If you’re someone who’s big into thrift stores or is an avid collector of vintage clothing, you’ve likely faced one or more of these common problems: mystery stains, fabric that’s yellowed from age and exposure, leather goods that are scuffed, nicked, or dried out, and the most ubiquitous of thrifting issues…that horrible musty smell.
Well, woes be gone! We’ve got a whole countdown’s worth of ways to tackle all those vexing vintage conundrums.
Five Ways To Get Rid Of That Vintage Smell
Activated charcoal, also found under the names activated carbon, active carbon, and active charcoal, can be purchased loose in pet supply stores (look in the fish section!) or in brick form from companies like Innofresh. It’s a great odor absorber and neutralizer; to use, seal the offending item in a lidded container or large sealable bag (even a trash bag will do) along with the activated charcoal for 24 hours, or even up to one week.
Kitty litter is a super odour eliminator and is particularly great on items that don’t play nicely with water, like beaded clutches or silk kimonos. The litter contains activated charcoal, so if you’ve already got some in the house, you can use it as a substitute in exactly the same way.
Dress your vintage gear like a salad by spraying white vinegar on it. It sounds weird, but the acid in the vinegar will counteract any odoursâ€”the vinegar smell will dissipate fairly quickly, so you don’t need to worry that you’ll walk around smelling like a pickle.
Steaming a garment, especially if you use a scent-infused steaming solution, will eliminate smells from vintage goods, and will also help to revive wrinkled or napped fibers. A few passes may be needed to fully eradicate particularly pungent odours.
Four Ways To Salvage Leather And Suede
Saddle soap is just what it sounds like: soap that’s used to clean leather saddles. It will also clean leather bags, jackets, belts, and shoes that are dingy and worn-looking and is a particularly great choice for cleaning lighter-colored leather. To use it, apply a slightly damp cloth to the soap, which comes in a tin, and rub in a circular motion to produce a lather. Then apply it to the leather, wiping clean with a non-sudsy part of your damp cloth.
Most people only think of using shoe polish for shoesâ€”we can’t really fault them for that since the word “shoe” is right there in the name. But shoe polish, especially coloured shoe polish, is great for reviving leather handbags that have been nicked, scratched, or otherwise banged up by their previous owners. Two brands to look out for that offer a huge variety of coloured polishes are Tarrago and Meltonian.
Leather conditioner is a milder choice than saddle soap for reviving older leather goods that may have become dried out over the years. You can buy a brand-name leather conditioner, such as Leather Honey, or DIY it by mixing two parts white vinegar to three parts olive oil in a spray bottle.
Suede erasers are The Thing for removing scuffs, stains and grime from all manner of suede items. If you can’t find a dedicated suede eraser, you can substitute a white art eraser.