Monday, 03 March 2014 00:00

Green Cleaning from the Kitchen for Costumes

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   In a world of spray this and that, I thought to offer some Green Cleaning solutions from the kitchen that would work for costumes; if one has the luxury of time. Modern cleaning products may be more effective, but these may prove helpful in a pinch and wont harm, at any rate.

   Always test a product, even a natural one, before using. Try the mixture on some scrap fabric, or use on a place where any negative effect will be hidden from view, such as the garment hem or seam allowance. 

The three of the most popular Green Cleaning Agents are Vinegar,Baking Soda and Lemon Juice. 



     Vinegar is a weak form of acetic acid and white vinegar is  best for cleaning. Keep it in two containers - one spray bottle, with half vinegar, half water and one bottle full strength. Always test before use.

  • Freshen costumes - turn the costume inside out and spray the arm pits and other sweaty areas with a mixture of ½ water to ½ vinegar. Leave overnight or for several hours to dry.
  • Clean costume jewelry (jewels) in a mixture of  a gentle dish soap, vinegar and warm water. Use a toothbrush and gently move the cleaner into all the small spaces around both sides of the jewelry. Rinse well in warm water and lay on a towel to dry.
  • To clean metal jewelry, buttons or eyelets of silver, pewter, copper or brass, dissolve 1-teaspoon salt in one cup of vinegar. Add enough flour to create a paste, approximately ¼ cup or more. Apply the paste to the metal item with a soft cloth or toothbrush and let stand for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and polish with a soft cloth.
  • De-lint costumes by adding  ½ cup of vinegar to the final rinse cycle.
  • Emergency Stain Remover - gently rub coffee, chocolate, ketchup, jam, cola and wine stains with vinegar and then wash the garment as usual. It is possible to spot wash and use a hair dryer to gently blow the spot dry.

  • Bright Coloured costumes -  add ½ cup vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  • Scorch marks - rub mark with a mixture of vinegar and salt.
  • Washing Machine Cleaner - add 1 cup of vinegar to the water and run the cycle without clothes. If the washing machine is used for dyeing, clean the washer immediately afterwards to ensure all the dye is removed.
  • Smoke Damage is best removed by adding 1 cup of vinegar to a tub of water. Hang the smoke damaged costume in the same room for several hours. This also works on cigarette smoke.

Baking Soda

  • Baking Soda, also known as bicarbonate of soda is non-toxic, multi-purpose and inexpensive. It is a naturally occurring material; present in most organic life forms. Always test before use.
  • Silver jewelry, buttons and trim - make a paste of 3 parts soda to 1 part water. Gently rub the paste onto each item; a soft toothbrush may be used to move the cleaner into small crevices. Rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.

  • Freshen hairbrushes and combs - stir together 1-cup water and 1 tsp. baking soda. Place the brushes and combs into the solution, rinse, then air dry on a towel.
  • Costume odours - turn the costume inside out and sprinkle baking soda on the affected area and let stand overnight or for at least 15 minutes. Use a hand held vacuum to remove the baking soda.
  • Grease Stain Remover - make a paste of water and baking soda and apply to stain as a pre treatment before washing.
  • Baking Soda makes chlorine bleach more effective. Add ½ cup to the wash water, along with the usual amount of bleach.

Lemon Juice

  • Lemon juice is great natural cleaner as it is high in citric acid but has a low pH level and antibacterial properties. Always rinse with warm soapy water and dry with a soft, dry cloth. Never use lemon juice on anything that is brass plated as the acid will damage the item. Always test before use.
  • Real Brass, Copper and Chrome - make a mixture of lemon juice and salt. Use a cloth or soft toothbrush to apply. Rinse and dry as directed.

  • Rust Stain Remover  - make a mixture of lemon juice and cream of tarter. Rub the mixture into the stain. Let the item sit for 30 minutes, then wash as normal. Good on cotton and polyester fabrics. Do NOT use on silks or delicate fabrics.
  • Bright Coloured Costumes - add ½ cup lemon juice per gallon of water, then wash as normal. Dry whites in the sun for a natural bleaching effect.
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The Costumer's Notebook,

The book The Costumer's Notebook is a 295 page comprehensive handbook for Costumers for stage and film including a full Glossary of stage and film industry terms. Sections include methods and tricks for laundry, dyeing, breakdown, Dresser guidelines and protocols for Stage or Film and various size charts for men and women from shoes to gloves. Other Sections include diagrams showing How to Iron A Shirt, How to Tie a Tie and How to Tie a Bow Tie. Costume fittings, costume lay out and costume storage are also discussed.