On Being Lolita: Dry Cleaning

On Being Lolita: Dry Cleaning

Dry Cleaned Blouses
Originally uploaded by sweetmilktea

I don’t trust myself to wash some of my more detailed and more expensive pieces of clothing. Certain lolita garments are hand-washable, but I worry about colors bleeding or stains getting set in. Considering that I tend to climb just about anything that might have foot-holds, love dessert–no matter how messy, and can sometimes fall asleep in awkward places, my lolita clothing does not stay neat and pristine forever. To avoid unduly damage, I take my things to the dry cleaners.

However, it’s very important to find a reputable dry cleaner! Not all places use the same cleaning methods, chemicals, or level of care. Having an expensive, beloved jumperskirt meet its demise at the hands of someone who was supposed to clean it is very upsetting.

Right now I rely on Briar Cleaners or K M Cleaners. (K M Cleaners houses the dry-cleaning plant; both locations are owned by the same person.) They’ve been cleaning a fellow lolita’s clothing for years, and take exquisite care of every garment that passes through their hands. I’ve seen them remove old, set-in stains, and I’ve never lost a button, ribbon, or detachable piece. Not to mention that they press everything very well, so I don’t have to re-do it myself once at home. They even do alterations~

The price is higher than some of the other cleaners, but I don’t trust my lolita clothing to anyone else’s hands. They even cleaned my BABY, the Stars Shine Bright bunny pochette~ I kept trying to clean Mallow myself without much in the way of results. When I brought that purse in, they said they’d have to take him over and call me back. That call came only a few hours later, and they confirmed that they could clean him. He hasn’t looked this good since I unwrapped him from the original shipping box!

If you’re going to test out a new dry cleaner, make sure that the first lolita garment isn’t something too detailed. Avoid something with fake pearls, paste jewels, or any other dangling pieces that aren’t removable, as they can be melted or eaten away at due to chemicals or heat. Be upfront with the clerks at the dry cleaner, and ask if they think they can clean it. If your response is frowning and a stress that there is no guarantee, you should consider taking your clothing elsewhere. You may want to take a few detailed pictures of the item as proof of what it looked like before it was taken in for cleaning, just in case anything happens.

Once the item is returned to you, inspect it for any burns, tears, stains, or bleeding before you even leave the shop. If you have a complaint, you want to make it as soon as possible. Then, check to see how well it was cleaned, if there is any residue that you dislike the feel or smell of, and how the lace was ironed. If you’re generally satisfied, the next step is to have them clean something more detailed. Lolita clothing is usually much more expensive to dry clean than non-lolita clothing, so you definitely want to get your money’s worth!

Also, talk to other lolita in your area! Ask where they like to have their things cleaned–maybe there’s an experienced cleaner that you didn’t even know of.

On Being Lolita: Laundry Day

On Being Lolita: Laundry Day

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~