One of the things about being a parent of a dancer that you are perhaps not prepared fully for is costume care.  It’s quite different than uniform care.  It’s not like you can take that beautiful tutu and throw it in the wash.  If you do, you will find your $150-450.00 investment ruined.  Other than just basic care, there are two other basic dancer costume difficulties: stains and stank.  Be sure you are checking my blog for all the tips on caring for costumes.

Let’s start easy so as not to overwhelm: stains

  • Blood- my boy had crazy awful nose bleeds, usually 10-15 minutes before call too. Picture this, you are out in the audience camera poised when a frantic Mom comes back saying your husband needs you now.  Picturing the worst, you hustle backstage to find hubby with a wad of paper towels protecting the white tuxedo costume shirt, fellow dance Mom and friend who is a nurse pinching his nose, blood drips through that lovely male make-up application you just perfected and yes, large drips of blood on that beautiful white costume.  Never fear, you have 10 minutes and you are super MOM.  (Moms of ladies, you know what happens when blood gets on a costume.  How often did my daughter start the day of the show)?  Washing that costume spot in COLD water with a bit of soap as soon as possible will do the trick.  Some people suggest soaking, I do not.  I find that will spread a lovely pink color throughout the costume material.  Hold the spot area only under running cold water and scrub vigorously.  BAM!  Problem solved, put it back on your boy, carefully pin that tie or ascot so it covers the wet and no one is the wiser.  Admittedly, you do return to the audience a wreck and shaking, but at least your kid is on stage for the opening number dancing his heart out.


  • Lipstick- this one is a tough one. Now some of you may say, “Hey! You have a guy dancer, why do you struggle with lipstick?”  Well, under lights, guy dancers wear lipstick too; however, I can say not once has my son gotten his lipstick on his costume.  The lipstick I remove from his costumes are his partners that he lifts (yup, lots of up close opportunities for lipstick transfer there)


lipstick on his shoulder from his company circle when they all turn out and his neighbor brushes him, and, believe it or not, lipstick on the arms of his costumes from the younger dancers who are a little giddy around him trying to be silly and get his attention as the older guy.  Those arm lipsticks are the ones I grumble about quite loudly.  So ladies, watch your lipstick for your own costume sake, but also for the sake of others!  Lipstick is hard to get out!  The key to lipstick removal is time and small area.  Don’t attack the whole stain at once.  Get a clean rag or toothbrush and work from the outsides inward in small, patient circles.  Here is what I found that has worked:

  • Baking soda and cold water – start by placing a paper towel under the stain to prevent spreading. Get your baking soda and dip a damp rag in it (or toothbrush) and small, firm circles scrub the stain from outside to in.  Continue with reloading the small area of your rag with baking soda until your stain is gone, then simply brush off the baking soda
  • Rubbing alcohol – I list this one with great caution. Some costume materials and rubbing alcohol DO NOT MIX, so always test this on an out of the way place on the costume that does not show before trying.  While it’s called rubbing alcohol, do not rub with this method, dab.  Take a clean, white cloth, dip it in alcohol and blot the lipstick stain, again being sure that you have a paper towel underneath to prevent the stain from spreading
  • Dawn® is very good to keep on hand; it is a mild cleanser, but it is blue. So while some internet sources will tell you to put the detergent directly on the stain and let soak, do not do that with a costume.  Simply mix a solution of Dawn and cold water and dip in your clean rag for it to be damp, not soaked.  Use the same technique as the baking soda method; remember to put the paper towel underneath.
  • Food/Drink Stains: First off – SHAME!!!!!


No food or drink in costume is a serious thing.  I can’t tell you how often I have thanked the Lord for my frontal lobe when I have watched a Mom of a young dancer handing her daughter a red sugar drink while in her pretty tutu.  My vast imagination pictures a slo-mo me screaming, “NOOOO!!!” while lunging toward the child and scaring the crap out of the little girl, not to mention the Mom’s likely reaction.


So, I tend to slowly walk away, eye twitching, and let natural consequences occur.


So if you’ve ignored your director’s/teacher’s instructions and have some food or drink on your costume, here are some things to try:

  • Get as much of the solid food off first, don’t rub it in, if that means grabbing your dancer before they do, GRAB – use something solid and flat- knife, credit card, etc
  • Liquid – blot carefully excess with paper towels or clean rag, no rubbing
  • Treat immediately
  • Here are some possible cleaning solutions- always test this on a small area of the costume that does not show to be sure it does not fade it or ruin it – good luck
    • Shout out wipes for very small infractions
    • Club soda
    • Oxyclean
    • Dawn as listed above
    • Salt and hot water
  • Deodorant stains: If your costume allows, there are dress guards that are inexpensive that can be placed to prevent this; however, many costumes do not lend themselves to this solution. For deodorant stains, be sure it’s dry and take some velvet or other such type cloth and brush in small strokes in one direction until they disappear.  There are spray deodorants that spray on with no residue that may be a better option to choose for a dancer
  • Sweat stains: dancers work hard, and you will sweat. I recommend antiperspirant deodorant.  Additionally, pat baking soda under your arms after you apply deodorant to prevent some of the issue.  If you do have stains, try one tablespoon of salt and a cup of hot water and dab, outside to in, in small units with a paper towel underneath until its gone

Stains are only one of the issues a dance Mom will face with her duties.  Be sure to check all my dance Mom survival guides.  Check back often, new material added every Thursday!