It seems that the best looking, nicest pieces of clothing are also the same pieces marked “Dry Clean Only“. Dry cleaning is performed by professionals, using a (carcinogenic) solvent bath to remove soil and odors in the fabric. There are known health hazards from exposure to perchloroethylene, the main chemical used in dry cleaning, which remains in the fabric after you take it home. “Green” dry cleaners are available in some areas, but how environmental friendly they are is debatable. Home dry cleaning kits are available, but seem to only mask odor through use of a very heavy fragrance. Often, the biggest drawback to wearing these delicate items multiple times is development of armpit odor. For many years, costumers have sworn by vodka to kill odor in the armpit area of clothing so actors can wear a costume for many performances in a row without washing. Can vodka kill residual armpit odor in clothing so dry cleaning is no longer necessary?
- Better for You – no carcinogenic chemicals in your clothing, or in your home
- Better for the Environment – less dry cleaning means less hazardous waste (the by-product of traditional dry cleaning)
- Saves Money – dry cleaning can be expensive, “green” dry cleaning doubly so. Vodka is cheap!
- Saves Time – no time spent running to the dry cleaners to drop off, and pick up
- Easy – a quick spritz when you’re hanging up your garment is all you need
- Vodka is odorless – does not leave any unwanted fragrances
- Vodka is a deodorizer, not a cleaner – any stains must be managed separately
While researching ideas for at home green dry cleaning options, I ran across the idea that vodka can be used to deodorize dry clean only garments. I was really excited to try this out, as I have several items in my closet that shouldn’t be washed often, but seem to get a little stinky in the armpits. (Fuzzy sweaters, silk garments, fancy dresses, etc).
I picked up some vodka and a little spray bottle to use with it. (Any type of unflavored vodka is fine — I recommend getting a cheap one if clothing deodorizing will be your only use for it). I tried this out on some of my everyday work clothes. Even though my crystal deodorant works great, a small amount of armpit bacteria can get into clothing throughout the day and smell a little ripe upon close inspection by nose. At the end of the day, I sprayed the armpits of my clothing, and hung on a hanger to dry until morning.
The first time I tried this, I did a light spritz of vodka, and there was no change to the clothing odor in the morning. The second time I tried, I did a moderate spray until the fabric was damp to the touch, and there was no change to the clothing odor in the morning. The third time I tried this, I sprayed the fabric on both sides until it was completely saturated. I let it hang until evening of the next day and found the odor was almost completely gone! It works! (Not all the way gone, but almost). I also found that it worked on some old odors I had stashed in my closet! I’m very pleased with this trick, and plan to incorporate this into my laundry routine ASAP.
A couple post scripts: Although I did not pre-test the vodka on an inconspicuous area of my garments to make sure they were colorfast, you totally should! Also, many “dry clean only” garments can be safely hand washed at home. Check out this nifty guide to learn more.
Do you have any secret laundry help tips and tricks?