For kids, the excitement of Halloween is often two-fold: they get to dress up and then go trick-or-treating.
The aftermath, however, is often just as important. The right strategies will allow favorite Halloween costumes to be passed on to younger siblings, used in future dress up games or placed a memorabilia box.
Follow these guidelines to keep costumes in tip-top condition and ready to use when you need them.
1. Clean the Costume.
Carefully read the costume’s cleaning instructions. If it can be washed at home, use the delicate cycle. You may need to wash pieces that are embellished with beads or glitter by hand. Special fabrics will likely require a trip to the dry cleaner. If it’s not too dirty, you can simply steam it with a hand steamer to freshen it up before putting it away.
Make sure all marks and candy smudges are removed before storing the costume.
“Stains will darken and set in the fabric, making them difficult to remove later,” says Susan Santoro, a mother of three and professional organizer at Organized 31.
If your child’s Disney princess costume included a wig, shampoo the fake hair and spread it out on a towel to dry. Carefully comb it before storing.
2. Fix it Up.
A night of trick-or-treating may end with a torn ninja costume or a snagged Batman cape. Stitch up any rips and replace broken or missing costume accessories.
Iron or steam wrinkled costumes before putting them on a hanger. By preparing the pieces now, the whole outfit will be ready to use when you need it, such as next year’s Halloween party.
3. Hang the Right Way.
Before placing your child’s Wonder Woman or Avengers costume on a hanger, check the material. Make sure the fabric is sturdy enough and won’t stretch while in storage. If the costume is able to be hung, keep it in a closet with plenty of space to prevent it from getting crushed.
“Choose a garment bag that will allow the costume fabric to breathe while also protecting it,” Santoro says.
Add a label that describes the costume so you can easily identify it later. List out the accessories so if you grab a last-minute costume later, you can quickly find items for it.
4. Protect the Pieces.
Separate any parts of the costume, such as tulle or a Superhero mask, that have a specific form to maintain.
“Use crumpled acid-free tissue paper to support portions of the costume that need to hold their shape,” Santoro says.
Store wigs on a styrofoam wig head or fold them carefully and place them in clear, plastic bags. Bubble wrap or newspaper can be placed inside a hat to help it maintain its shape.
If you decide to box up the costume, use a plastic bin to keep it safe from critters.
“We always stored our children’s costumes in a large Rubbermaid tub with a lid that fits on tight,” says Jamie Jensen of Boise, Idaho.
For fragile attire, use acid-free tissue and carefully fold the material to reduce wrinkles.
5. Package up Fake Blood and Makeup.
If you used fake blood to make your children look like zombies or put Halloween makeup on a superhero’s face, there may be a good amount left over that can be used next Halloween, or just for fun anytime of the year. Make sure all caps and lids are tightly closed.
“We’ve wrapped the containers in plastic wrap and put them in sealed, waterproof Ziploc baggies,” Jensen says.
When storing extra fake blood and makeup, consider keeping them with other Halloween decorations and away from costumes. This way, if they leak, you’ll avoid staining any clothes. Place them in separate plastic bins and label them before storing.
6. Store in the Right Conditions.
When choosing a spot for a selection of costumes, avoid areas that will receive direct sunlight, as the rays could cause fabric to fade. Look for a spot that stays cool and dry year round. Also keep costumes off the floor to reduce the risk of pest infestation. Add a moth trap to keep out critters and moisture.
If your children are young, consider keeping costumes in a spot where they can be easily reached.
“We were surprised by how often we needed to access old costumes for parties and other last-second Halloween needs,” Jensen says.
7. Think of the Future.
While you may want to access a favorite Spider-Man costume for the coming years, there will likely come a time when the attire no longer fits your child. If the costume was a special DIY project you carried out as a family, you might keep the pieces in a memory box.
If the Halloween costume is in good condition and you decide to not keep it, you may be able to find it a new home.
“When our children outgrew their costumes, we sold or donated them because they were still in great shape,” Jensen says.