Tutorial: Stain Removal–The Glycerin & Vinegar Method

As I type this, I have been sitting on this method for the better part of a decade, but I keep not having a really good example of how it functions to showcase for y’all motherfuckers clarity. But that day is today, and so here the fuck we are!

This is by and large my favourite method for stain removal. So why the hell haven’t I had a good set of examples for you if I do it so often? Well you see, a good fucking ninety percent of the time, I just remove the fucking stain and don’t take a single fucking picture of a goddamn thing and carry on my merry way. Yeah, that’s right. I’ve been running this goddamn blog for a goddamn year and I still just DO SHIT instead of DOCUMENTING THE DO SHIT. What can I say? I am a creature of habit.

Before we begin, if you haven’t, it will benefit you to first familiarize yourself with the straight-up vinegar method. You don’t have to master it, just give it a once over.

So without further delay, let’s fucking goooooooooo!

You Will Need

-Either glycerin or micellar water. (I tend to use micellar water because I’m fucking laaaaazzzyyyy.)

Pictured: The shitty whatever store brand micellar water. You don’t need to be fancy.

-Distilled or purified water.

-Distilled white vinegar, food grade. I literally keep mine in a spray bottle. It’s 50-50 of distilled white vinegar and distilled water, and doing this ultimately saves you a step of having to mix them later. Behold:

Pictured: I also knock silverfish off the ceiling with it.

-A soft scrub brush. I use this one specifically, the Princeton Velvetouch Mop. I highly recommend it. Find this fucking brush, you will not regret it.

Pictured: Literally fucking buy this brush or I’ll kill you.

-A small container for mixing. I’m using a shot glass because despite everything you see and read here, I am not crunk as hell writing any of this. So I might as well use it for something productive.

-A metric ass ton of paper towels.

-Not needed but recommended: Some good tunes to rock out to while you murder stains like the psychopath we became together.

Got your shit together? Okay cool. Let’s begin.

The Assessment

First let’s assess our stains. Today, I’m working with a fantastic musou haori that I bought locally here in Chicago, but in pieces. Check it out:

I was delighted to find that all of the pieces are here, so it’ll be seeing its own entry in the future.

It’s probably 20’s-30’s in age, so it has some surface stains. And they’ve been there for quite some time. Have a look:

Now my first recommendation for any stain is to do something very simple: just scratch the motherfucker a little. Be gentle, we’re not shaking it down for protection money. But a surprising number of stains have a bunch of dried gunk that is more than happy to just dust the fuck off under a little pressure. And if you can do that, then you’re costing yourself less effort by not accidentally making mud when we apply our solvents.

Work smart, not hard. -Shotgun chk-chk-

Now, this piece is ro, meaning it is a summer weave and it’s also in pieces already so I don’t have to worry very much about getting in between layers to protect a lining. But if you’re working on an awase (lined) piece, I highly recommend you pop the seam and get a paper towel in between your layers. Not confident on how to do that? No worries, I got you, fam.

As always, take a moment to test for colorfastness. Somewhere on an inside seam or inconspicous area, get it wet with our solution and wipe it with a white paper towel, cotton bud, or towel and let it dry. We’re less worried about what comes away on the towel/whatever than we are what the fabric looks like when it dries.

Here’s some important tips for colorfastness testing:

Did the towel/whatever come away with color, but the fabric didn’t change? Okay! Retest and shine a really bright angry light on that shit. Did the fabric maintain color the through the second test? Proceed. Did it fade? This is not the solution for this piece, or otherwise you will need to be prepared to engage in pigment replacement when the stain is removed. And of course, if the towel/whatever came away clean the first time, then it’s safe to proceed.

The Process

Okay, let’s fuck some stains up.

In our little shot glass, here’s what we do. If you’re using micellar water like a lazy little shit (like meeeee), then you’re filling half the shotglass with that, and then half the shotglass with your 50/50 distilled vinegar/distilled water solution.

If you have to mix everything for the first time because you don’t just keep this shit at the ready because you’re not some kind of fucking mascochistic psychopath that seeks out damaged silk from a hundred goddamn years ago like I am, then here’s how you do that: You will mix 1 teaspoon of glycerin with 1 tablespoon of distilled water in your shot glass, and then you will mix 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar with 2 tablespoons of distilled water in that same shotglass.

Word to the wise, I’m being exact here so that if you’ve never done anything like this before it’s easy to follow. This does not have to be exact. This is a gentle-as-hell recipe that really does not like to leave marks, so don’t stress yourself out about it too much.

