How to Get Stains Out of Vintage T-Shirts

Vintage t-shirts from the 1980s are now all the rage, as they have been thoroughly embraced by fashionistas.

Despite it being a favourite trend, some vintage t-shirt owners will be disappointed that their beloved apparel is marred with stains and cannot be worn without sacrificing its originality.

One problem that frequently occurs among vintage T-shirt owners is yellowish discolourations caused by expired or improperly stored deodorant (most commonly underarm deodorants), certain foods like mustard, ketchup, chocolate syrup and even curry can leave stubborn stains.

There are two methods to successfully remove these stains; one involves using household items like baking soda, vinegar or salt while the other requires dishwashing liquid or laundry detergent.

The first method of using household items takes more time while the second method produces faster results.

1st Method: Using Household Items to Remove Stains on Vintage T-Shirts

Lemon juice and salt: Salt is a natural substance that has the ability to leave your shirt looking cleaner than before because it acts as an abrasive and absorbs dirt.

To remove either ketchup or mustard stains, first, blot the staining substance and then sprinkle generously with salt before rubbing over the area in a circular motion using lemon juice.

Place it under direct sunlight for around 15 minutes until you see visible improvement in colour.

After this use a damp cloth to cleanse the yellowish area thoroughly with water before drying completely in the air.

Vinegar can also be used instead of lemon juice if one prefers an alternative solution.

Baking soda: Mix baking soda with hydrogen peroxide, add a little bit of washing liquid and mix well together.

Apply this solution on the yellowed area, rub gently to remove stains and leave it for around 15 minutes before rinsing with water.

2nd Method: Removing Stains with Dishwashing Liquid or Laundry Detergent

Dishwashing liquid or laundry detergent will be more efficient than household items in terms of removing stains effectively.

Mix 2 tablespoons of dishwashing powder with 1 cup of hot water, apply this solution on the stained area and scrub lightly using a clean cloth before washing with water.

Use dish soap to rewash the shirt then use chlorine bleach if you prefer white-coloured shirts over the yellow ones.

Rubbing some salt over the yellowed areas prior to applying dish soap can speed up its cleaning process because it will absorb dirt faster.

You can use hydrogen peroxide to clean stubborn stains too instead of dishwashing liquid or laundry detergent.

Problems that you will encounter while removing yellowish stains from your vintage t-shirts are dried up white spots on the fabric after washing, if this happens repeat the cleaning process again using a weaker solution until all traces of discolouration are gone.

Things TO Remember:

Vintage t-shirts are typically made of 100% cotton which is very soft and delicate, so it’s best to wash them only by hand instead of placing them in the washing machine.

Different coloured vintage t-shirts will affect each other when you soak or rewash them together because they contain natural dyes (non-toxic) that may present on shirts after many years of storage which makes their colour bleed onto neighbouring fabrics present nearby.

If there are visible white spots left on your vintage t-shirt after washing, repeat the cleaning process again using a weaker solution until all traces of discolouration are gone.

To ensure damage doesn’t occur do not dry clean your shirt with bleach; always remember to rinse it thoroughly with water after cleaning to prevent the colour from bleeding.

It is advisable to avoid placing your shirt in direct contact with abrasive surfaces because it might cause the surface patches of the fabric to become weak and/or discoloured over time.

Remember to taste test any food you intend to use on your vintage t-shirt before applying it directly onto its surface because some foods stains clothing permanently even after many washes.


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