“Since I always wear a blouse with my jumperskirts, I don’t see the point in washing them.”
” I heard that any red dye will bleed, so I don’t risk washing my expensive dresses! “
“Handwashing is too much trouble, and drycleaning is too expensive. So I just let things air out before I wear them again.”
” I only wear my clothing for a few hours, so it is still pretty clean! “
OH. MY. GOD. THIS HAS GOT TO STOP. (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻
Ladies, we need to have a talk. It has come to my attention that quite a few lolitas who participate in our sales communities have been skipping out on lolita laundry day. This is absolutely disgusting. Dirty laundry worn over and over accumulates dead skin cells, dirt particles, and germs – which means it can make you both sick and smelly. And if you are scared of damaging your precious prints by washing them, please be aware that by letting them sit around dirty you’re basically setting up a frilly buffet for pests that otherwise avoid clean cotton or chiffon. But hey, what’s a few holes as long as the print doesn’t run, right?
Do I sound a little bitter? Do I? Let me tell you why this has become one of my biggest lolita pet peeves. Yesterday my friend received a second hand dress that came smelling like cheese. The first time I ever purchased a bunny bear backpack, it smelled so revolting that I had to keep it in an airtight box until I could resell it at a huge discount to a buyer who understood the situation. I’ve received multiple items with sweat stains so caked in that there is a white or yellow film in the armpits. I once ended up with an OP that was so dirty that you could no longer make out the print, and I had to wash it three times before the water stopped turning grey from dirt. THIS IS DISGUSTING, and it is so common that I’ve largely been turned off from purchasing second hand items from the western community. If you want to be gross on your own feel free, but don’t make me pay you to be an unwilling participant when you sell me dirty clothes!
Contrary to popular belief, most lolita clothing isn’t made of candyfloss and it won’t disintegrate when you put it in water. In fact, not only is it likely that your favorite dress withstand a trip to the drycleaners, most of your items can even be machine washed!
Here is a translated guide from the Gothic & Lolita Bibles that gives instruction on proper garment care. I hope you’ll notice that Ignoring The Problem isn’t an option listed.
Since today is lolita laundry day at my house, I thought I’d provide a quick tutorial on how I take care of my larger items like jumperskirts & OPs. So, without further ado, here’s Rosie’s Guide on How to Stop Being Gross and Wash Your Damn Clothes.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional, I don’t work in the laundry/drycleaning business. This is a basic guide with tips based on how I wash my clothing. I’m not responsible for the proper care of your laundry so please do your own research and use your common sense.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what is the best way to tackle your laundry. Some people don’t want to risk damaging their clothing at all, so they take everything to the drycleaners. If you can afford it, this is a quick and easy solution – but it can be expensive. In my area it costs between 10-25 $ per dress set to be cleaned – which means that a month of lolita laundry can cost hundreds. You also want to make it clear that you want your items to be dry cleaned and not just laundered – otherwise there is a good chance you’ll be paying a premium for a service you could have just done yourself.
Since drycleaning is a bit pricey, I tend to save it for coats or items that have fake fur on the collars or trim. Just about everything else gets cleaned at home – either by machine or by hand.
Some Washing Machine Tips:
Check the care label before washing. While most items are machine washable some are not, and the care tag can prevent an accident.
If an item is older than 2010, check this list to see if it runs in the wash. While the list is currently quite out of date, there are a few prints mentioned should be drycleaned only.
Velvet, Wool, and Fake Fur should be drycleaned because agitation from the washing machine can shrink or ruin the texture of the fabric.
Check to see if a print is colorfast before washing. You can use a waist tie or a manufacturers fabric swatch (usually AP includes them on the hang tag) to check by dabbing a cold wet cloth in a bit of your detergent and then gently rubbing a spot to see if there is color transfer. If there is, you should consider drycleaning or handwashing instead.
Usually chiffon & cotton blouses, socks, bloomers, wristcuffs and petticoats can all get thrown in the washing machine together on the cold setting and they are sorted by colors: whites, pinks, reds, blues and blacks. I also usually have no problem drying these items for 30 minutes on the lowest heat setting. If something was particularly expensive I might handwash/hang dry.
If something is particularly fragile you can always use a delicates bag to protect it in the wash.
ALWAYS double check your setting and make sure that you only use a gentle cycle and cold water!
If an item has tulle or cotton lace, you’ll want to hang dry it to prevent damage.
Cardigans can be a bit more difficult. Most of my cardigans from Metamorphose are fine to be machine washed, but Baby the Stars Shine Bright cardigans all get hand washed or drycleaned, since they tend to shrink or become felted with too much agitation.
Any main item (one piece, jumperskirt or skirt) without fake fur gets washed on its own in the machine. I do this to prevent any color transfer between garments.
Do not use bleach on your clothing. If you have used bleach in a washing machine recently, run a rinse cycle before washing your clothes.
