The smell of vintage clothes is very familiar. And the thing is, it lingers, no matter how many times you’ve washed ’em.
Arguably, the smell could be defined as “dewy”: It’s a combination of mothballs, the sweat of wearers past and a sprinkling of dirt, dust and grime. But not to worry: That reminder will be no longer with these simple steps for getting rid of the ol’ dew monster:
Me-ow! We’re talking fresh litter, here. If there’s poop or cat pee in there, you’re using the wrong batch. Now, the reason this works is because of the activated charcoal found in the ol’ pussycat gravel. It’s best for those pieces that hate to swim in a frothy washer, such as silks or anything with ornate embellishments. So, take a sealed bin or large resealable bag (basically, anything with a tight seal) and fill it with litter. Then, throw the items in with the litter and seal it all up real tight. It’s an odour-absorber, so the longer you keep your beaded dresses and silk capes in the bag, the better.
How long it takes: Leave ’em be for 24 hours to a week.
If you feel weird about putting your favourite vintage finds in a bag or bin with a heaping shovelful of kitty litter, do not fret. You can actually just use straight activated charcoal, if that’s more your scene. And, yes, it’s black, but the colour won’t stain your clothes because this, much like the litter, is a dry approach. You’ll find it at pet-food stores (it’s the same stuff that keeps fish tanks clean). The process is identical to the kitty litter, too.
How long it takes: Leave your items alone in a sealed bin with the charcoal for 24 hours to a week.
No, we’re not suggesting drinking until you forget the smell is there. Vodka is actually pretty darn good at absorbing odours, so take a spray bottle, fill it with cheapo vodka and spritz the heck out of your dresses, blouses and heirloom Hermes. Don’t worry: You won’t smell like booze all day; the vodka scent will disappear, much like the dew on your duds.
How long it takes: Spritz, set for 20-30 minutes, then wear.
Don’t want to waste any of your beloved vodka? Vinegar works just as well. But what about the smell, you ask? Vinegar stinks, yes, but thankfully, its natural odour dissipates, taking l’air de vintage with it. Seriously. It sounds crazy but it actually won’t leave you smelling sour. You aren’t, after all, taking a vinegar bath with your clothes on.
How long it takes: Spritz, wait for the vinegar smell to become non-existent, then wear.
This is one of the best options, so if you have a steamer, you’re in a good place. For the most penetrative clean (and your best chance to remove the stank), first, mix a few drops of your favourite essential oil with water in a spray bottle. Spritz the garment you’re about to clean and, then, make several passes with your steamer. It might take more than one pass, but this will totally make your clothes smell new again.
How long it takes: It really depends on how bad the garment smells. Be patient. Use your signature blend of essential oils, so the experience is pleasant.