latin dress often feels like risky business but this feeling can be amplified if your dress is covered in feathers. Many questions arise when the dreaded feather is placed upon a dress.. Do I wet the feathers? How can I avoid them? If they do get wet is that it? Is the dress dead!? Well never fear as I’ve created this blog post to help answer some of those very questions and also to help shed a little light on getting your dress back to squeaky clean. I’m currently wearing a feathered dress and have worn a few other feathered dresses in the past too. Some of my previous dresses had the whole ballroom skirt covered in ostrich feathers. Expensive and fragile! Back then I learnt that if you wet the feathers the dye in them RUNS. I also learnt that if you have two different tones of feathers on one skirt (ie. light to dark) and you dunk them all in a bath, the darker dyed feathers will most definitely run colour into the water/lighter feathers hence leaving you with one medium-ish colour all over. #LIVEANDLEARN. So nowadays I go by the motto of ‘keep the feathers dry’. It’s easier said than done I know, but with these 5 simple steps hopefully you should be able to get the job done 🙂
Before I start I just want to say that if at any stage you happen to get any feathers wet then that’s it. The dress is good for the bin. HA! Joking! Seriously don’t stress. Think of a little birdie having a bath and remember it will dry back to it’s fluffy self so all is good! I just don’t recommend fully drenching the feathers ie. stuffing them in a bath and letting them swoosh around in there. That could be asking for trouble! But alas, if any do get wet, wait until Step 4 and just hit them with a hair dryer and they will floof back to normal in no time.
If you have any feathers on the sleeves or floats like I do, try and waterproof them. I like to grab a plastic bag and pop both floats in there and either tie the bag in a knot or secure with an elastic band just so no water can accidentally splash in. You can do the same for any other feathered parts on your dress if you like but if you are dealing with a large, multi boa-ed skirt like I am then I wouldn’t really bother as it won’t all fit into one bag. I just choose to leave the bottom end of the skirt hanging off the basin (see photos below).
Wash the torso, sleeves, leotard and as much of the skirt as possible as normal in a tub or sink. If you want to see my previous post on how to wash a ballroom dress then click here to get a bit more of a detailed version. I mix luke warm water with some normal washing liquid and I spray Vanish Oxi-Action (pink bottle) directly onto the dress on areas like the under arms and the leotard and I attack any tough stains with the Vanish soap bar making sure to really work it up to a lather using my hands and rubbing the material together old school washing style! These two products are my go-to’s for washing ballroom dresses and I would not even attempt to wash a dress (properly!) without them. In Australia you can get them from any Woolworths or Coles and I imagine they are quite easy to find in any country 🙂
Drain away the dirty water and refill the sink/tub with only cold water and give the washed areas a good rinse. Not only does this help to get rid of any excess product still left on the dress it really helps to re-harden any glue that may have softened in the warm water. After rinsing, drain that water away and squeeze out any excess water in the dress.
Now, normally I would say to chuck the dress in the washing machine for a good old spin cycle but spin+feathers=drama. We don’t want no drama. So instead grab a towel and give the dress a bit of a towel dry before wrapping it up in the towel and transferring it to somewhere out of the way. Lay the dress out flat on top of the towel. For the sake of the photos I had the dress and towels on carpet but I did move it afterwards to a tiled area so that my carpet wouldn’t get wet hehe. Let it stay there ’til it dries enough to be hung up. DO NOT hang the dress straight away as the weight of the dress when wet will be too much and will stretch the material leaving you with a saggy, ill-fitting dress… Not hot.
Once the dress is dry, check for water marks. A watermark is when the water has run down the material and left a puddle like mark once dry. Generally with this satin material I have on my dress it is prone to water-marking. It’s a pain in the butt dealing with water marks I tell ya! But I think I’ve figured out the answer! Don’t try and spot clean/dry the water marked areas as this will just create more of the same. Trust me, I’ve tried. Instead you will have to re-wet the entire area that is marked. For me its the whole skirt. I did this by filling a squirty bottle with a little bit of vanish spray and warm water and completely soaked the whole skirt. I then took a towel and slightly dried it off before hitting it with the hair dryer and drying it completely. This will take away ALL the marks and should leave the material looking clean and even as if it were brand new 🙂
And there you go ladies! And gents if you’re watching 😉 Hopefully your outfit looks (and smells!) brand spanking new again. Its a love/hate relationship I have with washing my dress. I hate doing it because it can sometimes be a mission but I always love the feeling of putting on a fresh, clean dress at the start of a competition. I wouldn’t recommend washing your dress too often as the material and stonework should be treated with care and to wash it over and over could be damaging. Instead, to keep your dress going in between washes, I really recommend buying some Febreze Fabric spray. It kills nasty odours and germs and leaves your dress smelling like flowers. If you have any more questions or would like to see a post on something in particular please feel free to hit me up in the comments below! I’m always up for new ideas!
Love, Rachelle xx