I may have mention before just how much I love doing laundry. I really find enjoyment from seeing something that is stained blossom into something clean and completely wearable. This past weekend I attempted something I have never tried before and it was very successful! I thought I would share my tips for safely removing unsightly odors from vintage clothing.
For removing slight odors such as stale smoke, moth balls, and just overall smell from years of storage, I recommend Borax. It been around since 1891 and because of that I feel it's good to use on vintage clothes, since it more than likely was used on the clothes years ago. I also like it because it's natural. I tried it out for the first time a few days ago on a few new items of vintage clothes that had light odors and light stains. I must say, I was greatly impressed. I followed the directions on the back of the box for deodorizing baby clothes and it worked wonderfully. I always do a follow up of a swish in water that has a little bit of Gain softener in it to give the items the fresh laundry smell and to make them soft.
A word of caution: I have read online and my mom has warned against using Borax with other cleaners (such as Shout or OxiClean) other than the laundry detergent because it can have a chemical reaction. The few times I have used it, the directions on the back proved to work the best.
This next tip is my new absolute favorite discovery. A few days ago I found this really great late 40's dress at Mother Fletchers for a steal; the only problem was it reeked of B.O. I had read online on a few different question and answer forums that vinegar would remove the smell. I was a bit skeptical but decided that this dress was the prefect candidate for the experiment.
I first tried the Borax because I wanted to test it up against a tough B.O. It did work to slightly remove the smell, but it still was very overpowering. I made sure that I rinsed the dress well because of the acid-base mix between the Borax and the vinegar.
After rinsing, I made sure the dress was damp, not sopping wet. I read that a solution of 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar worked well in a spray bottle. I mixed up the water in vinegar and sprayed it all over the dress, focusing on the spots were the B.O. was the worst. I let that set in for a few hours, hanging in a cool, dry place. Then, without rinsing, I placed the dress into a tub of water with Gain laundry detergent in it. (I prefer the original scent) I let this soak for the rest of the day and over night.
The following afternoon I rinsed out the dress and rolled the water out of it with a towel and hung to dry. When I went to smell the dress today after it was all dry, I was was amazed that the smell was completely gone. There was also no fading to the dress either.
I was sooooo happy that this worked because I had purchased a dress of eBay and it arrived with a B.O. smell. I was so disappointed because I always make sure and ask before I buy any clothing items online. (The seller said it didn't have any odors). So now that I know this works, the next time I find a great dress I won't shy away from it just because it smells!