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Author Topic: Cleaning your Klingon costume (some ideas)  (Read 20481 times)
ngem Sargh lIghwI' pagh cha'
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When a show of teeth doesn't work, bite deeply.

« on: 10 25, 2004, 09:18: PM »

I ran accrossed this message and started to wonder about how to clean my costume, since the last time I wore it, I got rather sweaty in it.  So far I've been wearing regular clothes under it.  But it may need cleaning more than just 'airing out'

     This article has some general costume cleaning ideas, some of it applies to Klingon costumes more than other parts.  But I'll post it in its entirety so we can discuss the whole thing.

Warning: brain dump ahead!!!

There is a spray-on solution available for freshening band uniforms between cleanings, but I don't know what it would do to delicate pretty things. We had a big jug of it at the theater shop I worked at. I think it can be gotten at Oregon Tailors' Supply or through a friendly dry cleaning establishment that does their work in-house - most places send their stuff out to a central processor even for spot cleaning, so that might be a difficult thing to accomplish.

Using Febreeze or, for that matter, any liquid cleaning or freshening solution *may* have an adverse affect on some finishes, bright shiny bits and/or fabric dyes. Plain old sunlight is really good for a lot of musty or smelly fabrics. Ultraviolet light destroys a multitude of offensive and stale odors. Several days per "side" are usually what's needed, and in the winter you can just hang it up in a window - provided you live in a place where you get to see the sun in the wintertime....

Concerning cleaning items that supposedly can't be washed, the vodka trick is perfectly viable (an old book I have on millinery technique even suggests using gasoline in a similar fashion as a dry cleaning agent, but these days I wouldn't even go there!). Use the highest proof vodka you can find. I would suggest a minimum of 150 proof, though sometimes you can find 190 proof. If you have access to it, Everclear may be an additional option for you. The only place I know that you can get it even remotely locally is Canada, Montana or an Indian reservation. The lower proofs of vodka will have a higher water content and may increase the likelihood of damage to really sensitive materials. I don't know if using ethanol from the drug store would yield the same or better/worse results, but it is poisonous if ingested, so keep that in mind when working with its vapors. You may choose to mix your vodka with water, if the fabric and attached embellishments will withstand it.  Otherwise, use it full strength.

Put your cleaning agent in a new, clean spray bottle or mister. The more you pay for your application device, the less likelihood you will have of having large droplets come out of the spray head and leave watermarks on your nice silk! It's important to use something that is dedicated to this one task, as any residues left in a reused bottle may mix with your cleaning agent and cause unknown chemical reactions. Bad news if you have a reaction you weren't planning on show up with your project. As a side note, I have had some very old garments do a color change reaction with even dishwashing soap and shampoos (fine cleaning agents in their own right, either as a dip, a swish, or just on the problem spots!), but as the garments dried, much to my relief, the color reverted back to the original. Same thing with exposure to water and sunlight. Go figure. It must have something to do with the first generation chemical dyes that were used for a time.

If you are going to use anything that is solvent based or poisonous (Everclear is considered poisonous if you really go to town with it), please consider using an OSHA approved respirator with working, fresh filters that will block vapors; both biological and synthetic. The use of latex or rubber gloves would be an additional precaution. Alcohol and other liquids can be absorbed through the skin.

Hang up your garment in a well-ventilated area where you can get at all of it without having to move the hanger around a lot. Outdoors is probably best.

WARNING: stay *completely* clear of anything that sparks, has a pilot light or near any other sources of possible flame or ignition!!!!!! This goes without saying for those so inclined, take
your smoke break either before or after you are done. If you have any doubts that something may cause the vodka or other cleaning agent to flame, get further away! Crispy fried costumers just aren't any good. Even with barbecue sauce.

Lightly mist the garment using long, light strokes. You may choose to concentrate on just the "problem" areas such as the neckline, underarms, crotch, light spotting, etc. Like spray painting, it's best to use several light "coats" as opposed to one major soaking.  Let the garment thoroughly dry between mistings, and when working on spots or heavily soiled areas, use clean white tissue paper or paper towels to gradually mist and blot the stain away.

When you are finished with your task, store and/or dispose of your cleaning agent and protective gear according to all safety requirements. Don't ever leave highly combustible liquids stored in plastic. Store them in the same type of container they came in.  Allow the garment to thoroughly air dry before putting it away in storage. Muslin and acid-free tissue are better than plastic for garment storage.

