How to Wash an Aikido Hakama - The Right Way

How to Wash an Aikido Hakama - The Right Way
How to Wash an Aikido Hakama - The Right Way
Your hakama is your pride and joy, isn't it? At the very least it needs to be presentable and clean for practice. So you might be wondering: How can I best wash my Hakama? And how can I do it in a way that the pleats will remain and I will not damage my hakama? You want to do it the right way.

In this post, we will investigate how we can wash our hakama the right way.

Why wash your Hakama

But first, let's go over the reasons why you might want or even need to wash a hakama.

There are a few reasons why you would want to wash or clean your Aikido Hakama.

The first one is obvious. It is when your hakama has become dirty and smelly after a few practice sessions. Aikido sessions can be intense and most of us will sweat a lot, at least I do.

The second reason is when you have just bought a new hakama. It may still smell after the factory or storage facility it has been in. And of course, you want to be sure it is really clean before you put it on for the first time.

Some fabrics may contain residues of chemicals that might irritate the skin. So you would want to wash these out before wearing the hakama.

No Washing

Still, sometimes it is just best to not wash your hakama, or at least wash it as less often as possible.

Here are some tips to extend the no washing time of your hakama:
  • Always hang out your hakama to air after wearing it for practice.
  • Buy more than one hakama, so you can interchange between them and let them air even more between practices.
  • If within your control, make sure the tatami (mat) of the dojo is clean to prevent unnecessary staining and dust collection
  • Use a steam machine or iron with steam to refresh your hakama while it is hanging out.

Before Washing a new Hakama

The first thing you should do before washing a new hakama is to read the wash care label. Let's have a look at the symbols/instructions in the below example. This is how I read the symbols on the top of the label from left to right:
  • Hand wash at 30 degrees
  • No chemical treatment, so no dry cleaning
  • Light ironing possible at 1 dot
  • Spin dry
Check The Wash Care Label in Your New Hakama
Check The Wash Care Label in Your New Hakama
I cannot read the fabric composition from the wash care label, but I am sure it is a mixture of cotton and polyester. A modern Aikido Hakama is often made of fabric that is a blend of cotton and polyester. Cotton gives it that authentic feel, while the polyester makes it stronger and more durable.

Washing a New Indigo Blue Hakama

If you have a traditional indigo-dyed hakama, then it is most likely 100% cotton. Indigo dye is beautiful, but it cannot be fixated into the fabric. Therefore the blue dye will keep rubbing off for some time. To limit this rubbing off of the dye from a new indigo blue hakama, you can do the following:

Hand wash your Indigo Blue Hakama with water and some vinegar.

Or even better, leave the hakama overnight in a tub filled with water and some vinegar. The acid in the vinegar will help fixate the dye and the washing will remove excess dye residue.

How to Hand Wash Your Hakama

If you want to hand wash a new hakama, then simply take it out of the packaging and leave the hand stitching that holds the pleats in place. Do not unfold the hakama.

If it is not a new hakama, but one that you have been wearing, then fold it before washing.

Submerge your folded hakama a few times in lukewarm water. Be sure the inside of the folded hakama is also absorbing the water.

After washing gently press out the water from the garment using your hands.

The below video will show you the process of hand washing a hakama.

How to Hand Wash Your Hakama

What Detergent to Use When washing a Hakama?

I have found that it is not really necessary to use a detergent to wash my hakama unless there were stains on it. Still, if you want to use some sort of soap to make your hakama smell nicer, then I would suggest using a shampoo.

I would refrain from using aggressive cleaning chemicals. And as most common detergents are just that, I would advise against using any washing detergent to clean a hakama.

Drying Your Hakama

You can dry your hakama by putting it in a dry spinning machine (also see the video above). Again keep your hakama folded and wrap it in a towel or put it in a special net. You can also use a pillowcase.

Just make sure you put the hakama in a cover that will prevent the fabric from directly rubbing against the inside of the machine, so the color will not fade.

Keep the Koshita (backplate) flat.

After spinning, refold the hakama while it is still wet. This way you can press in the pleats. Then hang the hakama out to dry on a hanger. While the hakama is hanging on out the dry you may follow the folds with your hands and reinforce them by placing pinches. that will keep the pleats nice and tight.

Do not hang your hakama in direct sunlight to prevent discoloration of the fabric.
And of course, hang it in a well-ventilateed area.

Dry cleaning

The problem with dry cleaning is that the pleats may get messed up.
Solution: put in a few stitches to hold the pleats in place.

Ironing your hakama

After washing your hakama a few times you may want to iron it, so you can press in the pleats. Below is a video showing you how you can iron your hakama. Please note that ironing, in general, takes practice and skill. So it may not be as simple to do yourself as it may look in the below video.
Ironing your Aikido Hakama

Good luck washing, drying and ironing your hakama.