Any gymnast, of any age and any skill level, puts their leotards through some serious punishment. In an ideal situation, a good leotard should be one that fits well, looks good and does not cost a small fortune.
To achieve this, manufacturers usually use certain materials and construction techniques that are somewhat unique to the class of garment, something that does make them a little more fragile and in need of a slightly different care regime than ‘regular’ clothes if they are to last as long as they are supposed to. Here are some tips for caring for your gymnast’s leotards the right way to get the most out of your investment.
Understanding Leotard Materials
Leotards are almost always crafted using a combination of four different materials; lycra, spandex, velour and elastane. Practice leotards may also have a cotton component, but they are neither as durable or as comfortable as those made with lycra and spandex, both of which add just the right amount of stretch and give, while also creating that shiny look that is essential for a performance leo and nice to have in a practice version.
It should be noted here that the first key for properly caring for a leotard is to make sure – as far as possible – that your gymnast takes it off as soon they are done practicing/performing as possible. At this point, the garment should be turned inside out, allowing sweat or moisture to begin to escape, and folded, rather than scrunched up, in their gym bag and stored in a mesh bag to allow it to continue to ‘breathe’.
Washing a Leotard the Right Way
Every leotard should come with its own set of laundering instructions, and those should be followed to the tee. However, one problem many parents end up facing is discovering that their gymnast has ripped out the tag because it was itchy/annoying/ruined the line of the leotard (all of which can be perfectly true) and the proper care instructions are now lost to them.
All is not lost however, as there are some basic care guidelines that apply to pretty much any leotard that, when followed, should still keep it in great shape. The most important include all the following:
• Wash the garment inside out
• Wash the garment by hand, rather than in the washing machine, in lukewarm water
• Don’t use your standard detergent, opt for a gentler option like Baby Dreft instead
• and add a 1/4 teaspoon of salt to serve as a natural sanitizer.
• Don’t scrub, swirl the garment in the water instead
• Don’t use a fabric softener
• Don’t wring the garment out, rinse it gently in running cold water and then wrap in a towel to remove excess water.
• Don’t tumble dry or dry over a radiator
Drying a Leotard the Right Way
If you have ‘toweled off’ a leotard the right way it should not be all that wet once you are done. It should then be laid flat, preferably on another dry towel, and left to air dry.
But I’m in a Hurry, Can’t I Machine Wash Just This Once?
Technically, some leotards, those without a lot of embellishments, can stand up to the occasional machine wash in a pinch. If you do have to resort to this option, it should be using the cold cycle only and with garment turned inside out. You should still air dry the garment though, as a tumble drier just isn’t a place that any leotard is suited for.
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