How I Clean My Show Clothes

Alternative titles for this post include:

How to destroy your show clothes
How to destroy your washer
How to combine chemicals in ways that are dangerous

The point of all that is to say, do not do this. This is not a “How To,” but rather a “How I Do.” Do not try this at home.

The tech fabrics that I like to wear for showing require careful washing. If you read the laundry directions tag, it’ll say to wash on delicate cycle and not to use bleach or oxiclean. That’s all well and good until the whites get stained and won’t come clean.

Last year I had gotten to the point where my white show shirt and white breeches were so stained that I was going to have to buy new ones. So I figured I might as well go ahead and try cleaning them intensely. If it ruined them, well, I was going to replace them anyway, so I’d be no worse off than before. As luck would have it, I didn’t ruin them and I’ve been using this method for a while now with no ill effects.

Step 1:

I put my whites in a big bucket. Then I pour on a scoop of Oxi-clean and dump some bleach in there. I measure nothing. The combination of these two things can create toxic gases that can kill you. Don’t combine these things. Again, this is not a DIY. Do not do the things.

Step 2:

I fill the bucket with hot water. The clothing tags all say no hot water. I ignore this. Our sink water can reach near boiling temperatures. I cover the whites with enough water to mix them around occasionally. I often forget to do any mixing though.

Step 3:

I let them sit for some undetermined amount of time. A few hours or whenever I wander past them while looking for something else and remember them is about right.

Step 4:

I pour all of the liquid and clothes directly into the washer and then add laundry detergent. This is another thing you’re not supposed to combine. Don’t do this.


Step 5:

I sometimes wash on hot, sometimes on cold. It really doesn’t seem to matter. The hot soaking in toxic chemicals is the part that really gets the stuff clean.

I have used this on my tech fabric shirts and my white dressage breeches, which have fake suede. I was pretty sure it would destroy the breeches in particular because fake suede seems like something you shouldn’t bleach, but nope; they’re in great shape. This even got the black dye from the Wintec off.

I mean, look how white these things are:

And that’s how I clean my show clothes. Does anyone have a nice, safe way of actually getting their whites white? Please share.

24 thoughts on “How I Clean My Show Clothes

  1. martidoll123

    i buy new things and hardly ever buy white stuff for this very reason!! HA you made me laugh though. My husband has been known to mix toxic things by mistake.

    1. Olivia Post author

      The general rule with bleach is there are two things in the world: things you can’t mix with bleach and bleach.

  2. roamingridersite

    I have spent 35 years avoiding white things. Alas, I believe I need to start into the fray. I know they recommend boric acid for running tech clothes to get the stench out. I wonder if that would help make white riding clothes white again without being as toxic.

  3. Christa R.

    Borax is good..but I think it is also pretty toxic…I generally just avoid wearing white in the vicinity (ie-the same hemisphere) as horses/other animals!

    1. Olivia Post author

      I avoid white as well, but the horsey rulers decided long ago that whites are required for showing. So I keep my whites aside and only use them for that. But I am not rich enough to have my own grooms, so I still end up getting them dirty.

  4. LoveLaughRide

    I do something very similar. I soak them in Oxyclean and the hottest water possible. I can’t use bleach due to our septic tank but I find doing without doesn’t really affect how white things get.

  5. irishhorse

    Love this. Your white breeches look amazing! (And I love the irony of the large box store bucket with the slogan “Let’s do this”). I have a similar don’t. I pour lots of borax in with my smelly technical clothes. Then I use straight vinegar in the bleach dispenser, and add a slosh or 4 to the detergent dispenser. And a little detergent. Wash in the non-recommended warm or hot. Smelly clothes no longer smelly! It’s supposed to not work. It does for me. So either I have a magical washer or…?

    1. Olivia Post author

      The bucket is hilarious. I’m sure HD would not approve. I tried vinegar on these and it wasn’t enough, but maybe with the borax.

  6. Jamie

    I actually saw something on FB where someone took their kid’s baseball pants to the car wash, pinned them to the wall, & blasted the stains out with the pressure washer. :/ I have NO idea if it was serious or a joke, but the stains did pressure wash out! 😀

  7. Nicole Sharpe

    LOL. I do the same thing, minus the bleach. My experience in Kenya demonstrated to me that a good hand scrub will get out stains you didn’t think the harshest of chemicals would remove. So I dump my clothes in a bucket with water and OxiClean (I use warm enough water to activate the OxiClean but not so hot as to set stains in), add a little standard detergent, and soak. Then I scrub and scrub and scrub with my hands, and scrub some more. You can truly get almost anything out that way.

    1. Olivia Post author

      It’s about how I clean anything. Haphazardly, with no regard for reading the directions, and with minimal expectations.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I tried this in the past without the same results as with the bleach, but I wonder if now that I’ve gotten them to a cleaner state I could skip the bleach.

  8. Liz

    Your approach is how I do most things with stains. Screw chemicals, OUT DAMNED SPOT, OUT! I do at least make sure I’m in a well ventilated area. It’s all I can manage to do correctly.

  9. Micaylah

    Stains are my life. Just bought oxiclean. Attempting to become less of a gremlin and hopefully get stain free and not have to throw away clothes (jk I keep using them in the privacy of my own home)

    1. Olivia Post author

      Oxiclean is seriously awesome. I avoided it for so long bc I thought it must not work if they made cheesy informercials about it, but it does.

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