Not sure where to put this - I'm really curious how do costume rental shops clean their rentals? I figure for the costumes they dry clean? What about the hats and wigs???
Anyone ever worked in a shop - how clean are they really? What's the real scoop?
Well, I was the wardrobe mistress (manager) in the drama department when I was in college. We also rented out costumes to the public, in special circumstances.
We did some dry cleaning, laundering a lot (I am an expert at hand-washing large items!) and a LOT of steaming. We steamed the hats and wigs. I used lavender oil or tea tree oil in the steamer (expensive, professional model) on the synthetic wigs and they always look and smelled wonderfully clean. On the human hair wigs, we just washed them like you wash hair (gently, of course).
I would assume that costume shops dry clean the costumes. If you have concerns, I would call and ask them what they do. If they say they dry clean them, ask for the name of the dry cleaner (tell them you have a costume that you want to have cleaned). Call that cleaner and ask them about what they do (and, IF they do) for that costume shop.
We always insisted that cast members wear t-shirts under the costumes and/or dress shields, to help avoid perspiration contamination. Dry cleaning was/is expensive and toxic, and anything that can be done to avoid it is a good idea! Dry cleanable-only fabrics (or, vintage items) often had full cotton liners that we custom-made (like a chemise) worn underneath. We also made sure most of the collars on costumes could be easily removed from the garments for ease of cleaning, too, or we sewed cotton liners (that could be unstitched) to be cleaned or discarded.
Now, with products like Febreez on the market, I am sure that some costumers just use that stuff. Like I said, dry cleaning is expensive and, depending on the costume, some things require extra care (beading, feathers, materials).
Honestly, I don't know what the law said about it. I was just hired, as a student, to be the wardrobe mistress for the drama department. I did what I was told by the previous WM. I was hired because of my knowledge of fabrics, fashion history and because I sew really, really well!
I can tell you that our costumes never smelled musty or sweaty!! Like I said, we were very careful about what was worn under the costumes, which helps so much (plus, the actors were scared of the costume department's wrath if they screwed anything up!). We also had them stored in a climate-controlled room, which probably helped, as well.
I added the eo to the water and never had any problems. However, I would NOT recommend you do this with a home steamer if you are planning to rent a costume and want to freshen it yourself!!! You have no idea how many times a costume has been rented out, repaired and cleaned. If you damage the costume, you'll end up buying it if the rental business sees this. Don't risk it.
If you have concerns about renting a costume and you think it needs cleaning, ask the rental place to recommend the dry cleaner they use. Just remember, if you have any chemical sensitivities, dry cleaning products are pretty toxic.
Could you make a costume??
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