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Washing/Preserving/Restoring a HBT Tunic
Old 03-26-2020, 10:25 AM   #1
Cam_S
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Default Washing/Preserving/Restoring a HBT Tunic

Hi All,

I know this is a touchy subject so just to be up front in that I haven't done anything yet.

I picked up a very dirty HBT tunic from a guy who kept it rolled up in a ball in the bottom drawer of his work bench in his garage. It has original collar insignia, infantry shoulder boards but unfortunately the breast eagle had been ripped off. Lots of the bevo backing material from the breast eagle is still attached in amongst the stitching. The tunic has all the original buttons and attachments but a lot of the clips holding the buttons have become rusty.

My goal is to get this cleaned, preserved and restored to make sure it doesn't continue to deteriorate. The tunic is covered in dust and it has a very strong smell.

What is the best and safest way to properly clean the tunic?

Thanks,
Cam
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Old 03-26-2020, 10:37 AM   #2
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I would vacuum and hang outside
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Old 03-26-2020, 02:03 PM   #3
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I for one would like to see it ,any chance you could post some photos!
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Old 03-26-2020, 08:25 PM   #4
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You are right, the subject is controversial. This is probably because it is often done incorrectly taking the easy way but the wrong way.

It can be done right. You need a perfectly CLEAN basin, several gallon size, some Woolite (regular type) and a clean work area.
I would recommend that you carefully remove all removable buttons first, you can even keep track of which one came from any location if you want to. The S hooks or split rings need to be cleaned of rust as well.

Essentially follow the directions on the Woolite bottle. You can do two washings in succession if the water turns black and then follow by two rinses getting the basin rinsed of all detergent between rinses.

Critical is not to stress the stitching anywhere while wet so keep that in mind.

Final water can be pressed out with clean towel and hang on wooden hanger to dry or spread over drying frame. Careful ironing in low heat will work well if you have some experience in this.
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Old 03-26-2020, 08:53 PM   #5
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I once got great results with a dirty tunic by immersing it in the bath tub with warm water and a completely natural (no artificial ingredients) liquid hand soap. I swished it around and did some light wringing - not hard or tight - and repeated the process three times with three fresh batches of bath water. I rinsed it in a tub full of just water (no soap that round).

I hung it up to dry next to a dehumidifier to gently dry it. No clothes dryer, etc.

A lot of dirt came out of the tunic and when completely done my efforts made a big difference in its appearance.
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Old 03-26-2020, 09:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phild View Post
You are right, the subject is controversial. This is probably because it is often done incorrectly taking the easy way but the wrong way.

It can be done right. You need a perfectly CLEAN basin, several gallon size, some Woolite (regular type) and a clean work area.
I would recommend that you carefully remove all removable buttons first, you can even keep track of which one came from any location if you want to. The S hooks or split rings need to be cleaned of rust as well.

Essentially follow the directions on the Woolite bottle. You can do two washings in succession if the water turns black and then follow by two rinses getting the basin rinsed of all detergent between rinses.

Critical is not to stress the stitching anywhere while wet so keep that in mind.

Final water can be pressed out with clean towel and hang on wooden hanger to dry or spread over drying frame. Careful ironing in low heat will work well if you have some experience in this.
Woolite? Better mild detergents out there.
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Old 03-27-2020, 12:14 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 101combatvet View Post
Woolite? Better mild detergents out there.
Perhaps, I’m not sure how “better” is defined. I’ve never heard of Woolite being too harsh and regular Woolite has no phosphates (brightners)as I understand it but their product line can be checked. We used old school Castile soap (sp?) to hand wash clothing when I was in Germany in the Army 45 years ago and it too worked well.

I own no stock in Woolite (or much else as of 2 weeks ago!) and I think most gentle detergents sans whiteners carefully worked, soaked and rinsed out will work very well. Woolite is simply the no brainer that is hard to mess up with if directions are followed.
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Here is the tunic.
Old 03-27-2020, 12:50 PM   #8
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Default Here is the tunic.

Here are the pics of the tunic.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 20200327_120247.jpg (117.5 KB, 109 views)
File Type: jpg 20200327_120314.jpg (244.7 KB, 109 views)
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More pics
Old 03-27-2020, 01:02 PM   #9
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Default More pics

Here are the rest of the pics. I don't think the shoulder boards are original to the tunic as they are an earlier model but they appear to be original. There is quite a bit of staining and almost a glue like residue, especially on the collar. Let me know what you all think.

Cam
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 20200327_120255.jpg (209.5 KB, 103 views)
File Type: jpg 20200327_120259.jpg (243.5 KB, 106 views)
File Type: jpg 20200327_120406.jpg (134.7 KB, 105 views)
File Type: jpg 20200327_120442.jpg (187.4 KB, 104 views)
File Type: jpg 20200327_120455.jpg (137.1 KB, 106 views)
File Type: jpg 20200327_120500.jpg (215.9 KB, 103 views)
File Type: jpg 20200327_120521.jpg (160.6 KB, 107 views)
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Old 03-27-2020, 01:11 PM   #10
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Honestly it looks fine to me. I would leave it as is. I know some collectors who would prefer it as it was found and would view cleaning it as altering the item.


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Old 03-27-2020, 01:15 PM   #11
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I agree....I like it as is....don't clean it. Like "jmcm" said...vacuum and.hang it....
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Old 03-27-2020, 02:37 PM   #12
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I like the look of it just vacuum and hang outside.
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Old 03-27-2020, 02:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edelweisse View Post
I agree....I like it as is....don't clean it. Like "jmcm" said...vacuum and.hang it....
That's about it and I would leave the original eagle stitching as is,nice tunic
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Old 03-27-2020, 03:49 PM   #14
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Now when you guys say vacuum, anything special I need to take into consideration? This is my first WH uniform.

Cam
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Old 03-27-2020, 05:31 PM   #15
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Vacuum with a brush attachment
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