Halloween costumes laundry

How to Wash a Halloween Costume

As avid trick-or-treaters move from one haunted house to another, their boo-tiful costumes turn into ghoulish nightmares. Face paint gets smeared over arms and capes, ball gowns get caked in chocolate and mud, and toffee gets entangled in broomsticks and hairy masks.

It’s all good fun at the time. But it’s a blooming nightmare to clean the outfits afterwards!

So, how do you wash a Halloween costume, so it’s ready to scare the living daylights out of people next year? Follow the steps below and you’ll be back to having a terrifyingly good time in no time!


Tips to Consider Before Washing a Halloween Costume

Below you’ll find a few points to think about before washing your Halloween costume. Try not to skip this section because if you do, you may face a tricky disaster!

  • Always read the care label on the costume before you wash it. Here you’ll find information telling you what the outfit is made from, how to wash it and how to dry it.
  • Hand-washing Halloween costumes is a good idea. Why? Costumes can be covered in detailed and delicate embellishments, like sequins, glittery bows and embroidery that could be torn off in a washing machine.
  • If you’re ever in doubt about how to wash a Halloween costume you should take it to a dry cleaners to get their advice.
  • Stick to using gentle detergents when washing Halloween costumes. Chemical lined cleaners and bleaches are often too strong for the materials that make up costumes. They can ruin the quality and colour of the fabric.
  • You should leave your Halloween costume to air dry naturally once it’s been cleaned. The harsh tumbling motion of a dryer, plus the intense heat, could warp or cause irreparable damage.
  • Use cold water when washing Halloween costumes. This should prevent any shrinking.
  • If you can machine wash your costume, pick a delicate cycle.
  • Test your cleaning product out before you use it to wash your costume. A discreet patch test will tell you if the product will cause damage, like discolouration, to the fabric. This simple action could save you from ruining your entire Halloween outfit!
  • No wringing, twisting, scrunching up, or vigorously rubbing your Halloween costumes clean. Such actions could snag, rip and ruin the material you’re working with.
  • If you hand-wash a Halloween costume you must remember to rinse the item before drying it. Otherwise, you’ll have a soapy costume instead of a bewitching one!
  • Detach any paraphernalia that comes with the costume before you wash it. And clean any accessories in a way that’s suitable for them. For example, you cannot throw a plastic tiara, a broomstick, a wand, a pumpkin, a cauldron or some vampire teeth into a washing machine.
  • Wash your Halloween costume inside out.


Halloween costume washing tips


How to Wash a Halloween Costume

Regardless of what spooktacular Halloween costume you’ve got to wash, the first thing you should always do is check the outfit’s care tag. (The tag is typically located on an inside seam).

Once you’ve checked the tag, you can start cleaning the costume in one of the ways listed below!

Machine wash

Costumes made from cotton, polyester, nylon and acrylic can normally be washed in a washing machine. Here’s what to do:

  1. Spot treat obvious stains by rubbing a tiny amount of delicate detergent into the blemish. Then turn the outfit inside out, so the back of the stain is facing you, and wash the area with cold water. By flushing water through the back of the stain, you should be able to push it out, or loosen it ready for the washing cycle.
  2. Pop your costume in the washing machine.
  3. Add a delicate detergent.
  4. Select a delicate cycle.
  5. Choose a cold temperature.
  6. Start the wash.
  7. When the cycle is done, remove the costume and either hang it up to dry, or lay it flat out on a towel to dry.



hand washing black clothes

Costumes that need to be hand-washed are usually ones that are made from or include delicate materials, like tulle netting, and those with embellishments like sequins and beads.

Here’s how to hand-wash a Halloween costume:

  1. Spot-treat stains by rubbing a tiny amount of delicate detergent into the dirty patch. Then flip the outfit inside out, so the back of the stain is facing you, and rinse the area with cold water. By flushing water through the back of the stain, you should be able to push the stain out, or at least loosen it from the material’s fibres ready for the hand-washing phase.
  2. Fill a clean sink/tub with cold water.
  3. Add a delicate laundry detergent to the water.
  4. Make sure the Halloween costume is still inside out.
  5. Submerge the costume in the soapy water.
  6. Knead the costume in the water but do so very gently.
  7. Continue to do this for a few minutes.
  8. Remove the costume from the water.
  9. Empty the soapy water away.
  10. Hold the Halloween costume under the cold water tap and rinse all the detergent off it.
  11. Lay the costume out flat on a clean towel and leave it there for a few minutes. The towel will absorb the excess moisture.
  12. Continue drying the costume naturally by hanging it up outside or leave it flat on the towel to dry.


Dry clean

If your Halloween costume’s tag states that it should be ‘dry cleaned only’, then this is how the outfit should be cleaned.

To find a dry cleaner in your area do a quick online search and take note of the following:

  • Ask the cleaner if they actually clean costumes.
  • Discuss what products will be used.
  • Find out the price.
  • Choose a reputable company with experience in cleaning costumes.


