Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sprucing up old clothes

With Catie attending Catholic school, uniforms are a part of our annual back-to-school expenses. Thankfully, our school, like many other private schools in the area, offers an annual used uniform consignment sale. We were able to score all of her uniform pieces that way last year, but this year she's grown enough that there weren't any used skirts in her size. Instead, we got two pairs of solid navy girls slacks and two pairs of navy girls shorts - unfortunately, all looked a little faded and worn. We also were able to get enough of the regulation embroidered white polo shirts, but after I got them home, I realized that some of them were dingy, with yellow underarm stains.

So I set to work! The white tops were soaked in Oxyclean, which helped some of the dinginess. Apparently the best way to get rid of the underarm stains is one I haven't tried yet - a mix of blue Dawn dish soap and hydrogen peroxide applied directly to the stained area. The soap releases the oils from the combined sweat and deodorant, and the peroxide lightens the fabric - I'll tell you how that works.

But meanwhile, the navy slacks and shorts were looking really faded. I pondered this a while, and remembered Rit dye! Rit fabric dye is available at all craft stores and many grocery stores, and is a great way to freshen up dark colored clothes. Let's say you like to wear black clothes, but over the years they've faded to a charcoal grey. If you give them a round in the wash with black dye, they'll look nearly new again! It's not the first time I've used Rit - I got a lovely long white skirt once, but I simply can't be trusted in white - not with three kids and a dog. So I dyed it a nice medium blue, and I get much more use out of it now.

So I put the navy bottoms in the washing machine on hot with a full bottle of the liquid navy dye, let it sit for 2 hours, and rinsed it about 8 times on cold until the water ran clear. And it helped a lot! The slacks and shorts look much fresher, and though some of the worn areas still looked lighter than the rest of the garment, they were clearly less noticeable. It was especially helpful with the fading at the waistband and edges of the pockets.

So if you have a favorite shirt or skirt that just isn't looking as fresh anymore, why not try giving it a new lease on life with a dye bath?

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