Essential Tips for Rejuvenating Your Festival Wardrobe

Article by: Marcus Barnes|@mgoldenbarnes

Tue September 05, 2017 | 11:00 AM

Getting dirty is one of the perils of having fun. In fact, you’ve probably avoided any kind of fun at festivals if you haven’t at least worked up a sweat. Making a mess of yourself (and others) during a fun-filled festival adventure is like a badge of honour, that telling splodge of paint on your t-shirt, the twinkles of glitter in your hair that last for weeks afterwards, or the dreaded Playa dust that plagues all Burners and serves as a perpetual reminder of their experience at Black Rock City .

However, there comes a time when your sequinned cape has lost its vigour and all you’re left with is a pile of washing that feels almost impossible to get through, especially when you need to get rid of thick layers of mud or deeply ingrained dust. So we thought it would be helpful to our readers if we put together a guide on how to cleanse and revive your festival wardrobe to give it a sparkling new life.


Glastonbury 2014 Paul Townsend Cc
Glastonbury 2014. Photo by: Paul Townsend Creative Commons

Mud can actually pose more of a problem than you think. At first, it looks as though a simple rubdown will eradicate the presence of any seemingly innocuous, muddy skid marks on your clothes. But often mud can leave deep stains, which are especially embarrassing if they’re on the backside of what you wear on your bottom half. Mud poses a constant risk to the cleanliness of your festival garments, especially for us here in Europe and the UK, where rain will often cause festivals to become mudbaths.

Allowing the mud to dry is the first part of the process of "de-mudding," if you try to remove it when it’s still wet, the mud stains can spread easily and cause a lot more damage. So start by letting the outfit dry. Once dry, you can use a stiff brush to get rid of most of the mud, hopefully leaving behind a faint brown mark which can then be treated as follows…

Soaking: Sometimes simply leaving your festie gear in a tub of cold water will help lift any stains out of the material, so you don’t even have to wash them.

Washing: A normal wash, once all the heavier muddy chunks are brushed off, is usually enough to get your festie fancy dress gleaming once again.

If it’s still stained, then we’d definitely advise investing in one of the many natural remedies out there – one of the most potent of which is bicarbonate of soda. So, buy some of that first and try soaking you garments, rather than buying a ghastly, and expensive, stain removal product that’s full of harmful chemicals.



Face paints are usually quite easy to remove; in fact, they are made to be removed easily and, if not, you need to complain to the company who manufactured it. That said, we have seen a lot of people left with stained skin after entering the fray at one of the many Holi events that take place at festivals around the world. It's highly amusing, of course, and perfect for breaking the ice during the festival, though probably not ideal when you’re back in the office or on the train to work a few days after getting home.

Again, we are only going to recommend natural methods for dealing with this – the last thing we would encourage is using something that can be abrasive to your skin. The first step is to apply a generous amount of oil (coconut or olive works best) to the affected areas.

Next you can either use cold water (yikes!) to gently work the stains out of your skin. If that’s not to your liking, you can always try lemon juice, which is a natural bleaching agent. If you leave it for 15 minutes or so, it should help to break down the pigments and leave you looking a little less red-faced.

REMEMBER: Do NOT try to scrub the hell out of your skin. Not only is it very bad for you to rub layers of the epidermis away but it can also make the stains worse by working the paint deeper into your skin.

For paint-stained fabrics, the method is similar to that of mud, dust and grass stains – a long soak in cold water should help get you on your way.


Shambala Festival 2015 Carolina Faruolo   01

Glitter is beautiful. We all love it, it’s so pretty to look at, and it complements a festie outfit like nothing else. BUT, and this really is a big but (and we cannot lie), glitter is one of the single most difficult things to clean away once it’s in your hair/on your face/on your clothes. We’ve had times when glitter has fallen out of our hair weeks after a festival, much to the amusement of whoever is around to witness such a magical moment. Here’s how to eradicate that sparkly stuff from everything, if you so wish…

Clothing: We’ve read a lot of literature from experts suggesting using tape or a lint roller, but it was a parenting forum called Netmums where we found a great technique. All you have to do is use aerosol hairspray, leave it to dry, and then wash it (make sure you wash it by itself, or the glitter will just get stuck on all the other items in the load!).

Hair: Oil is our saviour here. Put olive oil in your hair and then wash it as normal, and the glitter should come out. It may take more than one wash but it’s way more effective than simply washing it with shampoo alone.

Skin: Oil is also pretty nifty here. This time use coconut oil and make circular movements on the affected areas. You can utilise cotton pads to make the job easier (and avoid spreading the glitter to your hands!).


Burning Man  Art Gimbel 7

Photo by: Art Gimbel

If you’re a Burner, new or old, there is probably only one thing that will challenge your cleaning prowess when you get back to the "default world" and that is the Playa dust. Many of us embrace it, and even those who are averse to it have to learn to accept it – there is no escape from the highly alkaline powder that covers everything in its wake, from top to bottom. As we all know, it can actually damage a lot of things, your skin included, so it’s important to clear that dust away as soon as you can. Doing it while you're at Black Rock City can be futile, but afterwards it’s often essential. So, besides the all-important, highly satisfying post-Burn shower and RV hose-down, you should also try brushing down anything else that has been coated in grey dust when you get it home.

Some people like to lay out their tents in their gardens, or in any open space and hose them down. Others use a brush to get rid of the excess before they throw washable belongings in the washing machine, sometimes more than once, to get the dust out. If it’s unwashable, a rinse/soak/wipe it down with a cloth dipped in apple cider vinegar (which neutralises the alkaline dust).

So, it’s really as simple as 1) brushing the item and 2) washing it in the necessary manner.

REMEMBER: If you are feeling precious about anything, first of all it may be useful to just leave it at home if you’re that worried about it getting dusty. Second, you can avoid any irreparable damage by cleaning it as soon as you can and not leaving it to fester.Also bear in mind that some items will never recover, and you have to be ready to accept that.


Secret Garden Party 2013 Danny Norths

Grass stains can come from a variety of amusing incidents, from drunken falls, to falling over midway through a silly themed race, to a naughty fumble in the bushes. However you picked them up, there is only one surefire of getting rid of them.

As with other stains, a good long soak in cold water works wonders. Hot water is NOT the way to do it, as it will actually set the stain into fabric and make it even harder to remove. So put your item(s) in a bowl of cold water and leave them to soak for a few hours, then get to work with a gentle brush – maybe incorporate an apple cider vinegar and water solution – and after that, just throw them in the wash and the stains should disappear. Voila!

These techniques can also be applied to food stains, lipstick/make up, human secretions (yep, we said it!) and grease stains (which need hot water treatment, NOT cold).