Need to clean your cheerleading uniform for the first time? Have a stain that needs to be zapped?
Your uniform is almost as important as your cheers, dance moves and stunts. A cheerleader’s uniform is undeniable and universally recognizable. Such an iconic piece of fashion needs to be taken seriously, and needs to be cared for properly. The modern cheerleading uniform is made to be active wear, and is often made from durable polyester knit fabric. What’s that mean to you, beside comfort when you are performing? It means your uniform is most likely easier to clean than your standard cotton garment.
Since you spent countless hours doing fundraising activities for your uniform, here are a cheerleader’s biggest uniform cleaning doozys, and the easy ways to avoid them.
Cheerleading Uniform Cleaning DO’S vs. DOOZY’S!
DOOZY: Using a dry cleaner. While dry cleaners are reliable for many of your most treasured fashions, using one for your cheerleading uniform will cause the material to stiffen, fade and bubble. Your uniform may also take on a yellowish hue, which will be impossible to hide next to an unblemished uniform.
DO: Use a quality detergent to wash at home. Use a detergent that is popular for colorfast clothing, such as Cheer or Tide Sport. Use during regular washings to keep colors bright and remove dirt and odors. The first time you wash your uniform, wash each garment separately in cold water. After that, you can wash normally in your machine.
DOOZY: Using bleach. Think you can just bleach that yellowish hue from the dry clean out of your uniform? Think again! Bleach strips the color, leaves ugly spots and damages the fabric. White uniforms do not get whiter; they turn yellow. So unless your school colors are yellowish and yellowish, you want to avoid the bleach.
DO: Not using bleach. Use a color-safe bleach alternative or an oxygen-based all-fabric bleach to get out tough stains.
DOOZY: Using a fabric softener. You want to avoid fabric softener, which can set stains and dirt, making it difficult to get the uniform clean.
DO: Use baking soda to neutralize odor. If the detergent you have isn’t cutting odors, try presoaking your uniform in cold water with a capful of detergent and one cup of baking soda. You should always start by rinsing your uniform in cold water to remove any loose dirt. If you have hard water, add a water conditioner while presoaking to make your detergent more effective.
DOOZY: Washing your uniform with other clothes. Have you seen those sad uniforms that have fuzzy letters and decals? That happened because it was washed with cotton or cotton blend clothes. The lint from the clothes attaches to the letters and decals and instantly ages them. Don’t let this happen to you.
DO: Wash alone. You should separate each piece of your uniform the first time you wash it, but after that it is fine to wash all the pieces together as one load. Just be sure to wash it in cold water.
DOOZY: Using a stain remover. The name is misleading. Since it can actually make it impossible to get a stain out of your uniform, you should think of it as a stain sealer. That is if you think of it at all. Which you shouldn’t.
DO: Presoak. If you have a stain, rub a little detergent on that area and soak your uniform in cold water for at least an hour. Allowing your uniform a longer soak time will increase the chances of the stain coming out.
DOOZY: Letting a stain hang. Since stain removers are a bummer for uniforms, try to take care of a stain as soon as possible.
DO: Keep it fresh. It is best to attempt to remove the stain as quickly as possible. Fresh stains come out much easier.
DOOZY: Using hot water. Using hot water is a big no-no. Heat results in all kinds of bad things – shrinking, fading and setting stains. A good rule to follow is: no heat!
DO: Use warm or cold water. See above for all of the disasters that you can avoid by using warm or cold water.
DOOZY: Putting your uniform in the dryer. That no-heat rule is for the dryer too! The high heat can round out skirt pleats, leave bubbles, fade colors and shrink your uniform. You also want to avoid hanging it in direct sunlight. Just think of your uniform as the anti-Edward; instead of getting shiny in the sunlight, it will fade.
DO: Hang dry. Make sure that you allow plenty of time for your uniform to air dry. Hang it over the bathtub or in the laundry room.
DOOZY: Letting it be. Don’t leave your uniform sitting in the washing machine.
DO: Monitor the cycle. Remove your uniform as soon as the washing cycle is done to avoid excess wrinkles.
DOOZY: Reeking havoc on the fabric. Avoid clothespins and wire hangers. They can make creases and misshape the fabric.
DO: Embrace your curves. Hang up uniform pieces to dry thoroughly using a plastic or molded hanger.
DOOZY: Not heeding the no-heat rule. You don’t want to melt or discolor your uniform, right? Avoid using an iron.
DO: Get steamy. If your uniform somehow ends up wrinkled or messy looking, you can use a power steamer to straighten it out. The heat is not as high as an iron, so it will not melt your uniform.
Check out the Cheerleader’s Guide To A Successful School Year!
Do your friends call you the uniform whisperer because you can remove any stain or odor you come across? Share a secret or two with our readers!
Jessica brings her experience as a gymnast, dancer, team athlete and camp counselor to Cheerleading Blog, and CheerLiving Magazine, as the Editor-in-Chief. Jessica lived in the Chicagoland area, where she received a B.A. in Communications before moving to San Diego. Jessica has a fish tank at her office and at home, is addicted to music and can't resist french fries.