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How To Clean Ballet Tights How To Clean Ballet Tights


How To Clean Ballet Tights

Written by: Mil Hildreth

Learn the best techniques for cleaning ballet tights to keep them looking fresh and vibrant. Discover how to remove stains and maintain the elasticity of your ballet tights.

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Table of Contents


Ballet tights are an essential part of a dancer’s attire, providing support, comfort, and elegance. Whether you are a professional ballet dancer or a beginner taking ballet classes, it is crucial to keep your ballet tights clean and well-maintained to extend their lifespan and preserve their quality.

Regular cleaning and proper care will not only help your tights look their best but also prevent the accumulation of sweat, dirt, and bacteria that can lead to unpleasant odors and potential skin irritations.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of cleaning ballet tights, whether they are made of nylon, microfiber, or other materials. We will discuss both hand-washing and machine-washing methods, as well as share tips on drying and storing your tights.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your ballet tights remain clean, fresh, and ready for your next dance performance or class.


Materials Needed

Before you begin cleaning your ballet tights, gather the following materials:

  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Bucket or sink
  • Warm water
  • Gentle fabric conditioner (optional)
  • Washing machine (if machine-washing)
  • Mesh laundry bag (if machine-washing)
  • Clothesline or drying rack
  • Hangers

When selecting a laundry detergent, opt for a mild one that is suitable for delicate fabrics. Harsh detergents can damage the elasticity and fibers of the tights. Additionally, a gentle fabric conditioner can help keep the tights soft and comfortable.

If you choose to machine-wash your ballet tights, a mesh laundry bag is essential. This bag will protect the tights from snagging on other garments or getting stretched out in the washing machine.

Having a clothesline or drying rack is crucial for air-drying your tights properly. Avoid using a dryer, as the heat can damage the fabric and cause shrinkage.

Lastly, having hangers on hand will allow you to hang your tights to dry in a way that prevents wrinkles and helps them retain their shape.

By ensuring you have these materials ready beforehand, you can make the cleaning process more efficient and effective.


Preparing the Tights

Before diving into the cleaning process, it is crucial to prepare your ballet tights properly to ensure the best results. Follow these steps:

  1. Inspect the tights: Carefully examine the tights for any stains, tears, or loose threads. Address any repairs needed before washing to prevent further damage.
  2. Turn the tights inside out: This step is especially important for delicate tights to protect the outer layer from potential snags or abrasions during washing.
  3. Remove any excess dirt or debris: Gently brush off any dirt, lint, or pet hair with a soft brush or your hand. This step will prevent these particles from embedding further into the fabric during the cleaning process.
  4. Secure any loose threads: If you notice any loose threads, carefully tie them off or stitch them to prevent unraveling.

By following these preparation steps, you can help protect your ballet tights and ensure a thorough cleaning process.


Hand-Washing the Tights

Hand-washing is a gentle and effective way to clean ballet tights, especially when dealing with delicate materials. Follow these steps to hand-wash your tights:

  1. Fill a bucket or sink with warm water: Fill the vessel with enough warm water to submerge the tights completely. Avoid using hot water, as it can damage the elasticity of the tights.
  2. Add mild laundry detergent: Pour a small amount of mild laundry detergent into the water and mix it gently to create a soapy solution. Be careful not to use too much detergent, as excess soap can be difficult to rinse out and leave a residue on the tights.
  3. Submerge the tights: Place the tights into the soapy water, making sure they are fully submerged. Gently swirl them around to ensure even distribution of the detergent.
  4. Let them soak: Allow the tights to soak in the soapy water for about 10-15 minutes. This soaking period helps to loosen and dissolve any dirt or stains.
  5. Gently agitate the tights: After soaking, gently agitate the tights by swirling them around in the water. Be careful not to scrub or wring them, as this can damage the delicate fabric and stretch out the elastic.
  6. Rinse the tights: Empty the soapy water and refill the bucket or sink with clean, lukewarm water. Rinse the tights thoroughly to remove any soap residue.
  7. Apply fabric conditioner (optional): If desired, pour a small amount of gentle fabric conditioner into the water and swirl the tights around to distribute it evenly. Fabric conditioner can help keep the tights soft and comfortable.
  8. Rinse again: After applying fabric conditioner (if desired), rinse the tights for the second time to remove any excess conditioner.
  9. Gently squeeze out excess water: Carefully press the tights against the side of the sink or bucket to remove excess water. Avoid twisting or wringing them, as this can damage the fabric and stretch out the elastic.

Following these steps will help ensure that your ballet tights are thoroughly cleaned and ready for the next step: drying.


Using a Washing Machine

If you prefer machine-washing your ballet tights, follow these guidelines to ensure they are cleaned effectively while minimizing any potential damage:

  1. Turn the tights inside out: Just like with hand-washing, turning the tights inside out helps protect the outer layer from snagging or abrasions in the machine.
  2. Place the tights in a mesh laundry bag: To protect the tights from getting tangled with other garments or stretched out, place them inside a mesh laundry bag. This bag acts as a barrier and keeps the tights contained during the wash cycle.
  3. Select a gentle cycle and cold water: Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle and use cold water. Hot water can damage the elasticity and shape of the tights, so it’s best to avoid it.
  4. Add mild detergent: Pour a small amount of mild laundry detergent into the washing machine, following the instructions on the detergent bottle for the appropriate amount.
  5. Avoid using fabric softener: While fabric softener may seem like a good idea for keeping the tights soft, it can actually weaken the elasticity. It’s best to skip the fabric softener for ballet tights.
  6. Start the washing machine: Close the mesh laundry bag and start the washing machine cycle, allowing it to complete its full cycle.
  7. Remove the tights promptly: Once the cycle is finished, promptly remove the tights from the machine to prevent them from sitting damp for too long.
  8. Gently squeeze out excess water: Carefully press the tights against the side of the sink or bucket to remove excess water. Avoid twisting or wringing them, as this can damage the fabric and stretch out the elastic.

