Deodorize Your Clothes With Vodka!

Do your clothes smell musty from being in storage all winter? Real Simple suggests deodorizing them with vodka. Yes, vodka. From Real Simple:

Solution: Spritz garments with a small amount of vodka; hang them to dry in a well-ventilated area (spot-test first). Straight vodka kills bacteria, but it doesn’t leave a scent.

Great tip, because if we know you there was likely going to be some vodka on those clothes anyway. —MEGHANN MARCO

8 Surprising Household Deodorizers [Real Simple]
(Photo: Todd Ehlers)


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  1. nweaver says:

    Go to costco, get a bottle of the CHEAPEST vodka they have, remove the label and write on it:

    All Purpose Solvent and Sterilizing Agent
    60% H20
    40% CH3CH2OH

    Its good for lots of cleaning duties.

  2. Kung Fu Cantona says:

    Didn’t the mythbusters bust this myth recently?

  3. urban_ninjya says:

    @Seymour Scagnetti: Yup.. they have. It was only proved a marginal improvement. Still not as good as regular detergent.

  4. The Bigger Unit says:

    Not vodka on my clothes silly! Whiskey and coke!

  5. CumaeanSibyl says:

    It works about as well as Febreze. I worked at a theatre costume shop, and we used a 1:1 vodka/water mix to deodorize non-washable costumes between showings. I wouldn’t recommend it over washing, but if you need to take the armpit stink out of a dry-clean-only coat or the cigarette smell out of car upholstery, it’s cheap and doesn’t reek of fake florals like the store-bought deodorizers.

  6. Brnin8r says:

    I work in professional theatre, and we use vodka to deodorize costumes on a fairly regular basis. It does work. What it doesn’t do is impose that “clean” smell (Summer Rain, Mountain Breeze, etc.) you get from detergents.

  7. whysteriastar says:

    I believe myth busters debunked pirates using rum as a cleaning agent, not vodka being used as a deoderizer.

  8. kerry says:

    @nweaver: Vodka is also a good all-around disinfectant, especially when mixed with vinegar.
    That said, you might as well just go to the store and buy a bottle of 90% ethanol, dilute it down to about 70% and keep it in a spray bottle. I keep a tiny spray bottle of 70% ethanol in my purse to use as a hand sanitizer (if it’s good enough for my cell culture hood, it’s good enough for me). Isopropanol would work, too, and is usually available at the 70% concentration to begin with.
    The point is to have some combination of alcohol and water. If it’s all water or all alcohol the bacteria won’t rupture. Mixing the two together makes cells break apart when the alcohol evaporates, taking much of the water (both inside and outside the cell) with. Great all-purpose sanitizer.
    Oh, and if you ever spill blood on something, rinse it with isotonic saline (saline solution for contact lenses works great). Keeps the cells from breaking, which keeps the hemoglobin from staining. Place a paper towel under the stained fabric and stream saline on top the stain, it should rinse right through and onto the towel.
    Oh, the things the lab has taught me!

  9. formergr says:

    They had a whole episode on vodka, and tested it’s deodorizing properties on Grant’s stinky feet.

    Ever since Real Simple suggested blowing a hair dryer on its hottest setting at those hard-to-remove labels on new glass- or dish-ware, I’ve made a policy of not using their suggestions. They claimed the labels would heat up and fall off, but it was not to be. I tried it on several of a set of new glasses I bought, and it fused that label on really, really badly. The labels on the glasses I didn’t blow dry came off much more easily, though still required some peeling little bits off at a time and scraping.

  10. Mayor McRib says:

    I just put the cloths back on and swig from the bottle. I like working from the inside out.

  11. NeoteriX says:


    Why are people saying that vodka is a sanitizer? Or Vodka mixed with anything else? Vodka by itself is already 80 proof, or in other words, 40% alcohol. That is already insufficient for the 60% alcohol necessary for optimal disinfecting, diluting it with anything else makes it only worse.

  12. MeOhMy says:

    Now I know why the producer seemed pissed off that I expensed a whole case of Grey Goose when I worked as an assistant to the costume master!

