last revision: January 14th 2014How to: gothic clothing washing guide

Customers of our online shop know that they will get good quality items whenever they buy goth clothes from us, and this guide was written to help you make sure you'll enjoy your newest purchase for a long time.

All apparel will become dirty eventually and you will need to do some cleaning, but washing your items the wrong way can actually damage them.

So unless you want to be left standing in your undies like the lady on the left, here are a few quick tips and tricks, and some more in-depth advice on how to handle the cleaning of your clothing.

And please remember, this guide is meant as advice only, and to be sure to avoid damage to your items, always follow the instructions on the label provided by the manufacturer or brand.


  1. Quick tips and tricks
  2. Cleaning recommendations by fabric type
  3. Cleaning recommendations by stain type
  4. How to understand the washing instruction symbols

Quick tips, tricks and best practices for cleaning your gothic clothing

  • always check pockets and make sure they're empty – forgetting a paper handkerchief will reward you with lots and lots of white specks on your otherwise beautifully black clothes

  • always wash your clothing inside out to protect the visible surface and graphic prints

  • when ironing your clothing, placing a damp towel between the item and the iron will protect the fabric

  • hanging your clothing while still wet reduces wrinkles and reduces shrinking

  • always remove all removable metal parts like bondage straps and belts

  • do not wash items with metal parts together with delicate items

  • close fasteners and zippers to prevent snagging

  • tie strings loosely to prevent tangling

  • familiarize yourself with the settings on your washing machine; when in doubt, always wash cold and use low-speed tumble

Our personal washing machine recommendation

Many clothing brands and manufacturers prefer to play it safe and label all of their apparel as hand-washing or dry-cleaning only. But truth is, almost all of the gothic clothing we sell in our online shop can be machine-washed. Personally, all of our staff do their own laundry, and they all machine wash their clothes. Modern washing machines have settings for delicate clothing, as well as low temperature washing and low-speed tumbling.

So when we wash our own clothes, we put them in the machine inside-out, set the machine to delicate, 30°C washing temperature and 600 RPM spinning speed, put in some color detergent (we use a special black fabric detergent, but any bleach-free color detergent will do). On 600 RPM, the clothing will still be moist when removed from the machine, and we'll just hang it to dry on a coat hanger. And voila, next day we will have some clean, dry and wrinkle-free goth clothing, without needing to iron.

The bleach-myth

There still are many people who believe that unless you can bleach your clothing, it won't be clean. But that's a myth, and you will be able to get perfectly clean clothing with regular color-detergent too. Unless you plan on taking your pretty goth clothes and playing in the dirt, there's no need for bleach.

Essential core knowledge about fabrics, stains and how to understand the care instructions labels in your clothes

In this section of our care and washing guide you will find more in-depth information about the most common fabrics found in the clothing we sell in our shop, as well as how to best clean them. We also cover the most important stain types, from blood and candle wax (how goth!) to deodorant stains and grease (how un-goth!).

1. The most common types of fabric and materials used in goth clothing or jewellery and how to clean them


Example of a cotton shirtMost of the gothic clothing we sell in our online shop is made from cotton, or cotton like fabrics. The majority will be made from 100% cotton fabric, but many manufacturers like to mix fibers and add materials like elastane or rayon, to improve the fit of the garments or the comfort of wear. These mixed fibers are usually cleaned the same way 100% cotton clothes are cleaned, which means that low temperature machine washing should not be a problem.


Wool is a more delicate fabric than cotton, and is often used in knitted clothing, or for jackets as it has great warming properties. It is by nature a little more delicate and thus requires special attention when cleaning. We recommend using a clothing brush to remove most stains and dirt, and if you really need to get more thorough cleaning, dry cleaners are usually the best option. Some items can also be machine washed if you put them in a special laundry bag.


Velvet or crush-velvet is a fabric often found in luxury items and is very popular for classic goth clothing and romantic Victorian apparel. It is a special fabric that requires careful cleaning, so you should always follow the instructions on the label. Synthetic fabric velvet is usually washable at home, but always hand-wash it, never put it into the washing machine. You should also use a damp cloth to try to remove any resistant stains before hand-washing, and than you should let the clothes drip dry on a flat rack. Use a clothing brush to restore the nap of the fabric as it dries, always brushing in the same direction. For cotton or silk type velvets, dry cleaning is advised.


Satin is also a delicate luxury fabric often used in classic goth fashion, and requires care when cleaned to prevent damaging the sheen and delicate surface. We recommend hand washing for most items, unless the label specifies that dry cleaning or machine washing is ok.

PVC / Vinyl

Since the very early days of the gothic scene there has always been a certain amount of fascination for kinkyness, and many artists and bands have borrowed fetish and bondage accessories and apparel for their stage outfits. While currently not as popular as it was in the late 90's and early 00's, there's still a faire share of PVC clothing worn in the dark scene. And luckily it is a material that cleans very easily, basically all you need is a damp cloth and some water, and rub of all the dirt, then polish the clothing with a dry cloth (microfiber works great!).

Faux-leather / leatherette

Faux-leather, leatherette or imitation leather is usually a synthetic fabric with the same properties as plastic, and is usually easy to clean. Just like PVC or vinyl, use a damp cloth and maybe some soap to rub of the dirt and stains, then dry with a clean cloth.