As with applying *any* foreign substance to your precious outfit, test a small area first. Moreover, I would as often as possible apply any cleaning solution to the wrong side of my garment. There is less of a change of goofing up the finishes on sparklies and causing dye runs that way. Don't forget: your sequins, glass/plastic stones, braid, trims and even some beads may have painted or otherwise chemically sensitive finishes. Some do okay with "dry" cleaning and some don't. Always test, test, test!

If you really want to be safe with something just to freshen it up and don't want to mess with even getting it near any type of liquid, put some borax in a large pouch or bag made of a porous yet tightly knit fabric like an old t-shirt (a couple of cups per pound of fabric should do) and pack it away in a closed container with your garment for a few of days. Try to distribute the borax over as large an area as possible. Your garment should come out neutral smelling and refreshed. Cornstarch (dry) can be used on fresh oil stains, being blotted with clean towels gently worked in with an old toothbrush, but you have to be sparing with it as it's a bear to get out of dark colors. Unscented, light hold hairspray works on a lot of solvent based stains, like ball point pen ink.

There are a lot of resources (including web sites) out there for dealing with stains. I think Heloise and her daughter maintain a good website with lots of information, but I don't have the address right handy

Hope this helps.

--- Katherine Daida

    I have no experience with the above.  Please share your experiences.  Again test any cleaning product before using it on your costume.  Hopefully you still have scraps and remnants left over for this purpose.

    It was suggested to me that you should cut swatches of all the materials you used in your costume and glue them to a piece of cardboard.  That way you can take the swatches with you when shopping for similar material to compare.

Heloise's web page is Heloise.com.
« Last Edit: 01 24, 2005, 08:28: PM by Klythe » Logged
Ambassador Lady K'Zin
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Always trust your instincts!

« Reply #1 on: 12 17, 2004, 11:16: PM »

Years ago, a friend of mine bought me a small spray bottle of an agent that was commonly used for freshening band uniforms. I used it a few times with ok results, but hesitated in using it all the time since it was so expensive and hard to obtain. I generally would just air out my costume for a few days.

My main costume now is made of leather, with a few heavy vinyl inserts and sleeves made of high-quality artificial fur. Lately, I've worn it to a few small events and found that it reeked of cigarette smoke when I got home... now a bit of body odor is one thing that I find can often "air out" on it's own, but not cigarette smoke...

So I've been "Febreezing" it on the inside of the costume, as well as on the fur sleeves, as they seem to be the culprits holding in most of the odor. The Febreeze does not seem to have any adverse effects to the interior of the leather, nor to the sleeves and it certainly make an enormous difference, as I detest smoking-infested clothing, as I am a non-smoker. I think I would have a *really* hard time putting it back on if it still smelled like that! :blink:

Hope my experience proves helpful to my fellow costumers out there...
« Last Edit: 12 18, 2004, 02:22: PM by Ambassador Lady K'Zin » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: 12 18, 2004, 02:17: AM »

I have use alcohol, although never the drinkable kind to clean and deodorize my costume during conventions. As I wear an original series type costume, I can wash it when I come home. I prefer to hand wash it, but have used a mesh "delicates" bag to machine wash it before. Some of the smaller accessories are not machine washable and the alcohol spray works fine there. I usually look for the strongest percent Isopropl solution the local drug store has, but regular rubbing alcohol also works.

One area that I have recently found a good product for is boots. As I wear large motocycle boots, the leather seems to pick up smoke odor on the outside and foot odor on the inside. After a three day convention, this is not pretty. I have recently found a boot/shoe deodorant avalible from KIWI, the shoe polish company. That does the insides well when used over the course of the convention. For the outsides, I usually use the same spray I use for the clothes. The finish on the leather keeps the odors from getting more than surface deep. I find I have to polish the boots a couple of times a year to keep that finish looking warrior like.

I also know that there are several products made to deodorize and clean balistic vests and body armor. I bet these would work with Klingon clothing but I haven't tried them yet.

qoSagh qlIStIy
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Kaz Son of Maktan
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« Reply #3 on: 02 21, 2006, 05:23: PM »

Conerning Kathering Daida's quote up top, I am a big fan of the vodka misting technique.  I was acting/crewing an outdoor tour the summer past, and that spray bottle of vodka was a coveted item indeed!  That marching band solution is intriguing. I'll have to look that up as well!

Ars Brevis Vita Brevis
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