How to Fluff Your Cheerleading Pom Poms

Three senior women in cheerleading uniforms with pom poms cheering

Bruce Laurance/Getty Images

What do you think of when you think of cheerleading? Pom poms of course! No high school football game would be complete without the sparkle and shake of pom poms in your school colors. Pom poms made their debut on the sidelines in the 1930s when they were made from paper streamers. As you can imagine, these pom poms didn't hold up well with regular use and unpredictable weather.

In 1953, Lawrence Herkimer, the famous 'Grandfather of Cheer', founded the Cheerleading Supply Company and started to commercially manufacture pom poms. The vinyl pom poms we have come to rely on for cheerleading weren't invented until 1965, by Fred Gastoff for the International Cheerleading Federation.

Pom poms are still an iconic symbol of cheerleading today. While some cheerleading squads don't use pom poms in their routines, these days, you will still see them displayed in gyms, so it goes without saying that as a cheerleader, you should know how to take care of pom poms.

The key to full, fabulous pom poms is to keep them fluffy. When they are stored and shipped from the warehouse, they are packed flat and tight in boxes to reduce the amount of space they take up, so when they arrive, your first task is to fluff them. Learn this simple method to get your new pom poms nice and fluffy.

How to Fluff Your Pom Poms

Here are the steps for fluffing a new set of pom poms:

  1. Unpackage your new poms. You will notice that they are very thin and flat from storage and shipping.
  2. Shake them out. Really shake them! You will need to get the strands to separate before you try to fluff them so that they do not clump together.
  3. Take a few strands in your hand and starting at the unattached end, scrunch them up. You can also do this by rubbing your hands together with the strands in between them, but be careful not to rip or damage the strands.
  4. Continue Step 3 until you've scrunched all the strands. Don't be tempted to scrunch too many strands together at once, you want no more than six or eight at a time. This might take a while, but the more time you take fluffing each strand, the better your pom pom will look.
  5. Repeat above on your second pom pom.
  6. Repeat the process anytime your pom poms start to look a little flat. Repeat fluffing should be much quicker and easier.

Tips to Keep Them Looking Great

  1. Keep poms away from extreme heat. Not only is it important to protect yourself from the heat-- you need to protect your poms. Leaving your pom poms in the back of the car on a hot summer day could result in them melting. If you do forget them, get them out of the heat as soon as possible and don't try to fluff them until the strands have cooled down.
  2. Keep poms away from water. Even if they aren't made from paper these days, it is still a good idea to keep your pom poms dry. Water can tarnish metallic pom poms and if left wet, pom poms can mildew.
  3. Store your poms in a pom bag. Keep them out of harm's way by storing them in their very own bag. It is best not to put them in your cheer bag because they are likely to get flattened. Drawstring bags, like the ones given away at some competitions, are the perfect way to store and carry your pom poms.

Edited by Christy Mitchinson