    @formergr: For labels, just about ANY oil will help. If you are concerned about using GooGone or WD-40 on things you eat from (I am, too!), vegetable oil and mineral oil will both work. Apply some to the label, let it soak in for at least 15 min (I usually just walk away for a few hours), and then scrub it off with warm water.

  13. myrall says:

    Um, yeah…and most two-martini lunchers will tell you that vodka is the least detectable drink (breath-wise) ALSO due to its marvelous properties.

  14. vanilla-fro says:

    Vodka smells on your breath just as bad as the next drink, its your body that creates that smell while processing the booze.

    The vodka itself should have no smell, prior to drinking.

    as far as cleaning, use the stuff they make for that. it even comes in unscented sometimes.

  15. synergy says:

    @kerry: You’re my hero! ^5 to fellow lab nerd. ;D

  16. kerry says:

    @synergy: Woo! I also use the distilled water tap to make tea and coffee, way tastier than the chlorine-cloudy tap water. :D

  17. Dr. Eirik says:

    Here’s something my wife and I recently discovered is a miracle cleaning agent: Denture Tabs.

    I’d heard a tip once about using them in old thermoses to get rid of old odors. As an experiment, I used them in my daughters sippy cups, the ones that had rolled under car seats for weeks and then smelled like old milk no matter how many times you cleaned them. I dropped one in with warm water and let it sit, then ran it through the dishwasher: No stink, completely clean.

    The other day, my wife decided to try them out on some other stuff, namely the grills and covers for our gas stove, where food often bakes on. A couple tabs in the sink and a soak for a few hours and the stuff came right off. Same went for the toaster oven rack and broiler pan, which had something sticky on it I hadn’t been able to get off with any soap (including Dawn Power Disolver).

    Stuff is cheap and safe. We’re using it on a lot of stuff now.

  18. kerry says:

    @Dr. Eirik: I was thinking of doing this to get the coffee scudge out of my travel mug (Sparkleen just isn’t doing the trick). Thanks for the confirmation that it actually works!

  19. VA_White says:

    The best product for removing adhesive is a product called Un-Du. It removes all adhesive labels cleanly with no residue and even leaves the adhesive intact so if you’re so inclined, you can re-use the label on something else.

    I have used this product many many times and would not recommend it if it didn’t really work. It will even take Bush/Cheney bumper stickers off your used Lexus without leaving marks on the bumper. :)

  20. 75Sasha says:

    Yay to all the female lab rats! I’m curious, what industries do you (Kerry and Synergy) represent? I do R and D work for a paint company. And a tip for getting sticker residue off. I wax my eyebrows at home to save money and I’m never happy with the salon. I spilled hot, melted wax ALL OVER my bathroom one night. I ended up buying GiGi Sure Clean. It’s what body waxers use to remove wax drips and spills off of everything but the client. Basically isopropyl alcohol. But it works like magic. I soaked a cotton square and the dried, sticky wax came right off the floor with about 5 seconds of work. Not safe for skin and I have no idea about colorfast properties, but for glasses, plates, car bumpers etc this would work beautifully.

  21. formergr says:

    Okay, am definitely trying this UnDu stuff– a link online says it lets you take a stamp off an envelope if you change your mind and still reuse it. Thanks for the recommendation!

  22. Musician78 says:


    All vodka I have ever had has a smell. And it isn’t all that pleasant.

  23. Mr. Gunn says:

    Musician78: I don’t know what vodka you’ve been drinking, buddy, but you might want to switch.

  24. Mr. Gunn says:

    Anyone who’s ever taken a microbiology course at the university level should know it takes 70% to have just the right amount of penetrating vs. protein precipitating properties to be an effective antiseptic. Buy the cheap 70% isopropyl(rubbing) alcohol from the drugstore and be done with it.

  25. kerry says:

    @75Sasha: I’m in medical research, mostly molecular and cell biology stuff, predominantly focused on prostate cancer, but I do stuff for folks researching other diseases, as well.

  26. LuvJones says:

    I’ll just go naked no need to waste perfectly good Vodka that’s alcohol abuse!

  27. Musician78 says:

    @Mr. Gunn

    Any vodka I have tried has a smell. Absolut, Smirnoff, and a myriad of cheap no name brands.

    Is it possible that only some people can smell it…?