How to get rid of mildew in my bag?
July 31, 2011 8:07 PM   Subscribe

My garment bag reeks like mildew and I need to put a suit in it for a trip on Tuesday. There are no same day cleaners near by. What should I do?
posted by mizrachi to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total)
You should wear your suit on the plane, use the overnight dry cleaner at the hotel you're staying at, or get a new garment bag.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:12 PM on July 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Unzip it, spray it with white vinegar, and hang it outside, preferably in the sun. Sun and fresh air are the enemies of mildew. I have successfully treated molded garments by brushing them off and hanging them out to air.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:14 PM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Get a new garment bag is probably a decent solution. A lot of the department store bags that come with new suits are actually pretty decent nowadays. If you bought the suit at a decent place, and especially if you have a bit of a relationship with the salesperson, they might just spot you a bag for your trip.
posted by zachlipton at 8:19 PM on July 31, 2011

Turn it inside out?
posted by hortense at 8:22 PM on July 31, 2011

Scrub it with soap and water, hang it up outside, spray it with vinegar, let it dry. You can also possibly throw it in the washer and/or dryer but that really depends on what it's made of how it is constructed. My dad has a bag where this works; my mother has one where it will not.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:25 PM on July 31, 2011

The mildew may be treatable in one day by the method Marie Mon Dieu suggests, but if I were you, I'd get a new garment bag. (Presumably you're planning to wear the suit to some kind of important meeting or function; I just wouldn't risk an incomplete elimination of mildew making the suit smell funky in that situation.)

You might not have to spring for new luggage, though. Look in your closet for alternatives. When I've bought suits, dresses, and coats from midrange retailers like Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, and L. L. Bean, the stores have given me fairly sturdy zip-up garment bags with the purchase. Got any of those hanging around? Even a regular old dry cleaner bag might do in a pinch. How about removable "suiter" inserts from other pieces of luggage you might own? Borrow a garment bag from a local friend?

Another alternative is to pack your suit carefully in a regular carry-on bag (roll/fold it around other clothes to avoid sharp creases) and get it steamed or pressed after you arrive, if you'll have enough time.
posted by Orinda at 8:30 PM on July 31, 2011

New garment bag. Mildew is notoriously hard to eradicate.
posted by Miko at 8:47 PM on July 31, 2011

Shit load of dryer sheets?
posted by timsteil at 9:06 PM on July 31, 2011

Febreeze Extra Strength.
posted by paulsc at 9:12 PM on July 31, 2011

No same-day cleaner doesn't necessarily mean they won't do it same-day for an extra $20 or so.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 10:28 PM on July 31, 2011

Wear the jacket, pack the pants.
posted by wutangclan at 12:01 AM on August 1, 2011

Lysol it, then air it out in the sun for as long as you can.
posted by hooray at 6:05 AM on August 1, 2011

Any men's clothing store or even just department store will have garment bags lying around. Ask for one.
posted by valkyryn at 6:08 AM on August 1, 2011

Stop by a dry cleaner and get a full-length plastic garment bag, The trashy plastic-wrap kind. Put your suit in it, tape to the hanger on top, flatten most of the air out, and tie a knot in the bottom. Now that it's protected from manky-smelling air, put the whole thing inside your travelbag, which will protect the flimsy plastic from getting ripped in transit. If yo'ure especially anxious, toss a dryer sheet in the inner bag befor eyou knot it.
posted by aimedwander at 7:12 AM on August 1, 2011

I would not trust a plastic film to keep my suit safe from a mildewey bag. But that's me.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:21 AM on August 1, 2011

Rinse with ammonia, which dries quickly, relieves smells, and will kill most of the mildew. Killing the mildew spores requires powerful chemicals, time, UV (did I mention drying it in the sun is a good thing?), a/o heat.

Fortunately, once the active mildew is killed, the spores are only a threat if you intend to store the suit longterm, or in a humid place (don't hang the bag in the bathroom).
posted by IAmBroom at 6:49 AM on August 2, 2011

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