Every dance is glorious and glamorous, but ballet is especially so. But when the time comes to clean the equipment used for this dance or put it away, it doesn’t seem so glamorous anymore. It is easy for ballet shoes and costumes to get dirty during classes, practices, and recitals, so cleaning them thoroughly and adequately is paramount. Dance gear is delicate, but it doesn’t always come with instructions for proper cleaning and care. Luckily, we’re here to share some tips and tricks on how to clean and store your ballet equipment practically and efficiently.
Each piece needs special care
Leather ballet slippers
These are really easy to clean and maintain. Depending on the amount of dirt or stains, there are a few different ways to do it properly:
- For the first method, all you need is a soft damp cloth and gentle moves on the shoe.
- From time to time, you may clean them more thoroughly using dish soap or mild detergent. Rub one small drop of detergent or soap directly on your shoe and then wipe it with a soft dry cloth or toothbrush. Alternatively, you can pour a little bit of water and one drop of detergent/soap in a cup, stir to mix and apply to your shoe with a soft cloth.
- You can try to hand-wash them with a bit of mild detergent, but soaking them totally in water is usually not a good idea. Water can make leather brittle and cause cracks, so use water scarcely.
- Use baby wipes and gently rub off any scuff marks from your shoes. However, before using them, do a spot test on a small patch of the leather to make sure it doesn’t remove the color.
- You can use a window cleaning product to clean your leather ballet slippers. Spray some window cleaner onto a paper towel and then rub it gently on the shoe.
After cleaning the shoes, you can restore a bit of their original shine by adding some Vaseline. Try also with matching shoe polish, apply a small amount on the shoe, and buff it with a soft dry cloth.
Finally, you should never wash your leather ballet slippers in a machine washer.
Canvas ballet slippers
You can clean these in the washer with other delicates. The best way to do it is to put them in a small mesh bag, on a cold wash program, with delicate cycles and a mild detergent. You shouldn’t use laundry softener or any bleach products. This way of cleaning will remove all dirt and grime. After the wash, don’t let them tumble in a laundry dryer. You should straighten them back into their original shape, and lay them out on a towel to air dry.
Pointe shoes have a short lifespan and are not compatible with water. Clean delicate satin with a minimal amount of water, mild detergent, and a cloth.
However, the best recommendation for cleaning pointe shoes is baking soda. It is a miracle substance and is well-known for its many uses in our homes, in addition to baking. In this case, you should mix it with a bit of water to produce a thick paste. Then, apply a small amount of it to the spots and stains with a soft cloth or a toothbrush. You should gently rub the paste into the fabric with circular motions. Allow the paste to dry for a few hours and then wipe away the chalky residue with a warm damp cloth. Use a clean area on the cloth on each spot where you applied the soda paste. While any marks of dirt will be removed or faded, the previous shine will be dulled, and it cannot be restored to as it was when it was new.
Keep the fresh smell of your ballet slippers
Every task on the way to becoming a professional dancer demands a lot of time, effort, and perseverance. Cleaning your equipment properly is just a small piece of the puzzle. Fortunately, there are many tricks you can use so that it becomes your everyday and easy routine instead of a tedious task.
To keep your ballet shoes smelling fresh between washes, sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of baking soda in each shoe each time after you wear them. It’s an easy and quick process, but it does miracles for a fresh smell and a nice comfy feel. You can use this trick for any type of shoe.
How to clean leotards, tights, leggings, and ballet skirts
Dance exercises can be physically demanding, so it’s essential to take good care of your personal hygiene, as well as to clean your ballet equipment properly each time.
When it comes to cleaning your leotards and tights – almost all are machine-washable. To ensure their longevity, wash them in a lingerie bag, in cold water. Always use a delicate wash cycle with a mild detergent without bleaches or softeners. That way, you protect them and help them retain their original shape and look.
If you want your dancewear to last, do not put your dancewear in any dryer. The heat of that kind gradually ruins the elasticity of stretch fabrics.
If you have a ballet costume embellished or trimmed with stones, crystals, zircons, or sequins, you should always wash it by hand.
For ballet skirts, the best cleaning instructions are to hand wash them in cold water, with a bit of mild detergent, and let them air dry.
All costumes made from durable fabrics like cotton and polyester blends, pure polyester, and nylon can be washed in the cold water cycle. They are supposed to withstand low-heat tumble drying.
Delicate fabrics like lycra, spandex, tulle, linen, and knits must be hand washed.
How to store your ballet equipment properly
When you plan on not using your ballet equipment for some time, it’s a good idea to put it away somewhere safe, such as in a storage unit. This option is worth considering for a better organization of your space in challenging times – like moving or renovating a home. Before putting your ballet equipment to the storage unit, put ballet slippers and costumes separately in their designated bags. Then, place the bags in a box or container and set them on a shelf to prevent mold or mildew from reaching them. Storing your ballet equipment properly is of immense importance since they are delicate items that should not be neglected.
Keep good appearance and performance
Ballet slippers, leotards, skirts, and tights need regular cleaning to preserve their shape and look. If you have learned how to properly clean and store ballet equipment, it will ensure their appearance and performance are always up to your expectations.
Emma Smith is a freelance blogger, and a mother of two beautiful little girls, with ballet experience from her childhood. Although she had stopped dancing years ago, she still has a passion for ballet and hopes that she will pass it on to her daughters.