As a cheerleader, my typical competition days have always been filled with several traditional and somewhat superstitious preparation tools. And yes, most of these habits revolve around food and/or makeup. To fuel up to compete, I start my morning with a fast food chicken biscuit and sweet tea – so nutritious right? Then, I brush my teeth and proceed to put on tons (and I mean TONS) of lipstick. As a final preparation, I add about 3 extra pounds to my weight in hairspray.

Now, although we cheerleaders are poised and graceful in the air, I think I speak for all of us when I say nobody’s perfect. As soon as your team sees a sports drink cooler, we all know that someone somewhere is going to spill something. By 9 AM on competition day, several incidents will occur:

  • I will get fast food or sweet tea on my uniform.
  • I will get make-up and lipstick on my uniform.
  • My hairspray will accidentally open up in my cheer bag and will get everywhere.

It’s a good thing Varsity competition wear is battle-tested. Here are some tips from the experts on how to keep your competition wear fresh and clean this season:

  • Before each competition, wash your uniform separately with a mild detergent. Do NOT use fabric softener. (After all, your Powerfit is already soft – why mess with perfection?)
  • Tide is recommended for a good wash. Do NOT use bleach. Seriously, if you use bleach on any clothes, please expect to be cordially invited to a trip on the Hot Mess Express. I have NEVER heard of a “I used bleach to fix it and it worked!” story.
  • Be sure to take your uniform out of the washer promptly after the cycle has finished! Your coach will not buy your excuses for a wrinkled uniform.
  • As soon as it has been washed, immediately hang it up to dry. I repeat – hang it up to dry. This means you need to wash it early enough so that it is dry by the time you need to wear it.
  • Never use fabric softener. I may sound like a broken record, but softener blocks your Varsity uniform’s Visa treatment which releases stains and dirt.
  • Don’t dry clean or iron your uniform. The uniform is made for easy washing, so enjoy. Dry cleaning can often fade and yellow the material, so unless you want to put a permanent #ThrowbackThursday filter on your uniform, just keep using your trusty, loyal washer at home.
  • If your uniform is made with Celebration, Sequins, Rhinestones, Lycra, or Mesh materials, you need to hand wash and hang dry your uniform.
  • Don’t be too proud to tuck napkins or a towel around your neck while you put on your make-up and hairspray. Also invest in a lipstick that will not bleed – cheerleader, dancer, or not, non-bleed lipstick is just an altogether good investment!
  • Here’s a great tip on how to finally get your shoes clean and bright white: Try the dishwasher (Not at the same time as your dishes, of course). The most important rule to remember about cleaning your cheer shoes in the dishwasher is to take the shoes out BEFORE the machine puts on the heat cycle! No one wants to come back to a surprise melted puddle of shoes. Keep the shoes in the dishwasher just for the first rinse, then stop the washer immediately! Then, just let them air dry overnight and you’ll be good to go.
  • For minor shoe stains, try using baking soda or whitening toothpaste for a quick fix!

Now, that your uniform and shoes are clean and good as new, you’re ready to radiate your perfect look out on the competition mat. Your hard work and perfect style are going to be a show-stopping combination on the mat this season!