Mom shares common theater hack for sanitizing ‘any kind’ of fabric: ‘It will remove smells’

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Have a smelly costume, couch, or other fabric that is inconvenient or impossible to wash? Try this simple spray to tackle stubborn odors. 

The scoop

On TikTok, Kathleen Finan Marcuson (@kathleenfinanmarcuson) shared an old theater trick that will neutralize any harsh odors on fabric, and you only need one ingredient.

@kathleenfinanmarcuson #cleaninghacks #cleaning #vodka #theatermom #theater #sanitizerspray #springcleaning ♬ original sound – Kathleen Finan Marcuson

“If you take vodka and you put it into a spray bottle, you could sanitize any kind of cloth fabric, whether it’s the bed or any surface that has fabric on it,” she says. 

It’s an easy trick — simply fill an empty spray bottle with plain vodka and spray a layer over the surface. Because vodka has a high alcohol content, it kills the odor-producing bacteria. Additionally, it’s colorless and odorless, so once it dries, it shouldn’t leave any stains or smells behind.

“As it dries and evaporates, it will remove the smells from those fabrics,” she says. 

How it’s helping

Odor-removing sprays can be expensive and ineffective. Many sprays simply mask odors rather than remove them, leaving your fabric smelling odd — which is what you’re trying to prevent in the first place. If you’ve got vodka around the home, making this spray can save you time, money, and a trip to the dry cleaners.

This hack also helps reduce plastic waste by reusing an old spray bottle rather than purchasing a new bottle of deodorizer. Single-use plastic cleaning bottles are “responsible for significant pollution, directly due to factory emissions and … the crude oil extraction process … [and are] typically not biodegradable,” according to an article from TruEarth.

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There are tons of natural cleaning alternatives, such as baking soda and soap for a bathroom cleaner or repurposing mismatched socks in lieu of paper towels. And forget the Swiffer pads — an old washcloth will work just fine. 

Looking for more TikTok cleaning hacks? Check out our guide to natural cleaning for tips on saving money by avoiding cleaners made with chemicals, which can be harmful to you and the environment. 

What everyone’s saying

Users were grateful for the tip, and others questioned why Kathleen called it a “theater mom” trick. 

Oftentimes in theater, “costumes can’t always be washed and all of them are stored for years, making them smelly,” replied Kathleen. 

“Great! Thank you for sharing this tip!” one user commented.

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