Gross, but all-too-often a reality: a stinky pit in the new-to-you secondhand top purchased from a favorite thrift store, vintage shop or scored at a clothing swap.
An otherwise amazing shirt I bought recently from a San Francisco consignment shop shocked me the first time I wore it when I noticed, suddenly and without warning, that there was a serious and foreign stench coming from my armpit region. I took the shirt off, stuck my nose in the offending area and almost passed out. At first, I thought I had created this horrific smell. How, I wondered, did I get to this point in life without realizing that I have terrible, awful body odor with a power I suspect could instantaneously strike a man bald, fuel engines and stop birds in mid-flight, all at once?
A few more moments of pondering and gagging, and I was able to see the situation for what it was: I was a victim of secondhand stink. No wonder the previous owner had rid herself of the shirt. It was downright offensive.
Still, a great shirt. But problematically, dry clean only. Not to be deterred, I headed for the cleaners, thinking they would save me from this olfactory hell. No dice. Dry cleaning, as I learned when I picked up the shirt and buried my nose in the armpit only to once again have my nostrils singed with a smell somewhere in the realm of hot chilies and death, may clean and excellently pollute the air, but it does not remove horrific odors.
Next, the Internet. Among the advice I found for removing b.o. from dry clean-only apparel was the semi-helpful (a solution of vinegar and water) and the very unhelpful (try wearing deodorant in the future). But far down in a post on one site I ran across was an unusual suggestion: try pet odor spray. You know, the kind of spray most of us dog owners have on hand to combat the literal shit and vomit storms that inevitably accompany life with (wo)man’s best friend.
After soaking the shirt in Woolite and soaking in vinegar to no avail, I brought out the pet spray. I’d hesitated at first because I was a) unsure of the effects it might have on fussy fabric and b) frankly, just didn’t want the smell I associate with cleaning up dog shit to be on my clothes.
But it worked. It worked like a flower-scented dream. The brand I used: Simple Solution.
And in the end, it was.