Do not apply detergent directly to the clothing, instead put it in the dispenser or dilute it by adding it to the water as the drum fills.
Do not over stuff a washing machine or dryer. You risk stretching or scalding items that can’t move effectively.
Do not use fabric softeners or starch on your clothing, these can irritate your skin or attract pests.
If you can’t confirm an item was cleaned before being shipped, wash ALL second hand items as soon as you get them. If you can’t, place them in the freezer for 48 hours to reduce any odors and kill potential pest larvae. You still need to wash it though, since freezing doesn’t kill bacteria, it just puts it in a dormant state.
Also, for a quick reference I’ve successfully machine washed items from the following brands:
Baby the Stars Shine Bright
Everything I’ve ever purchased from Taobao
Emily Temple Cute
Hae Nu Li
Juliette Et Justine
Moi Meme Moitie
So, today I’m going to be washing this Baked Sweets Parade OP by Angelic Pretty. According to the listing on lolibrary, it is made of polyester, which means that it should be durable enough for the washing machine (as is most brand clothing.)
To start I take a visual inspection of the OP. Since it has recently been altered I check those areas to make sure they haven’t frayed, and I also look to see if there are any visible stains that should be pre-treated or soaked before washing. I’ve also removed the detachable bow at the collar so that it doesn’t fray in the wash. Right now this OP looks pretty good to go.
The next thing I do is flip my OP inside out and fold it into a little packet. I do this to protect the lace details and printed fabric from rubbing against the machine drum during washing. Usually this packet unfolds during the wash, but I find that the sleeves and collar tend to end up less twisted if I use this method.
I then place my folded dress in the washer by itself. As I mentioned before it will unfold itself as the drum fills with water, but I like to keep it on one side of the machine as I prepare the wash cycle. You’ll see at the top of this photo the blue area where the liquid detergent dispenser is. Not all machines have these, and some have them on the side. In this case I won’t be using it, as it tends to apply a more concentrated dose of detergent during the wash cycle than I want.
Next, I take a small amount of detergent and measure it out into the lid of the bottle. Here I’m using Xtra detergent with the Mountain Rain scent. There isn’t anything special about this product; it is a bit watery compared to other detergents and there aren’t a lot of bubbles when it is added to the water. I do like that clothes don’t come out of the washing machine smelling like perfume, and it doesn’t irritate my skin like other detergents/fabric softeners do. That said, I hear that quite a few other lolitas use products like Woolite, Oxyclean or Tide with success, so you may want to check out product reviews before making a purchase. I’ve just been using this product since I was a teenager, and it is almost always on sale somewhere for a good price.
As I mentioned before, I won’t be using the dispenser like I do when I wash larger loads of laundry (blouses, socks, petticoats etc.) Instead I’ll be adding the detergent directly to the drum. I am doing this as far away from the dress as possible, so that the added water will dilute it before it comes in contact with any fabric.
You can see here that after just a few seconds the detergent is already becoming diluted, but the majority of it is still located in one place and isn’t yet touching the dress. Since my dispenser is in a spiral shape, if I had placed the detergent there, chances are a large amount of it would come in contact with my dress all at once, and could risk staining the fabric. There are some people who swear you should never put detergent directly into the drum though, so again – do a little research and decide what is best for you.
Before I put anything in the washing machine I always check the settings, but just in case I always check them again before leaving. Since I’m only washing one item I have the load size set to small, the speed set to gentle, and the cycle set to delicates. I also only ever use cold water, as this can prevent shrinking and bleeding colors.
After this, I take out my dress and hang it up to dry with a plastic hanger in an area without a lot of moisture. Please don’t use metal hangers to dry your clothing, as they can leave horrible rust stains! I also take the time to straighten out the bows and pull gently on the front and back of the skirt and sleeves to get out any large wrinkles. I never dry in the machine as quite a few of them have built in petticoats made of tulle, which can melt if too much heat is applied.
Once it is completely dry (usually after 4-8 hours) I return it to my wardrobe.
If only everything in life were so easy! ◉ _ ◉
I hope that this little guide has been of some use, and I really hope that less people feel intimidated about washing their clothing. If you would spend the time and effort taking care of a 20$ T shirt, don’t your expensive items deserve at least the same level of care?
My last word of advice would be to set aside a lot of time to take care of your laundry, especially if you’ve never washed your garments before. You will probably find it easiest to throw in your bulk wash first, and then to do single items after the big load has been placed in the dryer. Please feel free to ask questions or leave tips in the comments below.
There are tons of guides on how to wash your lolita clothing out there, including blogs, vlogs, and the printed versions in the Gothic & Lolita bible. If you find another way that works better for you, go for it! But the important thing is DO NOT SKIP OUT ON LAUNDRY DAY. You might not think of it as a big problem, but please remember that if someone offers you a new perfume to try: the rest of us can smell you, but we are just too polite to say anything. Clean up your act!
– Miss Rosie