Your fencing clothing may have come with it’s own care instructions, if so, follow those.
Otherwise, your clothing can generally be washed normally in cold or warm water (max 40C) in the washing machine. Avoid bleach or other harsh chemicals, a little discolouration over time is normal and no one will notice. Dry in the shade, avoid tumble drying. Some of the ballistic fabrics will shrink in the dryer!
Your sweat will damage the fabric over time, so the common practice of only washing kit when it walks to the washing machine itself is not recommended. However for most people it is also not necessary to wash after every session. Take the kit out of your bag to air dry between uses, and remember to wash it at least semi-regularly.
Gloves may be advertised as washable, but the process is somewhat damaging to the leather/fabric of the palm and fingers. For a long life, wash your glove only occasionally, and consider hand-washing.
Repair: The life of your clothing and gloves can be extended by patching any holes or worn patches, and sewing up rips.
When doing this you must be careful not to leave anything a blade can catch on, fold the edges of patches underneath, and sew over the edge.
If your clothing is FIE standard, after repairs it may not pass a competition weapons check, but will still be suitable for training in.
Maintenance: Avoid folding or scrunching up your lamé as much as possible – this will damage the metal threads.
Your lamé shouldn’t need very much cleaning, once or twice a year is fine. Depending on how much you perspire, you may need to wipe the lining dry after use, and it is always a good idea to hang your lamé to air when not in use. Keep it in a dry place, not wrapped in your sweaty kit.
If the exterior of the lamé does get significant perspiration on it, rinse it off in plain water and hang to dry. Never rub or scrub the metal threads. Areas most likely to need rinsing are at the armpits and neck, and cuffs of the sleeves.
Some lamés advertise that they can be machine washed. It’s still advisable to do this infrequently.
If your lamé contains a high percentage of copper, you may get corrosion if you wash it – washing of copper lamés is not recommended.
Repair: Usually a high resistance reading can be reduced by washing the affected area with ammonia or an ammonium-based mild detergent like Woolite. If you can’t wash it, a light sanding with a scotchbrite pad may do the trick.
For completely dead areas where the metal threads have broken, you can sew a lamé patch over them, touch up the area with conductive paint, or declare the lamé suitable only for practice.
Any rips can be sewn up, make sure you don’t leave anything on the exterior that might cause a blade to catch.
Your mask may have removable, washable lining. If so you can throw the lining into the washing machine (inside a laundry bag if you have one). It’s best not to do this too often as it will reduce the life of the lining & velcro.
If you don’t have removable padding, simply use a cloth to wipe the mask with soapy water, pat dry then allow to air until completely dry. You can also do this to removable padding if you don’t want to take it out.
Between washes, you can keep your mask fresh and in good condition by giving it a light wipe inside with a damp cloth or wet-wipe. This will reduce the frequency with which you need to wash it. Remember to let it dry completely after fencing sessions.
Dents in the mesh can usually be pushed or hammered out.
Take care not to damage the insulation on the mesh wire of épée masks. Touch up any breaks in the insulation with a polymer paint to prevent rust.
Fabric tears can be sewn shut, although may not pass a competition weapons check after being damaged.
Lamé material on sabre masks can develop “dead spots”. On masks it is often easiest to re-cover the whole area, which is where the more expensive X-change system masks are very useful. Other masks need to be refurbished by a suitably experienced person – Kayt at Fencing Imports is authorised by most manufacturers to repair their masks.
Note that FIE masks are usually lose their FIE rating once they are refurbished.