Everyone knows the smell. Whether it’s referred to as musty, dank, or plain funky, the scent of vintage clothing shops is pervasive. Thankfully, these stores provide some of the greatest finds in the hunt for menswear. The unfortunate side of this all is that that signature smell tends to linger, well after you bring the item home. Sometimes that incredible 1970’s grandpa blazer you found can smell like…grandpa is still in it.
We put together a list of a few tried-and-true options to get rid of that vintage smell, including some more bizarre methods that you can try at your own risk.
1.) Distilled White Vinegar
Any cleaning aficionado knows that white vinegar is versatile for its cleaning abilities, and that includes vintage clothing. It’s gentle and all-natural, making it stand out from other harsh chemical cleaners. There are two primary ways to use vinegar to de-funk your clothing.
The first is to pour it in a bowl and hang the garment over it for a day or two; the vinegar will absorb the bad odor. The smaller the space that the clothing is hanging in over the bowl, the better. The second option is to spray the garment and saturate it with distilled white vinegar. After letting the clothing air out, the vinegar smell will be gone, and hopefully the funky smell as well. When it comes to airing everything out, an open window on a breezy day or a fan will do.
2.) Baking Soda
Baking soda is a natural odor-killer, which is why many use an open box in the fridge to remove the scent of sour food. The method for vintage clothing is a bit different. Instead of opening the box near the clothing, pour a small amount into a large-enough plastic bag and throw in the garment. Knot the bag, shake it around a bit, and let the bag sit with the clothing and baking soda for a day or two.
3.) Solid Charcoal
For things you’re afraid to soak or get wet, another great option is solid charcoal–the kind that’s used in a fish tank. Throw some in with the garment and enclose it in something like a chest or drawer for several days. The charcoal will absorb the moisture in the fabric, which is the force behind the smell of mildew.
4.) Cheap Vodka
Who knew that cheap vodka was good for something besides regrettable decisions and awful hangovers? Make a mixture of vodka and water (or if you’re feeling brave, go all-vodka), and spray it all over the piece of clothing. When the liquid evaporates, so should the smell.
Perhaps the cheapest and most readily available choice on this list, newspaper is incredibly useful. Many know that if your shoes become soaked after a sudden downpour, stuffing them to the brim with balled-up newspaper helps draw the moisture out of the leather, suede, etc. In the same way, stuffing the pockets and sleeves of a wool overcoat and then throwing it in a sealed plastic bag for a few days will help remove any moisture associated with mildew.