How to Wash Those Tricky Halloween Costumes


Cute costumes are most certainly a treat before Halloween, but a trick after.

From sticky sweets to mysterious mud stains, Halloween costumes can get pretty messy. And while Halloween only happens once a year, costumes can be useful year-round. Maybe your kids like to dress up again and again. Or maybe your friends just love a costume party. Whatever the case, it’s important to keep costumes in good condition. Even if you truly never plan to wear it again, (in the spirit of sustainability) you can hand it down or take it to a thrift store–and no one wants a dirty used costume. So what about those packaged polyester halloween costumes we all know and love? Here’s how to wash your halloween costume so it holds up (even if the manufacturer didn’t bet on it)!

Check the Tag and Care Label

First things first: see what the manufacturer recommends! Most tags will recommend either hand washing your costume or washing with cold water and a gentle detergent. If there are no care recommendations, take a look at the materials. Many halloween costumes are made of polyester or lycra–and we’re here with guidance on how to wash them!

How to Wash Polyester

  1. Machine wash with warm water and a permanent press cycle.
  2. Use your choice of detergent–anything from Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent to Active Wash will work. If your costume is very dirty, we recommend using a detergent that contains enzymes, like our Stain & Odor or Ultra Concentrated detergent.
  3. For extra softness, add a Fabric Softener Pod.
  4. Allow the costume to air dry. Heat from the dryer can melt delicate fabrics!

How to Wash Lycra or Spandex

  1. Fill a basin or sink with cool water.
  2. Drop in a Dropps Small Loads Detergent Pod or one pump of Ultra Concentrated Detergent. Allow the detergent to fully dissolve, and mix the detergent in.
  3. Place your costume into the solution, and gently knead it. Don’t wring the garment because this fabric is more delicate and prone to stretching when wet.
  4. Try dropping a Fabric Softener Pod into the wash with your garments to unstiffen those harsh fabrics naturally.
  5. Rinse the costume thoroughly with cold water until it is completely clear of detergent.
  6. Once you remove the garment from the water, gently squeeze—again, don’t wring—the excess water out.
  7. Always let the costume air dry fully before storing it.

How to Store a Halloween Costume

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 caused 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 pair of socks, or an air-filled, sealable bag that fits into the wig will prevent damage. Overall, the main thing to remember is to 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.