I have been practicing Aikido for almost 25 years and I have only had a couple of Hakama. Hakama are generally very durable, but you do want to keep them nice and clean so they can be worn for many years.
The best way, I have found, to clean a hakama is to have it dry cleaned by a professional dry cleaner. A good dry clean service can also repress the pleats of the hakama to make it look new.
How much does it cost to dry clean your Hakama
In the Netherlands where I live, I usually pay around €35 to dry clean my Hakama. If I also want to have my hakama repressed then I will pay an extra €25. Of course, these prices can differ in your location. Just go and check with your local dry cleaners service if they offer this service in the first place. And then just get a quote for dry cleaning your hakama and maybe for pressing it.
How to clean a hakama by yourself
You can also clean your hakama yourself. This is not too difficult.
If you just got a new hakama then you can leave the strings that keep the hakama folded in place, and just put it in a tub of lukewarm water.
If you have already worn your hakama then you will need to fold your hakama and then wash it folded up.
Simply wash your hakama by holding it in lukewarm water without any detergents. Make sure that also the inside of the folded hakama becomes fully dispersed with the lukewarm water. Push the hakama in the water and pull it back out again. Repeat this about three to four times. That should be enough.
After washing, keep your Hakama folded and put it in a tumbler to spin it almost dry. Put your hakama in a pillowcase or in a washing net before you put it into the tumbler. This will prevent your hakama from fading color and will prevent wear on the fabric.
After tumbling you can best refold the hakama while it is still moist. This way you can fold in the pleats nicely. Then hang it out on a hanger or washing line to try further. Do not hang your Hakama in the sunlight to prevent its color from fading.
For guided instruction, I found this great video. Please see the video.
How to remove sweat stains off your hakama
It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. When it’s been really hot and you have been practicing and sweating a lot, you might get some nasty sweat stains, especially in the back area. The easiest way to get rid of these stains is to take a damp cloth and rub this over the stained area. Her is another video on how to go about this.
How often should you wash or clean your hakama
I tend to wash my hakama every half year. This is a good average. Of course, if you train frequently and heavily then you might need to wash your hakama more frequently. Then every 2 years I take it to the dry cleaners.
What other aikidoka do
I asked a few other Aikidoka what they do when it comes to washing and cleaning their hakama. Most take it to the dry cleaners as I do. Depending on how often they trained they said they do this every half year, or just once a year. They also do other things to main the hakama in good condition. Let’s have a look at that.
Things you can do to maintain your hakama in the best condition
Hang it out to air
What I, and all the aikidoka that I asked, do is we air the hakama after each practice. This means we do not keep it stuffed in our sporting bag until the next training session. Instead, at home, we take it out of our bags, unfold it and hang it in a dry and low light place. I usually refold it the next day and put it in my bag ready for the next practice session.
Always fold it nicely
Always fold the hakama when you are not wearing or airing it. This makes sure the pleats stay nice and neat. So don’t just wrap it up after practice and place it in your bag even if you intend to take it out immediately when you come home.
Store dry and dark
If it is folded or unfolded, always keep the hakama dry and store it in a dark place, never in direct sunlight.
Treat the hakama with respect
In general, treat the hakama with respect. I always like to think that the way someone treats his or her hakama is the way that person treats most things and the people around him or her.
How do you fold a hakama
Folding a hakama can be a challenge, especially for beginners. But like everything in life, it will become a habit with practice. Here is a video and description of how I fold my hakama.
- I begin by holding the back plate, AKA koshi-ita, to my chest while standing.
- Looking down into the hakama I fold the inside leg/crotch to the right.
- Then I put the top front part of the hakama on top of the koshi-ita.
- I fold the koshi-ita back and hold the front part with my thumb.
- I straighten the back pleats and hold them closed at the bottom.
- I then lay the hakama on the floor on it’s back starting from the bottom.
- When it is on the floor I straighten the front pleats.
- I fold the sides in
- I fold the hakama two times in three parts
- And lastly I fold the straps.
What if my hakama has washing instructions that say do not dry clean
My current hakama has a washing label that is not 100% clear to me, but I think it means no-dry-cleaning. Still, I have had it dry-cleaned many times without any problems. When in doubt, just wash your hakama by hand.
Two or more hakama
You might be wondering: do I maybe need two or more hakama? Well, I practice quite frequently and I have never had the need for more than one hakama. It is not a piece of clothing you wear directly on the body, so even if you train hard and sweat a lot the hakama will remain relatively clean. But he, if you are a sweater, or just like to have a spear hakama laying around, by all means, buy a second hakama.