How to Freshen Vintage Clothing with Vodka
Updated: Sep 9, 2022
Doing laundry too often is not only bad for the environment, it can be hard on your clothes too. Many times after wearing an article once, it isn't dirty... it may just need some freshening up in the armpits. Or maybe you sat at a restaurant too close to the kitchen and your outfit smells like that night's special.
And then for those vintage clothing lovers out there, you know many of the articles should only be dry cleaned. Even if you read my Article about at home dry cleaning and are already saving on your dry cleaning bill, this can be a lot of effort just to freshen up a garment after one wear.
Thank goodness there it a recipe... a cocktail, if you will... that solves these exact dilemmas.
Enter Vodka and a fine mist spray bottle.
This is a trick I learned from working in theatre. From Broadway to community theatre and everywhere in between, this is how costume professionals keep garments fresh and sanitized in between cleanings. Sometimes a costume can't be properly laundered until a day off from shows. This tried and true method will eliminate odors and even works when shows have big sweaty dance numbers.
After years of watching the wardrobe crews of the shows I was performing in go through the dressing rooms with spray bottles of vodka, it dawned on me--this is something I should be doing at home to give my clothing (especially dry clean only and vintage clothing) more wears in between washing.
So how does it work?
Vodka's effectiveness comes from it's high alcohol content which helps to not only disinfect, but also kill the bacteria that causes odor. Vodka kills bacteria by dissolving the cell membranes of the bacterial cells. It then dries odorless itself, and when it evaporates, so does the stink.
How to make your own spray:
-You will need a spray bottle. I recommend using a fine mist spray bottle if you are using this spray on delicate fabrics. For wools, and sturdier materials, any spray bottle will do fine.
-Vodka. There is no need buy any name brand or top shelf. Search for the cheapest with a high proof.
**note that you CAN use rubbing alcohol as a money saver here, but I have made/used both and I have to say I prefer the effects from the spray made with vodka over isopropyl alcohol.
You could stop right there. Just vodka in a fine mist spray bottle. Spray onto clothing and linens as needed.
But I highly recommend the addition of essential oils for added scent and cleaning power. Here are some of my favorite choices for clothing care and why I choose them:
Lemon- natural anti-fungal, disinfectant properties, and fresh scent
Lime- natural disinfectant properties and crisp scent
Tea Tree- naturally fights germs with antiseptic properties and earthy fresh scent
Lavender- natural antibacterial and calming scent
Peppermint- natural antibacterial and awakening scent
Rosemary- natural antibacterial properties and grounding scent
Eucalyptus- natural germ fighting properties and invigorating scent
Pine- natural deodorizer
I use a ratio of 4-6 drops of essential oil per 2 ounces of vodka.
It is important not to put too many drops of oil into your spray as it can effect some garments of clothing. Remember that essential oils are highly concentrated substances and each drop is very potent. I recommend starting with less and then adding more as you see fit.
My favorite Recipes & Ratios for a 10 ounce bottle:
10 drops of Lemon, 10 Lime, 5 Tea Tree
15 drops Lavender, 7 drops Lemon, 2 drops Rosemary
15 drops Peppermint, 5 drops Eucalyptus, 5 drops Lime
Let me know if you try this and what you think!!
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