Your liquids should all be no warmer than room temperature. If you live anywhere that feels like the fucking sun right now, remember that dark colors like cool water and light colors tolerate warm water. If you’re doing this to white, you can use borderline hot water.

Here’s what your mixture will basically look like.

Pictured: Bubbles!

Beautiful! Also…oh god I need to replace my ironing board’s cover. All of those stains are set but damn. I do some goddamn voodoo on this thing, and it shows.

Next, let’s hit a stain. I actually hit several in a row at the same time for this, because working super slowly is not really a thing I do. But work in a way that makes you feel comfortable. If you feel better at doing one at a time, then do that. I chose this stain in particular for this specific tutorial because this stain is very sticky.

Pictured: Guuunk

This is a stain that will actually be easier to see when wet. You’ll see.

And now we unceremoniously dunk our brush into our solution and we scrub our stain. And for this, I took a goddamn video for you because I love you. Watch how this mixture froths up!

Pictured: FUCKING BUBBLES

Now, I’m not putting very much pressure on this stain, and I don’t recommend that you do, either. Froth it up really well, and then just let the solvent do its job. Once I’ve done the scrubby-scrub for a moment, I kind of just…fuck off for a good ten to fifteen minutes. Sometimes that meeans flipping the item around a bit and treating other stains, but sometimes that means literally dancing around my room with my headphones in at five in the morning like a lunatic. Anyway, here’s what it looks like wet:

Pictured: THE CULPRIT

I told you it was more visible wet. Anyway, the next step is to fuck off. The purpose of the glycerin mix is to lubricate the stain away from the fibers. To get it moving again so that the solvent can more easily do its job, and so that the water/whatever can more easily wash it away.

The next step is to blot it up with your paper towel.

A step that I like to do but is not entirely necessary is to blot it up and then soak it with just my 50/50 vinegar mix. This is to break down anything left over of the glycerin. Now, I don’t really have much in the way of experience with the glycerin leaving spots or changing texture–you just won’t be using that much of it. But in event you do use a touch too mch, this will solve that problem. I use my squirt bottle. I just spritz it, let it sit for a few minutes, then blot it up with extreme prejudice.

You can actually see the gunk come away.

Pictured:…lunch?

The last thing to do is let it dry and then admire your work, you fucking rockstar. Behold:

Pictured: TAADAAAAH

Never fucking happened.

The Wrap Up

Some things to keep in mind! Like any stain removal process, sometimes you have to do this more than once, some stains are more persistent than others, so do be patient. Don’t scrub like a maniac, silk is more fragile when it’s wet than when it’s dry.

Things this mixture is very good at: food stains of almost any kind, grass stains, mud, sweat, collected detritus (I used it to clean the embroidery on a wallet), makeup, and even restoring very slight surface burns such as from an iron or a dropped inscence ash.

Things this mixture is okayish at: tea (it really depends on what kind), some kinds of mold or mildew, water stains.

Things this mixture really sucks at: blood, ink, dye run, other kinds of mold or mildew, harsh burns, heat set stains.

And for no good reason, here’s another before and after.

Like it never happened. Well…okay there’s a shine in that second picture because I have The God Light™ on, and it was still slightly damp when I took the picture. I could go upstairs and take another picture, but if you think I’m going to do that then you are severely underestimating how goddamn lazy I am.

Questions? Comments? Need to move a body? Drop me a line by visiting the contact page or leave me a comment. If this was helpful to you, let me know. I like to keep track of what people are using the most, so that if I can improve on a method, I know to revisit and let you guys know.

Join me next time when who really knows what in the fresh blue Mighty Morphin’ Power Fuck I will be doing, because what even is time?

BYE.

3 thoughts on “Tutorial: Stain Removal–The Glycerin & Vinegar Method

  1. YOU are a goddammed delight and your whimsical fuckery is a balm to my soul! THANK YOU!! The universe needs more people like you. Because of your inspiration, my kimono are queuing up to get a cleaning. I’m curious, have you done much with yukata? What luck have you have had with cleaning cottons/cellulose fibers? Please keep up the good work, I so look forward to your posts.

    Like

    1. Yukata are typically cotton and therefore easier than silks. You can be pretty brutal with them. Three tutorial using the Laundress Stain Bar actually translates pretty well to yukata. The big question is always “what are we trying to kill?”

      Like

      1. Nasty ass neck grime, sleeve grime and a splattering of some sort of shoyu-based sauce (although I haven’t had the courage to actually _taste_ them o.O). That Stain Bar is def on my shopping list. Thanks for the reply!

        Like

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