Taking care of dancer stank is a whole new set of fun for a Mom.  Not to mention the joy of repeatedly placing your nose voluntarily in a male dancer’s costume armpit to check for need to clean and the fact that no one, not your husband or your son, will do the same to double check to see if “you got the smell.”


You can’t just throw it in the washer, so the scent needs to be mediated.  Remember, dancers are athletes, but under lights, so they will get sweaty.  Not to mention the nervous sweat has a different odor all together.


The first step is, of course, putting the costume on a clean, deodorized body!  I recommend keeping body wipes, deodorant, body spray (guys- take it easy with this, yours is quite strong- spray lightly out in front of you and walk through), paper towels or dry rags and spray powder (I like Dry Goods menthol for my boy) on hand in a small basket with your costumes.  These can be applied between longer changes to help.  Even with the most diligent soul, costumes will still get sweaty.  Do not use fabreeze to clean them.  It will leave a sticky, sticky mess and not rid the costume of the bacteria, which is causing the smell.  Dry cleaning doesn’t work either, it doesn’t take care of the smell or the perspiration stains if you have them.  Never, never, never put your costume away wet or sweaty or mildew will be your new problem and I don’t have a blog for that. Here are the tried and true methods for stink removal:

  • Vodka and water- ¼ vodka to ¾ water in a spray bottle. Always keep one on hand.  No, that cheap vodka in my sewing room isn’t for my sanity!  This is a miracle worker and has taken care of 95% of my costume stink issues.  You can add a drop of a favorite essential oil for a scent (say peppermint).  Turn the costume inside out and spray liberally, let dry.  Do this after every show/performance.  The smell of the vodka will dissipate over time.  I recommend keeping a spray bottle filled at all times, and it works great on bodies and feet too!  If the smell is particularly strong, you can increase the vodka to water ratio without negative effects, even pure vodka.  Don’t forget a nip for yourself as well 😉


  • Ok, now say your student’s teacher had them practice in class in their very thick, made from who knows what modern costume for an hour in a hot studio. You know your boy was clean when he started because you can smell the soap and deodorant at his hip level as it has moved down in the waves of sweat.  Baking soda would be your next try.  You can combine this with some crushed, dried lavender seeds if you like.  Turn your costume inside out and place a towel under the affected area.  Dip a damp rag in your baking soda and scrub in small circles, allow to dry and brush off the baking soda


  • If all else fails, and that modern costume he practiced in still remains pungent, yes, you will feel significant aggravation toward the teacher because she isn’t here sticking her nose in your son’s nasty costume and gagging, but don’t give up quite yet. We have one more trick.  You need to try this solution on a small patch to ensure it doesn’t hurt the costume.  Ok, you know the products used to get cat pee out of stuff, yup, pull that stuff.  Spray it on a small area and let it dry to be sure no damage or fading.  If all is ok, soak that puppy with this stuff



I have never failed to retake back a costume from the brink of smelly doom with these techniques.  For extra love and measure, I do spritz a lovely, light body spray of the dancer’s choice.  You know, my guy doesn’t generally like to smell like vanilla, so I use his body spray.  Picky!