If you wash them too often they lose colour, if you don’t wash them often enough they become smelly and crusty. Putting both kendogi and bogu out to dry in the sunshine has a deodorising effect, but as we have had so little summer sun in the UK this year, washing has become a necessity.
Kendo clothing should ideally be washed by hand in cold water without soap powder , so to do this to best effect and to find my grandson a useful occupation in the school holidays, I have developed the” Small-boy Kendo Washing Machine” or “Shonen Kendo Sentakuki”. The key components are a small boy, a bucket and a hosepipe.
To avoid blue dye in the house and the resultant discussions with non-kendoka partners or housemates, the garments to be washed, the boy, bucket and hosepipe should be taken somewhere in the garden where they can be hung out to dry (the keikogi that is, not the boy).
The keikogi and boy are placed in the bucket and he is given the hosepipe and instructions to half fill the bucket whilst jogging on the spot and to keep going for 20 minutes and a number of water changes. He may need some help on this one and have to be lifted out at each water change.
Once the boy has done his bit, you need to ensure that you rinse the blue dye off his feet before you hand him back. To dry hakama it is best to use a clip type hanger and turn the koshiita down in line with the front waistband. You can then pull the pleats in place before it dries, minimising or avoiding the need for ironing. Keikogi should be turned inside out and dried on a pole that passes through both sleeves. Special keikogi hangers that extend to the correct shape are available from most budo stores. My favourite method is to take a slat from a carbon fibre shinai, drill two holes in the centre and attach a hook through a string. Come to think of it this is to my mind, the best use of a carbon fibre shinai.
I am sure that these revelations will cause concern amongst right thinking people who shun the exploitation of minors, but rest assured I make the task less intimidating with a plentiful supply of ice lollies, Jaffa Cakes and Fizzy Fangs.