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T-Shirt Stain Removal Tips From the GOAT of Garment Care

How to brighten white Vintage Tees

How To

T-Shirt Stain Removal Tips From the GOAT of Garment Care

Hands-down, Josh from @invintagewetrust puts together some of the most entertaining IG videos in the vintage clothing universe.

A few years ago Josh visited Defunkd HQ (which is basically a dimly lit unfinished dungeon-esque basement) to purchase some inventory while I was trying to make room for boxes of diapers, strollers, and toys. He’s the most meticulous buyer I have ever met, with an impressive eye for detail and the highest standards for condition. This is especially apparent in the apparel he puts on sale online and at his brick-and-mortar shop. It’s usually flawless, tidy, and his presentation rivals high-end boutiques. So it’s no surprise that behind the scenes he takes great care in restoring vintage clothes to their glory days.

And the good news is that he’s been sharing some of his trusty techniques.

His “Wash with Josh” IG series details how he cleans hats, sneakers, and even denim. Most recently he shared his process for cleaning a white t-shirt and the results are super impressive.

So we connected with him to get the full scoop.

How to Brighten a White Vintage T-Shirt

Suggested Products

  • Oxy Clean White Revive
  • Borax
  • Dirt Life Purex
  • Oxy Clean Bleach Pen

The Process

The Soak

Give the t-shirt a bath with a generous portion of Oxy Clean & Borax. Josh says the temperature should be “hot as fuck” and really let it soak.

The wash

Add Purex, Oxy, and Borax to a wash cycle.

The Pen

Use the Oxy Pen to work on the underarm areas.

The Rinse

Run it through the washing machine again.

The Dry

Hang dry it.

What type of stains can’t be defeated?

In terms of items that we don’t touch for flaws, the food staining on white tees is usually a large deterrent. This usually looks like yellow circular stains, we’ve found that on 100% cotton tees or sweats there’s literally a zero percent chance of getting those out, on clothing with a poly mix, you stand a bit more of a chance, but they never come out completely. On synthetic goods, like nylon jackets or jerseys stains are almost always treatable as long as they’re pretty fresh. The reason the soak is so important is that it’s opening up the textile’s weave and makes it easier to get those stains out, for good!

Is there danger in damaging the print/fabric?

Yeah sure, I always say there’s gonna be casualties in war. This means that not all the tees that get whitened are going to make it out on the other side unscathed. I’ve seen everything, screen printing falling out with the fabric from a tee, tees that change colour from weird chemical mixtures (happens exceedingly rarely), and even screen prints that change colour. Over bleaching is a thing, but it would have to be really intense cleaning, for most people using our videos as a guideline they would not have issues with that.

Does this process fade the tags?

It would really depend on what kind of tag you’re talking about. Traditional woven tags are usually fine, but nylon tags and cheesecloth tear away ones like the classics from Screen Stars or Artex, you would definitely see some fading or decay.

Any solution for caked-on deodorant pit residue?

Good question. I find that a mixture of baking soda and vinegar is a good equalizer for getting out these pesky stains, BUT, there are limits to what it will take out. Once the residue is caked in and hardened you would have to use more extreme measures to break it down which in some cases is all for not because of color discoloration etc.

What about removing stains on Black Tees?

We actually just cut a vid for black tees! Oil staining is a common flaw we see a lot of in coloured tees. Originally we used to use a product called Lestoil, (used by garages to get staining out of work clothes), but have now been using Dawn dish soap which is better and doesn’t come with the chemical odor and environmental hazards as the former has.

What other series do you have coming up?

So the ‘Wash With Josh” series is incredibly popular on social, which is great, but we have some more tricks up our sleeves of popular story series’ that we have run in the past, we’ll deep dive into brands in the near future in something we call “Gear Talk”, should be a lot of fun.

Are you hiding the cure for dry rot?

Not at all, we’re not wizards and don’t hold all of the world’s answers, just most of them.

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Jimmy founded Defunkd in 2004 when he started selling vintage t-shirts online. 20 years of experience later and he hasn't looked back since. Actually, he looks back all the time given he's a sucker for nostalgia. For more, check the history of Defunkd and Jimmy's Expertise.

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