If your child wears a Halloween costume one time, there’s no point in washing it. Right? Well, there’s no law about cleaning costumes, so you could opt out of it. But if you’re going to hand it down or consign it, then you really should wash it. Besides, what kid ever wore a costume only once? There’s the pre-Halloween wearing, where kids jump up and down and tear through the house trying to scare the dog. Then there’s wearing it on Halloween, running all over the neighborhood, through puddles and yards, getting sweaty and smelly. And then there’s the greatest moment of the night where kids toss their masks, wigs and capes on the floor, so they can dig into the never-ending bag of sugary sticky goodness. Inevitably some kid will sit on a chocolate bar in his pirate costume or gets nerds stuck to her princess dress.
So yea, wash the costume already.
For washing, you should always follow the manufacturer’s care instructions. If there’s no label, keep in mind that most packaged costumes are made of cheaper materials with minimal stitching, so they aren’t likely to hold up for a long time. This means you’re better off hand washing in cool water with mild detergent. Rinse thoroughly with cool water. Second option would be a gentle cycle in the washer with mild detergent.
It’s best to hang the costume to dry, avoiding any shrinkage or fading of colors.
To store the costume, consider an inexpensive, clear garment bag or large, sealable bag. A clear storage container works well too, but make sure you fold the costume neatly rather than just tossing it in the box; this will prevent any wrinkling or damage to the fabric over time.
If you’re storing wigs, be sure to put a round object in the wig to help hold its shape. A ball, rolled up socks or an air-filled, sealable bag that fits into the wig will prevent damage.
The best thing to remember is care for your costumes when they have been retired for the season. Put them away gently, so you don’t get scared the next time you open the costume box or bag.