How to Care for Your Ballroom Dresses

All Competition Ballroom Gowns and Rhythm/Latin dresses are fully decorated and proper maintenance is crucial for your dress’s life and looks. Most commonly the decorations used are crystals, beads, sequins, fringe and/or colored feathers which are glued on or threaded to the dress.

Some of the fabrics are really gentle and transparent, which makes machine washing and dry cleaning highly undesirable. CAUTION! DO NOT WASH OR DRY CLEAN YOUR BALLROOM DRESS as that will most certainly either completely ruin it, significantly decrease your dance costume’s life or will change the way it looks. Washing or dry cleaning your dresses can cause all decorations to fall off or at the least, ruin fabrics and damage the rhinestones finish.


Rule Number 1: Prevent as much damage and odor as possible before you put your costume on! 

  • Spray Tan, while making you look beautiful on the floor, will ruin your dress! Spray tan is difficult to wash out and will significantly reduce the re-sale value of any costume
  • Make 100% sure that your spray tan is completely dry before you put on your costume
  • Use a hair dryer on your body if you have to, but do not risk ruining your costume unnecessarily
  • Use a waterproof version of spray tan
  • Sweat and odor is your second enemy. Odor on your dresses is caused by bacteria, and hand sanitizer actually works much better than deodorant to protect against odor

Tip: Use both! Apply the hand sanitizer first then a clear type of stick deodorant or a deodorant spray – especially if the dress has sleeves.

Pack it! Keep hand sanitizer in your dance bag to freshen up between heats

Rule Number 2: Start prevention of damage from body oil and sweat, as soon as your take costume off!

  • Spray costume with anti-bacterial fabric freshener such as Febreze or Laundress, or just use vodka in a spray bottle. Yes, VODKA! Vodka or any clear pure alcohol kills odor-causing bacteria but vodka leaves the least after-smell. Note you may need to use more vodka than fabric freshener to get the same effect.
  • Hand wash the body suit in the sink using Woolite or similar delicate laundry detergent
  • Wipe off the armholes to avoid deodorant stains and odor
  • Leave bodysuit spread apart from the dress as much as possible while drying

Pack it! Pack a small spray bottle of fabric freshener in your dance bag to use as soon as you take it off!


Keep your dance dress in a dry place without putting it in a closed plastic protection bag for storage thus allowing air circulation preventing mildew. (If your dress is totally dry after cleaning by using the instructions above, you can store your dresses in a clean garment gag- but DO leave the zipper slightly opened to allow for air circulation. Do not store your dress for long periods of time hanging on a hanger- the weight of the dress itself will cause the dress to lose some of its shape.

Keep in mind that most of the fabrics are synthetic and are really easy to damage so, NO IRONING. You can easily hang your dress in the bathroom (AWAY FROM WATER SPRAY) while taking a shower to allow the steam to help remove the wrinkles prior to wearing it for a performance or competition. Do not leave it in the bathroom with the steam to the point the dress gets damp.



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