Cleaning/freshening up vintage

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion Q & A' started by Elizabeth Valentino, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. Elizabeth Valentino

    Elizabeth Valentino Registered Guest

    Hello all,
    I'm curious to know how one might go about freshening up old hats, clothing and handbags. I was informed that drycleaning vintage wasn't a good idea. Also, I have some adorable hankerchiefs with rust stains here and there and would like to know how these might be removed, if possible. Lastly, where can I look to date handbags & hats (with or without labels?):oops:

    Thanks again,
    e. valentino
  2. Vinclothes

    Vinclothes Trade Member

    Oh my! Where are you geographically? You need a mentor. But you can learn a lot from reading. Many of the the excellent books on this site have chapters on care of vintage.
    You have to know something about fabrics, too. Some vintage garments can only be dry cleaned, while others can be safely laundered. I applaud your having narrowed down what you need to know.
  3. Rue_de_la_Paix

    Rue_de_la_Paix Trade Member

    Welcome to the website! As has been said, there are resources and links here you can access for basic information, as well as some wonderful books out there. Care and cleaning of vintage is a life long learning process, there is no one source for what you ask....and much of it can be trial and error, so try out some things on some already ruined or too-far-gone clothing where you can test out methods, etc. There are many tried and true methods that you will learn through your own reading, research, and trying them out yourself. Identifying the fiber is extremely important, and that alone can be a challenge.

    For dating and basic care of vintage hats, a good start is Susan Langley's "Hats and Bonnets", there are 2 editions of her book. I highly recommend it.
  4. MyDarlingVintage

    MyDarlingVintage Registered Guest

    Hey there,
    I sell a lot of vintage handbags and use an Ozonator machine to help get the odors out. Sometimes I can get the odors out completely, and other times it just reduces it. But, as long as the smell isn't extremely overwhelming it usually helps with moth ball smell or a cigarette odor.
    I ordered my machine online and I think I spent about $200 USD on it - it has been about 1 year since I bought it and it is still holding up well.

    I hope that helps you, best of luck!

  5. Circa Vintage

    Circa Vintage Alumni +

    Katie, that machine sounds great!

    I air mine outside, on an overcast day - usually I spread them out on towels and move them about a bit to increase the exposure. Sometimes it can take several days to remove smells. I also wipe them with a mild detergent and warm water.
    StitchesandSnags likes this.
  6. Better Dresses Vintage

    Better Dresses Vintage Trade Member

    Hi and welcome, Elizabeth,

    My new washer allows me to launder lots of my vintage (and many modern dry-clean only) items I used to handwash or dry-clean. I just did a test run on my own clothes, and wow! Fantastic results and $35+ saved. Just $1,965 more and they've paid for themselves. LOL. If you're in the market for a new set, look for the HE machines with no agitator and a "handwash" setting.

    The new dryer has a "steam-fresh" setting which uses super-heated steam to sanitize and remove odors from non-washables. I've only tested it on stuffed animals and sofa pillows so far, but it should work well on hats and fabric purses.

    Everyone has a favorite stain-remover. Mine is Vintage Textile Soak (available online, inexpensive, and they'll send a free sample). It gets out brown spots in old linen and cotton. There is no way to remove those stains from silk :(.

    My second go-to stain lifter is Murphy's Oil Soap (yes, the floor cleaner). Dip a clean, soft toothbrush into full-strength soap, rub stain gently, rinse, repeat. If stain is a bit lighter, repeat until it's gone (fyi, this stuff takes out dry-erase marker from clothing!).

    For non-cleanables, I use Nicole's out-in-the-air fix, but I break the "no direct sunlight" rule and put anything that doesn't freshen up with a day of breezy shade and a morning of evaporating dew (pulls out the stink) into bright, direct sun.

    I might have to invest in an ozonator machine (Katie, do you remember where you got yours and what brand is it?). Meanwhile, you can call a local mold abatement or water-damage repair company to see if they know of a local ozonator room. I know there's one here in Atlanta, but I've never used it. Expensive and far away.

    I would recommend following Jonathan's (museum of fashion curator) advice for killing any larva/eggs hiding in woolen items. Place each in a ziploc bag and stick it in your freezer. Simple as that. Remove, thaw, repeat.

    I've got to the point where I just don't (knowingly) buy anything stinky that I can't clean easily and cost-effectively. It's not worth it unless it's just too fabulous to leave behind.

    p.s. I've got Langley's book and it's terrific. Somehow it hasn't stopped me annoying Barbara for help dating hats : ).
  7. Nichole

    Nichole Registered Guest

    Hello all,
    What does one use to get out those nasty rust stains on vintage.
    Thank you,
  8. ClubVintage

    ClubVintage Administrator Staff Member

    You can use Whink in rust stains but be sure to use gloves and if it is going to remove it it will do so almost immediately. Rinse it right away because it can eat the fabric away pretty quickly.
    The Vintage Merchant likes this.
  9. StitchesandSnags

    StitchesandSnags Registered Guest

    I'm terrible! I use a diluted vinegar/water solution and lightly spritz depending on the garment. I either allow it to hang outside on an overcast day or put it in the dryer at low heat.

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