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Tips for Removing Stains From Your Vintage Garments


Vintage clothes can have a multitude of stains as a result of their journey over the years. Chances are if they have managed to stay good contrition for as long as they have, they are fairly durable and resilient, however, there maybe a few undesirable blemishes that need to be spruced up.

All of these tips are based on using the most natural and chemical free methods available. Not only are they safer for the garment but, they are also kinder to the environment. Most of these methods will not damage the integrity of the fabric any further, so it is worth trying one of these methods before resorting to chemical dry cleaning.

If you are not sure whether water will damage the fabric, do a small spot test on a discreet area of the garment like a inside hem or the under arm. Blot with a white cloth to see if there is any color transfer.

Do not use these methods if a garment is rare, valuable, or antique.

Rub with plain toothpaste and rinse well. Do not use toothpaste with coloring or a gel.

Rub a slice of white bread over the stain


Make a paste of baking soda and water or salt and water and rub into stain, rinse well.

Make a paste of salt and water and rub over stain, rinse well.

Make a paste of crushed aspirin, cream of tartar and water and rub into stain. Let stand for 20 minutes and rinse well.

Drop one tablet of aspirin in wash with garment (either machine or hand).

Make a solution of 1 tbs. of white vinegar and 1 cup water, dab on stain, rinse well. If the 1 to 1 vinegar solution is not strong enough you can apply undiluted vinegar to the stain and launder normally.

NOTE: Perspiration stains are PERMANENT in silk and linen. Do not attempt to remove.

Ring around the collar
Rub a mild shampoo into stain, let stand for a few minutes, rinse well. Bluing shampoos for gray hair like Shimmer Lights can help counteract the yellow color of the stain.

Do apply water without detergent or it will cause the stain to set.

Oxy Clean® may remove grease, but be sure to use a spray (either prepared or manufactured version) or make a paste. Remember not to wet the fabric with water first and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Stretch garment over a pot of boiling water (being sure to avoid getting remaining fabric near the heat) and sprinkle with fresh lemon juice, rinse well. Repeat as many times as necessary. Do not use pre packaged lemon juice as they have additives and preservatives that may affect the fabric.

Stretch garment over a pot of boiling water or steam with kettle or steamer and cover the stain with cream of tartar. Rinse immediately.

Unknown stain
Rub with diluted hydrogen peroxide and rinse well.

Mix diluted ammonia and glycerin and rub onto stain, rinse well.

Mildew is permanent and cannot be removed.

* About.com and the Vintage Clothing Guide are not responsible for any damage made to vintage items while using these methods.

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