How to Dry a Halloween Costume

Many Halloween costumes are made from delicate materials that are covered in embellishments that could be damaged in a tumble dryer.

So, the easiest way to dry costumes is to air dry them naturally. This is the ideal environment because it’s not too hot and the material won’t be thrashed around inside a drum. This, in turn, should prevent any snagging, ripping or shrinking.

You can dry a costume naturally by hanging it on a line to dry or by hanging it up in a well-ventilated area.

The most important things to remember are, the costume should be exposed to sufficient air, natural light from the sun, and it must be completely dry before it is stored/worn.

Alternatively, if you’ve got a more structured costume that shouldn’t be hung up, you should lay it out flat and allow it to dry like this instead.

Additionally, you may need to stuff some small towels/paper into some costumes to help them keep their shape as they dry.


How to Wash a Spider-Man Costume 

How you wash a Spider-Man costume depends on what material the outfit is made out of. For example, a costume could be made from cotton, Lycra, spandex, and if you’re fancy, silk.

If you’ve got a cotton or polyester Spider-Man costume, you can typically clean it in a washing machine. But do check the care tag before you do this.

Just choose a delicate washing cycle, a low temperature, and add your costume to the washing machine’s drum, and start the cleaning process. You can then hang/lay the costume up/out to dry.

If you’ve got a Lycra or spandex Spider-Man costume you’ll need to hand-wash the outfit.

Simply fill a tub of cold water and add a few blobs of delicate detergent to it. When you’ve done this, you can pop the costume in the water and leave it to soak for a few minutes.

Then you can knead the material in the water to clean it. When you’re done, you’ll need to rinse all the soap off the outfit and dry the item by hanging it up/laying it flat.

Lycra and spandex Spider-Man costumes shouldn’t be cleaned in a washing machine.

If you’ve got a silk Spider-Man costume, you should ideally hand-wash it. So, fill a tub with cold water and add a little detergent. (Use a silk specific detergent). Then add your costume to the water, knead it, and rinse it at the end to remove the soap.

Alternatively, silk can be washed in a washing machine, but you must place the Spider-Man costume in a mesh bag to protect it. You’ll also need to pick a delicate cycle and a low water temperature to wash the item on.

And as above, when it’s time to dry the Spider-Man costume, just hang it up in a well-ventilated room/outside to dry, or place the outfit flat out on a surface to air dry.

In some cases, you’ll notice that the tag on your Spider-Man costumes says that the material is ‘dry clean only’.

If this is the case with your particular costume, you’ll need to find a dry-cleaning store and take your costume there to be cleaned. If you were to wash your costume at home, you could wreck it!


How to Wash a Halloween Mask

Masks tend to gather a lot of dirt, make up and sweat over the course of a trick-or-treating evening. So, if you intend on keeping the mask in question, it must be cleaned.

To wash a mask, just wet a clean cloth with some soapy lukewarm water and wipe the entire mask down (make sure you clean around the mouth, nostril, nose and eye parts)—inside and out.

When you’re done, use a new dry cloth to wipe any excess water off the mask. And finally, fill the mask with paper, so it holds its shape as it air dries. It can then be stored away.

If the mask in question comes with fur or artificial hair, use a soft brush to untangle the mats and to brush out any dirt.

Boy in Halloween costume with mask


Can You Put Halloween Costumes in the Washing Machine?

It is possible to wash some Halloween costumes in a washing machine, so long as the tag on the outfit says it is safe to do so.

However, in some cases costumes have to be washed by hand or by a professional dry cleaner, like ones filled with sequins and beads, or made from leather.

You should always check the care label on your costume to see what it says about cleaning the material.


How to Wash a Wig

Halloween costume with wig

If you decided to go full on Harley Quinn this Halloween, but someone accidentally threw some punch over your pink and blue pigtails, your wig will need to be washed before it’s stored away.

Lucky for you, wigs aren’t too hard to keep clean!

Simply fill a tub with lukewarm/cold water, add a dash of shampoo to the water, pop the wig in and allow it to soak in the soapy mixture for about five minutes.

When the timer chimes, grab the wig and start swishing it back and forth through the water. The hair should be trailing freely in the water as you move the wig from one side of the tub to the other.

When you’ve done this a few times, rinse the wig under the cold water tap and lay it flat out on a towel to dry. Once the wig is dry, you can brush it!

It’s not such a hair-raising experience after all!


How to Store Halloween Costumes

Here are some ideas and tips on how to store Halloween costumes:

  • Make sure you clean your costumes before you store them. This will keep bugs and bacteria away.
  • Dry costumes properly before storing them away. Damp material can attract mould!
  • Fold costumes up nicely if you can, and store them in airtight bags to protect them.
  • Accessories should be cleaned, bubble wrapped, and stored together in a safe space.
  • Pop clothes that can be hung up in a long airtight bag, and hang them up.
  • Put a ball inside a wig or use a wig stand to help hold the shape of a wig when it’s in storage.
  • Masks should be cleaned and stored in an airtight bag.