Friday, April 13, 2007

Washing Latex Garments Part I

This post is for those of you new to washing latex garments. The first time I washed any latex, I though to myself, "Oh my gawd, am I doing this right? What the hell is going on? Why is it changing color? Is this normal?" I've never heard anyone talk about this, so I took a picture to show you what happens to the fabric itself when it's submerged under water. In fact, latex, especially darker colors, will change color and become grey-ish and cloudy during washing. The "wrong" side, or rougher side, will appear darker (much like woven fabric clothing). Once it's completely dry, it will go back to normal. Wiping off the garment with a soft towel will not remove all the moisture in the fabric. It will need a few minutes of air drying to get completely dry.

If you don't know the first thing about proper washing or need a refresher course, here are some basics before we go on the the pictures.

The basics of washing latex garments:

  • Use warm water that's not too hot or too cold.
  • Don't use a harsh sponge to wash your garment. It will destroy the soft shiny finish of the latex. If you need some kind of a sponge, make sure it's soft.
  • If plain water is not enough and soap is needed, use a mild dish detergent without citrus. Don't use harsh detergents or chemicals. Rinse off all the soap.
  • Hand wash only. I personally don't recommend putting latex in the washing machine. Sure, it may work for some people, but not every washing machine is created equal. I don't even like washing my "regular fabric" clothing in the machine because they tend to get fucked up. While we're on the subject, don't put expensive delicate bras and panties in the washing machine either.
  • When drying off your garment, use a soft lint-free towel. Don't use a paper towel; you'll scratch the finish and get a bunch of lint crap on it.
  • A good drying system is to start on the inside of the garment first, concentrating on seams, zippers, grommets, and any metal stuff. Wet metal is dangerous to latex!
  • I recommend talc-ing at least the inside of the garment after it's dry. Talc the outside if you're storing it. You don't have to have yourself an 80's coke party with the talcum powder, enough to keep the garment from sticking together is fine.
Semi-Trans Smoke swatch:

Semi-Trans Smoke* garment, just washed, still wet:

In the picture directly above, you can see how the latex changed colors under the water. It appears cloudy and spotty and even "warped" in some places. Don't worry, plain water is not going to "hurt" the latex. For example, once when I was really forgetfull and left a garment in a wet sink overnight, I found it horribly bubbly, warped, and discolored. I thought I screwed up a perfectly good garment, but after I wiped it off and let it air dry, it turned back to its original glory. However, don't take this as an OK to leave your dirty latex laundry in the sink, especially if it has metal bits like zippers, rings, or snap closures. Latex is a fickle and delicate mistress that must be handled with care.
*The trim color is Olive Green.


Swiper said...

Thanks Betty.

I was just about to post a question regarding washing rubber on the rubberpal website, but this was a lucky find.

Thanks again (and I love this blog!)

~ Swiper |R|

VonLivid said...

Ditto on loving the blog :)
How do you feel about using a dishwashing detergent such as Joy or Ajax?

I like the degreasing elements - really cleans up the built up silicone solution.

Betty LaBamba said...

Thanks guys!

I usually use Ajax (or whatever's at the dollar store) without any citrus stuff. I learned about dishwashing soap when I worked at Demask, and I haven't had any problems with that over the years.

Anonymous said...

thank you, without you, I would've freak at my first wash! :)