By Jolie Kerr
The holiday season, with its travel schedules and back-to-back-to-back fêtes, can demand that we wear certain clothes or outfits more times than we usually would without cleaning them. But you needn't be stuck wearing a stained tie if disaster strikes when you're staying at Grandma's house, a hotel or an AirBnB — here's what to do about everything from stains to the lingering scent of last nights canapés.
Prepare for the Inevitable
If you'll be traveling for the holidays and know that your blue blazer or festive tie featuring elves performing the Kama Sutra is going to perform double or triple-duty, there are some things you should pack to ensure you look your best. Three things, to be precise.
A travel steamer will serve two purposes; the obvious one is to de-wrinkle a set of clothes that have been worn, but as a bonus, a steamer will also freshen up a garment so it doesn't smell like the back of a bar. Need a recommendation? Racked loves the Joy Mangano mini steamer — and, it's only 20 bucks!
An empty spray bottle can also be a lifesaver when you're on the road. Fill it with water, lay a wrinkled shirt or pair of pants flat, spritz away and, using your hands, smooth the garment out. Let it dry flat while you go brush your teeth or something, and presto! It will look as good as new, no ironing required.
It is my firmly held belief that every man should carry a Shout Wipe in his wallet next to his just-in-case condom. They truly do work on stains, they're safe to use on everything from silk ties to wool suits, and they don't take up a lot of room, so throw a few extra in your bag and pass them out to your friends. They're so much better than mini candy canes!
Hang It Up
While being prepared is ideal, we live here in the real world and I know you won't always remember to toss an empty spray bottle into your bag for emergency refreshing purposes. So here's the actual best tip you'll get out of this whole thing: When you come home from dinner or that cocktail party or caroling outing, hang your clothes up.
Now look, I know you'll probably have been over-served and are likely to doff your suit, pour yourself into bed and sleep off all that eggnog, but please resist that urge. One good way to set yourself up for success is to leave a hanger or hangers out on the bed alongside your pajamas; they will serve as a visual clue that will remind your festive self that, oh right, you're supposed to hang your clothes up.
Hanging your clothes up will keep them from looking impossibly wrinkled, and will also allow air to circulate, which will help to keep your clothes from smelling like last night's angels on horseback.
Oh My God, There's a Stain! (Don't Panic.)
Hopefully you've stashed a Shout Wipe in your wallet, because if you did, great, we're done here.
If you didn't, you're not doomed: Do you have hand sanitizer or contact lens solution with you? Both can be used to remove small stains like food splatters or blood. (What? I don't know what your holiday events are like, but mine often involve the drawing of blood.) To use them, apply a small amount directly to the stained area and massage it in using your fingertips, adding more and/or repeating as needed until the stain is gone.
But let's say you end up with an entire glass of red wine on the white shirt you planned to wear again, well, desperate times call for desperate measures, which means it's time to brush up on your hand-washing skills. It's actually really simple! Here's are the steps to take:
Fill the sink about halfway with lukewarm water.
Add a small amount of detergent — in a pinch, hand soap or clear shampoo will work just fine.
Place the garment in the water and submerge it, making sure the water and detergent saturate the fibers.
Allow the item to soak, rubbing the stained part of the shirt against itself to work the detergent in. Holding the fabric taut under running water will also help to push out the stain.
Drain the sink, refill it with clean water, and swirl the shirt around to release the detergent lingering within, repeating until there’s no lingering soap residue. Drain the sink and press down on the garment to extrude water.
Roll the item in a clean, dry towel to press out more water; do not wring your wet clothes, as the twisting can damage the fibers. Hang or lay flat to air dry.
Oh My God, You Stink
Let's say the lingering smell of those angels on horseback is, well, lingering. Remember that spray bottle I told you to pack with your toothpaste? If you're in a hotel room, raid the minibar for a bottle of vodka, and decant it into the spray bottle. Vodka is an odor eliminator, so lightly spritzing a suit, blazer or dress shirt will kill stale smells from food, smoke, and body odor. As the clothes dry, the vodka smell will dissipate, so don't worry that you'll be walking around smelling like a distillery. White and apple cider vinegar also works, so if you're staying in someone's home or an AirBnB with a kitchen, check to see if those things are available.