Putting Your Corset in Water: Considerations for Washing, Swimming & Dying

Putting Your Corset in Water:

Featured Corset: Kayla Beige Mesh Corset

If the weather has got you thinking about going for a swim in your corset — and looking fabulous while doing it — you should probably take a moment to say goodbye to your corset first. And maybe make sure there’s a lifeguard nearby too. 

Don’t let those fashion magazine shots fool you into thinking that submerging your vintage or custom corset in water is good for you or for your corset under any circumstance.

Can You Swim with a Corset On?

Playing with the kids in the shallow end of the pool with your trainer on is one thing. Swimming in a full corset complete with steel boning is another. We’ll discuss what a bad idea it is for your garment in a moment, but first, let’s talk about your personal safety.

Wearing any sort of constrictive clothing while swimming puts your safety at risk. A snug-fitting corset not only restricts your movements but also constricts your lung capacity — something you need when you’re swimming. 

Also, imagine wearing a completely sodden garment while trying to swim. There’s a reason swimwear is made of lightweight non-absorbent materials. The extra weight of any wet clothing makes it more difficult to swim, which is the last thing you need if your lungs and movements are being affected by a corset.

To Dunk or Not to Dunk: Corset Care

Swimming with your corset is a bad idea, but submerging it in water for any reason is also ill-advised. 

It’s true that modern garments are made with new technology that protects against rusting and corrosion. Steel bones are coated and tipped with Teflon or silicone, and wide busks are constructed of durable stainless steel. Other metal elements in your corset may be galvanized to prevent rusting.

However, whether it is new or collectible, fully submerging your corset to wash or dye it, or to get into a serious game of Marco Polo, is still not a good idea. 

Delicate fabrics like polyester satin and silk can get water stains and colors can bleed and fade. If your garment is made of multiple layers, consider that different fabrics have different shrink rates, which means your corset can end up being warped and misshapen even if it escapes rusting and staining.

If you do choose to submerge a corset for any reason, handle it with care. Also, make peace with the fact that it may not survive. Place the corset in a bathtub or sink large enough to lay the garment flat without bending. Use only cool water and mild detergent, and do not scrub. 

To dry, lay the corset on a dry towel, place a clean dry towel inside the corset and gently press the entire garment with another dry towel until you’ve removed as much water as possible. Lay it flat in a warm, well-ventilated area where it can dry quickly.

Do not put any style or type of corset in the washing machine. A washing machine can bend the steel bones or tear delicate fabrics. 

Better Alternatives

There’s no doubt that corsets need a good cleaning once in a while. Whether you’re wearing one for daily training or for an occasional night on the town, it can get grimy and sweaty. You wouldn’t continue wearing the same bra every day for weeks without washing it, and you shouldn’t wear the same corset over and over without proper cleaning either. 

Unlike a bra, you don’t have to (and really shouldn’t) wear a corset directly on your skin. Putting your waist trainer on over a tank top or t-shirt protects it from sweat and body oils. It’s also more comfortable to wear that way.

Dry Cleaning

Unless the manufacturer’s instructions say differently, the best option for cleaning a corset is to take it to the dry cleaner. Dry cleaning is recommended if your garment is made from:

  • Satin
  • Leather
  • Mesh
  • Cotton
  • PVC
  • Denim

A professional cleaning will ensure your corset is fresh and remains undamaged.

Spot Cleaning

You can keep your corset fresher between dry cleanings by doing a quick and easy spot clean. Lay your trainer on a flat surface and wipe it all down with a damp cloth. Or try wiping it down with a baby wipe. Baby wipes are gentle, they smell nice, and they’re tough enough to clean some pretty icky messes.

Extend the Life of Your Corset

How you store your corset also affects how long it will look beautiful and keep fitting you like a glove

First, no matter how you choose to wash it, make sure the corset is 100% dry before putting it away. Even a small amount of remaining moisture can cause mold and mildew to grow between fabric layers and in the garment’s fibers. 

Once it is completely dry, store the corset in the pouch provided by your retailer or hang it in your closet. With the right care, your corset will keep its shape and beauty for years to come — just like you. 

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