How To Clean a Fabric Dress Form (Recover a Cloth Mannequin)

When you don't have a friend or you don't want anyone to know your measurements, the dress form comes to your rescue. It will help you create your clothes while keeping your measurements like it was a state secret. Unfortunately, they can get dirty and need a good cleaning from time to time.

Before you start cleaning you need to understand the construction materials underneath the linen outer cloth. They may get damaged if you wet the material. One method to avoid that problem would be to use Oxiclean laundry spray and let it dry.

To learn more about cleaning your dress forms, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can clean your secret keeper without damaging it. handle with care is always a good motto to follow when it comes to cleaning.

Can you Clean a Dress Form?


It is possible to do but one has to be careful when they do this task as the underneath layers may be vulnerable to water. One construction layer is said to be paper mache so adding more water is not going to protect the dress form but help it deteriorate.

The watchword here is ‘handle with care’ as another person took the top layer off and found shredded paper underneath. That was not a great find. The paper had to be removed before the rest of the form could be cleaned.

You will find that there will be many people, all with their own opinion and cleaning solution. That is okay as long as you find the one that works on the style of dress form you own. This is not a time to do any experimenting as the money you have invested in a dress form should not be wasted.

Check the construction materials underneath the outer layer before making any decision on how to clean a dress form. That information will help you make the right cleaning decision and protect you from making a big mistake.

How to Clean a Fabric Dress Form


The good news is that there are many options available depending on the material your dress form is made from. The outer layer is easy if it is made of linen. Just take it off, soak it in the right cleaning solutions made for linen and then wash it according to how you would normally wash that material.

Or you could use some Biz, mixed with warm water and a good brush that won’t damage the fabric as you scrub. The key to this method would be to not put a lot of the mixture onto the form. You do not want to soak the form at any time. Let dry in the sun.

The next method has you spraying on some Oxyclean laundry spray and you may see the stains disappear as soon as the spray hits the dress form. Deeper stains may not totally disappear which means you may have to resort to a second attempt at cleaning using another method or re-covering the dress form.

Different outlets sell new covers so you do not have to make one yourself. Then you could try Woolite mixed cold water and make sure to dab or blot the stain so you do not get the materials underneath the cover wet.

Vacuum the form first to get any loose dirt off. If you try to clean with loose dirt, then you may be adding to your problem not solving it. A paste made from Biz and a little water does a great job of whitening the outer layer.

However, the deep stains may not come out and you will have to resort to a little hydrogen peroxide to completely clean the outer layer. Use a spray bottle and cover the outer layer. The hydrogen peroxide shouldn’t damage the linen cover.

Cleaning a Vintage Dress Form


There will be different methods you can try but you have to proceed with caution as you do not want to damage the underlying layers. If your vintage dress form is filled with shredded paper, like one owner found out, then you will have to remove that paper layer completely and replace it once you get the form nice and clean.

The first step would be to remove the outer layer if you can. When it is off your dress form, soak it in some Tide or other laundry detergent and a little oxygen bleach. Start with some very hot water and let it soak for a few days. There is no need to keep the water hot.

Avoid using the dryer when the soaking time is over. Hang dry it and you may experience a little shrinkage with the hot water. To avoid that use a cooler temperature when soaking.

As for the base layer, you can carefully steam clean it. This will be a difficult task as you should vacuum first before steaming. Go carefully so you do not damage the material. Let both layers dry before reassembling the form.

As for the shredded paper, simply toss that into the trash or burn it. It is a good fire starter. Replace it with a nice layer of cotton batting and you can go thick if you want. When this layer is attached to the form put your outer linen layer back on and secure it in place.

How do You Clean Silicone Mannequins?


If all silicone materials are the same then you should have no trouble finding a cleanser that will take care of the task with ease. The first step will be to strip the mannequin bare so that there are absolutely no clothing items on the dress form.

Then the second step is to handle the mannequin with care. The fingers, toes, hands, and feet are the most vulnerable parts of the mannequin and can break very easily.

Once the mannequin is in position, you should start by wiping it down with water first to get rid of any loose dirt or grime that you can. Distilled water is recommended as purified and tap water often contain chemicals harmful to silicone.

Next, make a paste with baking soda and distilled water and use a toothbrush to clean that hard to get off dirt and grime. A little scrubbing is okay. If you like using vinegar then the recommended version is the filtered apple cider variety. Avoid the organic and filtered versions.

Because vinegar is acidic, make sure to wipe the mannequin down right after using this vinegar option. This will prevent any damage from taking place. There may be other cleansers you can use but we are not going to say that they will work. You would have to try them out on your mannequin to see if you have any success.

Those cleansers include- chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide, dishwashing liquid and make sure to use a microfiber cloth or a non-abrasive sponge to do the cleaning.

How to Recover a Dress Form


The good news here is that different companies make and sell new dress form covers. All you would need to do is measure the dress form and find one in the right size to replace the old one that may be too damaged to repair.

These covers are not that expensive as they are a cover only and not the complete dress form. To make one yourself there are a few simple steps to follow. The first step you do is to buy jersey material instead of linen.

Then make one pattern piece and cut along the fold. The jersey material may not need finishing on the hem either. Use a stretch stitch to secure the pattern pieces together or you can serge them if you own a serger.

Once that is done, your cover is ready. The hardest part is in selecting the right knit material to use to make this cover. of course, there may be purists out there who want their covers to be in linen only and they should hem the linen material to stop any unraveling from talking place.

You are free to use the material you want to use as this is only a dress form cover and not a fashion statement that will be shown to the world when you go outside.

Some Final Words

Dress forms come in handy when you want to spare yourself the trouble of putting on a dress and taking it off multiple times. Also, they will keep your measurements a secret for you and no one will know your measurements unless you decide to tell them.

Also, these dress forms help you make all the alterations you need when you need to change current designs already in your closet. They are handy tools to have if you take care of them.

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