Genuine leather

Genuine leather is usually quite stain resistant, and for most daily purposes gently brushing dirt of with a cloth brush will be more than enough. A basic wiping with a damp cloth should also do the trick. But if you have a hard to remove stain, we recommend getting special purpose leather soap or stain-removal spray. Gently rub the stain with a soft cloth, and avoid rough cloths or sponges, as these might damage or scratch the leather. Also avoid rubbing too hard or too long in the same spot, as you might accidentally discolor the leather.


Our online shop stocks a selection of gothic jewellery made from silver, mainly pendants and rings. Silver can and will lose its lustre over time, especially if in continuous contact with your body, it is likely to tarnish. Fortunately, this is easy to fix. We recommend using a silver polishing cloth, which you can get from any jewellery store. They are inexpensive, and you will be able to shine up your favorite items in no time. No need for special polish, the cloth will be more than enough for most purposes.

Pewter jewellery by Alchemy GothicPewter

We also stock a large selection necklaces and pendants by Alchemy Gothic, who make hand-cast jewellery from English Pewter mainly, with the occasional brass and copper inlay, and of course authentic Swarovski crystals. Pewter can tarnish just like silver, and can develop a patina over time. And luckily, just like silver, cleaning is pretty easy and straight-forward. Just use a non-abrasive polishing cloth (like the one we recommended previously) to restore the shine of your Alchemy Gothic jewellery, it will look dazzling and new in just a few minutes of gentle polishing.

2. Different types of stains and the recommended method to remove them from your apparel

The great advantage of wearing exclusively black apparel is that these clothes are much less subject to stains than the mainstream whites and color items. So luckily for us goths, we have less stain types to worry about. Still, a few threats persist and we will tell you how to best handle them.


We know what you're thinking, it is so cliché that blood of all things is our first entry in this list. But let's forget all the mainstream pre-conceived prejudices and vampire-related things for a moment, blood stains can be a real issue, even though they are barely visible on black clothing. They will still bake into the very fabric of your clothes, and will permanently damage them if not taken care of properly. The tricky part is that blood is hard to remove at low temperatures, so we recommend to pre-treat the stain with detergent before putting the item in the washing machine. As always, please be sure to carefully read the label first.

Candle Wax

The first thing, do NOT rub a fresh candle wax stain, you will worsen the damage. To correct way to remove candle wax is to apply ice to harden the wax, then to gently scrape it of. Most of the wax should come of easily when in hardened state. To remove the remaining wax that might have soaked into the fabric, we recommend getting a very absorbent paper towel (or blotting paper if available), and then slowly heat the way stain with an iron. The remaining wax will liquefy when warm, and the paper will soak it up. As always, check the label and be as careful as possible.

Perspiration and deodorant stains

Nothing too tricky, simply washing your clothing with color detergent should take of these stains, even at low temperature. In the case of a particularly resilient stain, gently rub in some of the detergent before washing. And be sure to check the clothing label first to make sure machine washing is ok.

Grease stains

Grease is the worst enemy of almost all gothic clothing, and can be very hard to remove, if possible at all. You should wash your clothing immediately if you get a grease stain, at the warmest temperature allowed on the clothing label. We also recommend gently rubbing the stain with detergent before putting into the washing machine. And please be careful with special grease stain removing sticks that are available, they can alter the color in addition to maybe removing the stain.

3. Care instruction labels – what do the symbols really mean?

Machine wash, coldMachine Wash, Cold – this symbol means that the garment can be laundered in a washing machine, but the water temperature should not exceed 30°C, or 65-85° Fahrenheit. In Europe this symbol will include the 30°C label, in the US it will have a single dot in the middle instead.

Bleach when neededBleach when needed – this symbol means that you can use any detergent containing bleach to wash this garment. Bleach is recommended on all white clothing, to keep it bright. As all the clothing we sell on our website tends to be black, you are more liked to see the next symbol on the label instead.


Do not bleachDo not bleach – no bleach or detergent containing bleach may be used. It will damage the fabric and / or color. Use any regular color detergent instead, they are just as good at making your clothes clean and beautiful again.


Iron, low temperatureIron, low temperature – regular ironing at low temperatures allowed, not exceeding 110°C or 230°F. You can use steam or dry ironing, and in case of doubt, placing a damp towel between the iron and your clothing will protect the fabric.


Do not ironDo not iron - many delicate fabrics can not withstand the heat of an iron, even at low temperatures. Instead, we recommend drip drying instead, it helps removing wrinkles.


Tumble dryTumble dry – the garment can be dried in a machine dryer. Clothing tends to shrink in machine dryers, so we always recommend low heat settings to protect the clothing. We also recommend putting delicate clothing or clothes with metal parts into a special laundry bag, to protect both the clothes and the machine from damage.


Do not tumble dryDo not tumble dry - if dry tumbling may not be used, drip-drying is usually the best alternative.


Hand washing onlyHand-washing – this symbol does not mean that you should wash you hands, it means you should wash the clothing by gentle hand manipulation and through the use of water and soap. It is most often recommended for delicate fabrics or clothing containing delicate details.


Dry cleaningDo not dry cleanDry clean & do not dry clean – there are different types of dry cleaning and different types of solvent used. If you take your goth clothing to the dry cleaners, we recommend asking for their expert advice first wether or not they can clean an item without damaging or altering it.


Your privacy is important to us. Even prior to the introduction of GDPR we have taken great care to protect your data. Find out what data we collect and how we use and protect it by reading our privacy notice.