All garments benefit from proper cleaning techniques. The wrong temperature water can have a drastic effect on certain fabrics or trims. Colors may bleed, stains become set, or tears exaggerated. Lolita clothing is far from affordable, and even if you own inexpensive garments from Bodyline, Anna House, or one of the many TaoBao sellers it’s still a shame to ruin something by laundering it improperly.
The easiest garments to wash, in my opinion, are petticoats, socks, and bloomers. Jumperskirts, one-pieces, blouses, and other items typically require more attention–usually very careful handwashing or dry cleaning. Socks tend to get dirtier than any other item, especially if one is the type of lolita who perhaps is not terribly ladylike. …Not that I know anyone like that, of course.
Most socks, even expensive socks from Japanese brands, can be safely machine washed. There are two things to watch out for when washing socks–colorfastness and lace. This is more pertinent in the case of dark socks with white lace. An easy way to test colorfastness is dampen and apply the detergent you hoped to use on less noticeable part of the sock–such as under the foot. Then, rub a white rag against it. If the color transfers onto the white rag, it is not colorfast and should be washed separately. (Soaking in vinegar and salt is an old trick to help keep colors from bleeding out of an item.)
It is also important to check the lace on your socks. Ironing the lace back into place can be tedious, but there’s no need to do so if you are careful.
If your socks aren’t bleeding, you can safely wash them in the washing machine on the delicate cycle. I always wash with cold water to avoid fading. As always, wash with like colors just in case of any bleeding. I put my socks in a mesh lingerie bag to keep them from getting caught on anything inside the machine and bent out of shape. If your socks aren’t colorfast you can still wash them alone, but their color might fade if they aren’t treated. If they have contrasting lace or an intricate pattern, it might be safer to spot-treat or dry clean, unless you trust yourself to clean them by hand.
Most lolita socks look nicest if they are laid flat to dry instead of tumbling in a dryer. Smoothing the wrinkles out can really improve their appearance. This is most important for lace! Don’t dry lace-topped socks in the dryer unless crumpled lace doesn’t bother you. I always smooth out the lace with my fingers until it is laying neatly–it dries best that way.
In my opinion, bloomers are the easiest garment to wash. I’ve never run across a pair that couldn’t be machine washed and dried–unless you own bloomers made of the silk Mana spins from his own hair. Simply wash and dry with like colors. I like to use a mesh lingerie bag to keep ribbons or trim from getting caught on other clothing.
There are generally two types of petticoats in lolita fashion. Petticoats should be categorized by fabric type–usually tulle/netting or organdie/organza. Both kinds can be safely machine washed on the delicate cycle with cold water.
However, tulle petticoats benefit from being washed in a large mesh lingerie bag, to keep the tulle from tearing. It is very useful to starch tulle or netting petticoats, as well, as they provide better support to skirts when stiffened by starch. This can be accomplished either afterwards with spray-starch or during the washing cycle with a starch added to the washing water. Tulle petticoats can be dried in an electric drier, but only with extreme caution–they will melt if the heat is too high! Hanging a tulle petticoat upside-down to dry helps it stay nice and fluffy.
Organdie or organza petticoats don’t need the protection of a mesh bag, and they usually clean more thoroughly when washed separately. They also don’t require starch, since they rely on volume, not stiffness, to provide their poof. They can be tumbled dry on low to medium heat with very nice results–it leaves them fluffier than hanging them up to dry~
I actually enjoy washing my lolita clothing. It makes me feel accomplished to see things become so neat and clean, and I hate to wear dirty things~