Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Answering the Unanswerables and Another Use for Vodka

In one of my undergraduate history courses, I had a rather exhuberant professor who announced an intense interest in those things history courses couldn't answer. There are things, she proclaimed, that no book could ever answer, that we could never know. What, she proposed as an example, did 1776 smell like?

It smells like my upstairs closet where I keep my reenacting clothes.

It smells like a lingering melange of woodsmoke and earthy dirt, of bright grass stains and sulpherous black powder smoke, of my own unwashed self, quite strongly, wrapped up in rumpled linen.

Gosh, I wonder how my clothes get so disgusting. To note: It was 95 degrees and I'd been running in addition to crawling around on the ground. Sheesh.

Yes, I do wash my clothes. I throw the shifts and petticoats and (dear God of course) the stockings in the laundry after every weekend of wear. It's the gowns and the stays that cause a mite of trouble. I send the gowns to the dry cleaner every few wears, but don't want to overstress them (and, once, the dry cleaners sent my gown to a local theater thinking it was theirs and I only got it back because they didn't recognize it). Stays can't really be laundered at all.

Then a friend clued me in to the best trick ever: Vodka.

Spritzing plain, cheapo vodka on fabric pulls the smell out. It takes a few go's, especially after so much, ah, neglect, but it really does work. I doused my stays a few times and a gown and a jacket twice each, and they freshened up considerably. It's like Febreeze without the weird after-smell.

So, now my closet doesn't have to smell like 1776. On the downside, one less question about the past easily answered.


Connie said...

Does anyone know if the vodka trick will vodka work on silk?

This is great to know.

BTW, I've tried vodka as a insect repellent. It's not Deep Woods Off, but it's not bad, especially if you want to sit out on the deck after a shower.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this post. Interesting tidbit about vodka, and interesting musings. What did all these times smell like? Hmm...

dolleygurl said...

Very cool to know! I never would have thought!

GentlewomanThief said...

Ooh, great tip - thank you! I also read somewhere a long time ago that you can use vodka to get rid of those - ahem - sweat/deoderant stains you sometimes get in clothes you wear a lot (you know, the kind that the washing machine won't even get rid of). I tend to end up with that on my favourite t-shirts, understandably annoying, and it does work! I haven't done it in a long time, but I think you mix with water and spray on, then launder - I would probably spray on more than you do when using it as a fabreeze substitute. You might be able to get away with just rinsing it off with water, if the item can't be properly laundered.

Rowenna said...

Connie--I'll have to try the vodka insect repellent trick! I hate how Off stays, well, "on" forever. I would think that a light mist would work on silk, but I might be concerned about colorfastness. Will have to test :)

Brownpaperbag and dolley--thanks for stopping by :)

Gentlewoman--Will have to try the vodka trick on modern clothes, too.

Lua said...

Haha I only knew one good use for vodka and it had nothing to do with cleaning clothes! Thanks for the tip, it might come in handy next year when I’ll have to live on my own :)

Anonymous said...

Now there's a use for vodka I'd never thought of... I love little tidbits like that, thank you!