Remember to always check the care label on your ballet tights to see if they are machine-washable. Some delicate tights may require hand-washing only.

By following these steps, you can effectively clean your ballet tights using a washing machine, ensuring that they are fresh and ready for your next dance session.


Drying the Tights

Properly drying your ballet tights is as important as the cleaning process itself. Follow these steps to ensure that your tights maintain their shape and quality:

  1. Air-dry the tights: Never put your ballet tights in the dryer as the high heat can damage the fabric and cause shrinkage. Instead, opt for air-drying.
  2. Lay the tights flat: Lay a clean towel flat on a surface and place your tights on top of it. Gently smooth out any wrinkles and reshape the tights if necessary.
  3. Avoid hanging from the waistband: Hanging your tights directly from the waistband can cause them to stretch out and lose their shape. Instead, hang them from the toes using a clothesline or drying rack.
  4. Avoid direct sunlight: While drying your tights, keep them away from direct sunlight as it can cause fading and damage the fabric over time.
  5. Rotate the tights: To ensure even drying, periodically flip the tights over or rotate them on the drying rack. This helps prevent any moisture from lingering in one area.
  6. Allow ample drying time: Depending on the thickness of the fabric and the humidity level, it may take several hours or overnight for the tights to fully dry. Avoid wearing them until they are completely dry to the touch.

By following these steps, you can maintain the shape and quality of your ballet tights while they dry. Once they are fully dry, they will be ready for your next ballet practice or performance.


Storing the Tights

Proper storage is key to preserving the quality and lifespan of your ballet tights. Follow these guidelines to keep them in optimal condition:

  1. Clean and dry the tights: Before storing your tights, ensure that they are thoroughly cleaned and completely dry. Any remaining moisture can lead to mold or mildew.
  2. Use a designated storage pouch or bag: To protect your tights from snagging or getting damaged, consider storing them in a soft fabric pouch or a dedicated ballet accessory bag.
  3. Avoid folding or rolling: It’s best to avoid folding or rolling your tights, as this can cause creases and wrinkles. Instead, lay them flat in the storage pouch or bag.
  4. Separate from other garments: To prevent potential snags or transfers of color, keep your ballet tights separate from other clothing items in your wardrobe. This is especially important if you store them in a drawer.
  5. Store in a cool, dry place: Choose a cool and dry location for storing your tights, away from direct sunlight and excessive humidity. A drawer or a closet shelf are good options.
  6. Avoid storing for long periods without use: Ideally, try to rotate your tights and use different pairs to prevent one pair from being stored for extended periods. If you need to store them for a long time, periodically check and refold them to prevent permanent creasing.

By following these storage practices, you can ensure that your ballet tights remain in excellent condition and are ready for use whenever you need them.


Tips for Maintaining Ballet Tights

In addition to regular cleaning and proper storage, there are several tips and precautions you can follow to maintain the quality and longevity of your ballet tights:

  1. Avoid excessive pulling: When putting on or taking off your tights, avoid pulling or tugging forcefully. Gently gather the fabric and guide it onto your legs to prevent unnecessary stretching or tearing.
  2. Trim your toenails and file rough edges: To prevent snags or tears in your tights, ensure that your toenails are trimmed and filed smooth. Rough edges can easily snag on the fabric.
  3. Wear shoes or socks over your tights: If you’re wearing your tights outside of ballet class or performance, consider wearing shoes or socks over them to protect the fabric from abrasions and dirt.
  4. Take care with jewelry and accessories: Avoid wearing jewelry, bracelets, or accessories that can catch on your tights and potentially cause damage. Be mindful of any sharp or protruding objects that could snag the fabric.
  5. Wash tights separately: When cleaning your tights, it’s best to wash them separately from other clothing items to avoid color bleeding or potential snags.
  6. Avoid fabric softener and bleach: Fabric softeners can reduce the elasticity of the tights, and bleach can weaken the fibers. Stick to mild detergents and skip the additives.
  7. Have spare pairs: It’s always a good idea to have extra pairs of ballet tights on hand. This way, you can rotate between them and give each pair ample time to rest and retain its shape.
  8. Follow care instructions: Carefully read and follow the care instructions specific to your ballet tights. Different materials and brands may have specific guidelines for cleaning and maintenance.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your ballet tights remain in excellent condition, allowing you to focus on your dancing without worrying about the quality of your attire.



Properly cleaning and maintaining your ballet tights is essential for dancers of all levels. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can keep your tights fresh, clean, and in good condition for many dance practices and performances to come.

Whether you choose to hand-wash or machine-wash your tights, always handle them with care and use mild detergents suitable for delicate fabrics. Take the time to inspect, prepare, and dry your tights properly to ensure they maintain their shape and elasticity.

Storing your tights in a designated pouch or bag, separate from other garments, in a cool and dry place can help prevent damage and prolong their lifespan. Taking precautions such as avoiding excessive pulling, trimming your toenails, and being mindful of jewelry and accessories can also contribute to the longevity of your tights.

Remember, ballet tights are not just a functional piece of attire but also an artful expression that enhances your performance and appearance. By treating your tights with care and attention, you can ensure that they continue to serve you well and keep you looking your best in the world of ballet.

So, whether you’re a seasoned ballet dancer or just starting your ballet journey, make sure to give your ballet tights the care and maintenance they deserve. With proper cleaning and maintenance, your ballet tights will continue to inspire and accompany you on every graceful step of your dance.

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