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Top Tips for Cleaning Vintage Clothing

April 15, 2019

Top Tips for Cleaning Vintage Clothing

We’ve all been there. You’re thrift/vintage shopping and you find the most perfect white blouse or leather boots. The only problem? Stains, scuffs, and that weird vintage smell. However, it’s totally possible for your vintage pieces to look like they’re right off the racks of the coolest new brand. How? These top cleaning tips that’ll make your vintage clothing pieces shiny and new again.

Top Tips for Cleaning Vintage Clothing

How to Get Rid of Vintage Smell

Your new vintage pieces likely won’t smell like a Tide pod or spring meadow. If the prominent odor doesn’t go with your look, here are some tried and true methods to removing that vintage smell. 

Activated Charcoal: It’s great at odor absorption and neutralization and is often found in pet supply stores to neutralize pet odor. Stick the smelly item in a bag or sealable container with the activated charcoal for as long as needed (from 24 hours to a week).  

Kitty Litter: It neutralizes cat odor – why not clothing? It also works on items you wouldn’t want to clean with water, like beaded or silk pieces. The super ingredient in kitty litter is activated charcoal, so you can save money by sealing your vintage pieces with this household staple instead.

White Vinegar: No, you won’t walk around smelling like a salad. Vinegar naturally counteracts any odors and the vinegar smell will disappear quickly. Salvage your stinky pieces by spraying them thoroughly.

Vodka: That’s right, bring out the Smirnoff (save the Grey Goose for a post-clean drink). Vodka works similarly to vinegar as a natural odor remover.

Steam: That’s right, you can get rid of the most pungent of smells with just water. Steam works well as an odor remover, especially if it’s scented.

How to Get Rid of Vintage Smell

How to Remove Yellowing and Stains

Don’t worry, vintage pieces seemingly destroyed by yellowing and mystery stains might not be lost forever. Your new best friends will be OxiClean and Borax.

2 Bees in a Pod outlined a perfect method for brightening your vintage pieces. Essentially, you add OxiClean to boiling water and soak your clothes in it for a while. Read her whole post on brightening vintage clothing for a detailed how-to guide.

Note: Here at ThisBlueBird, we do not recommend any water-based method on our vintage silk kimonos! Silk kimonos should be dry cleaned for best results.

How To Remove Common Stains InfographicSource: Tech Insider

If you’re not too sure about a mystery stain and it’s not coming out, try one of these common stain removal tactics to make your garment fresh and new again.

How to Clean Leather & Suede

How to Clean Leather & Suede

Don’t automatically say no to a pair of vintage loafers or a briefcase because of a few pesky scuffs or stains. These can be easily removed with the right products.

Saddle Soap: Horse saddles can be cleaned, why can’t your accessories? You can clean numerous pieces with this heavy-duty cleaner and all you’ll need is a damp cloth.

Shoe Polish: Shoe polish can be used for more than just shoes – especially colored shoe polish. This saving grace is perfect for colored handbags that have been marked or scratched.

Leather Conditioner: If the leather you’re working with is simply dried out and in need of some love, leather conditioner is a milder alternative to saddle soap. It’ll moisturize the leather and bring it back into beautiful condition.

 Suede Eraser: Suede is like that one guy you know isn’t right for you, but you keep coming back to – it’s just complicated. Take the complications out of the equation by getting a suede eraser. It’ll remove scuffs, stains, and dirt from any suede items.





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