An Ode to Oxi

Or...Vintage Clothing Care #1

Afternoon everyone!

I hope this week is treating you all well, especially since it's nearly over. Hurray!

The subject of this post is something I alluded to last week. It is an ode to my love of the white powder, the life-changing, confidence-boosting powder that is...

Vanish Oxi Action.

You may know it in the US as Oxi Clean, or elsewhere as any kind of fizzing white oxygen-producing powder you put in a bucket of hot water; but whatever you call it, it truly is magical stuff for those of us who love vintage cotton frocks.

Most of you who read this blog will already have it in your arsenal of vintage care products I'm sure, but I do get the odd question pertaining to cleaning clothes. So here you have it. I love Oxi. It has rescued so many stained, stinky things that seemed beyond all help, and made them as good as new.

Take exhibit one: a new/old Swirl dress I recently purchased from Jezebel on Etsy. I'm nicking her photo as it was lovely!

It was reasonably priced as, clearly stated in the description, there was fading or discolouration to the shoulders and tie. The seller told me that she'd gently soaked it in Woolite, but it hadn't lifted so she assumed it was fading. Now, I've had another pale pastel Swirl arrive to me looking like this before, but the seller hadn't actually told me before I bought it. But knowing the success I'd had removing it, I decided to take a gamble.

It duly arrived and the extent of the grime (for I was convinced it was grime) could be seen. Excuse the creasing - it arrived neatly folded, then I shoved it back in the packet all haphazardly.

Exhibit A: The dress, Before-Oxi. BO... a bad choice of acronym. But strangely relevant - I will come to this shortly.

The whole shebang looks kind of dingy and dull, definitely not something I would wear as-is. So I got to work.

I skipped the milder (wimpy) pink Oxi Action, which I keep in stock and use to soak things with a stronger colour (and bung into most washes) and went straight to the big guns. Oxi Action Crystal White. Yes, it's for whites, but this dress is pale blue, I didn't mind if it faded a tiny bit; and I REALLY wanted it to work.

I put two big scoops in a bucket of water straight from the hot tap, and I dunked the dress in. I left it for 12 hours, weighted down with a heavy glass vase so it didn't pop out the top, as these things are apt to do.

I then took it out and I washed it in the machine. I washed it hot. 60º to be precise.

Now this is not me endorsing or encouraging you to do the same, as I can't take responsibility for you shrinking or ruining your frocks. BUT, I cannot be bothered to treat vintage cotton house dresses, which are to all intents and purposes, ladies' workwear, with a kid glove. I've had too many instances of decades-old armpit funk come out of a gently washed cotton frock. Many sensible ladies I know will only wash their cottons at 30º (or even handwash) to try and keep it as gentle as possible and while I definitely have plenty of frocks in darker colours, with weaker seams or fabric that I would definitely not wash so hot, this Swirl is in great, strong condition. And I have been doing this for the greater part of a decade now. So I went for it, and crossed my fingers.

And look what's happened!

Bright, glowing even; and not a hint of dinginess or discolouration!

Admittedly the light is different and therefore so is the colour. If you recall a few posts back, I showed pictures of me at a bowling alley - in the yellow alley light it doesn't look quite so vibrant... but in person it does really look like a whole new (badly ironed) dress.

So there we have it, my love of Oxi remains as strong as ever!

My tips for using these oxygen powders to soak your vintage:

  • Only use on cottons and nylon/polyester type synthetics - never rayon, silk or wool.
  • Don't soak anything with a metal zip - the rust stains will negate any good the Oxi does!
  • Use the gentler formulas on stronger coloured/patterned clothes.
  • Always go and check on it after half an hour to see if any extreme bleeding is taking place.
  • Don't be afraid to do your soak more than once!

Talking of BO, the most recent green-capped Oxi, with the 'Extra Hygiene' Action is brilliant for getting rid of funky smells, even when you just chuck it in a wash. I use it on my sports kit AND my cotton dresses with old pongs that emanate after an hour of wear (ie when it's too late to go home and change). I have been known to use a rollerball applicator of strong biological washing liquid and actually ground it into armpits before washing offending items before. It works!

Do you have any vintage rescuing super success stories?

Fleur xx

PS. This post is not sponsored by Vanish, alas.


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