5 Ways To Remove The Stink from Second Hand Clothing/Fabrics

Shopping second hand is a great way to find clothing and fabrics that can be used in your sewing room or to grow your own wardrobe without adding to waste stream. In addition to discovering unique items you are also helping to keep money in our local economy & support the green living movement. But what options do you have when you realize your latest treasure comes with an added surprise? It has a weird smell.

Over the years I've found a few trusty ways to remove any vintage musk or unwanted smell from thrift store items- and I can't wait to share how easy it really is to deodorize any wet basement, old lady like, moth ball, dust encrusted smelling fabrics without harsh chemicals or scented sprays.

Always prewash your fabrics and clothing before using them.

1. Vinegar & Water mixture there's a good chance you already knew this- but this is without a doubt the most suggested option for removing pesky smells from fabrics. This is best for items you know you can hand wash like a cotton dress or bedsheet. Use 5 parts water to 1 part white vinegar in a spray bottle. If you're washing fabrics in a sink, add a few tablespoons into the water and let the fabric sit for 15 minutes. Rinse in cool water and hang outside to dry letting the sunshine and fresh air do their magic. Don't worry about walking around smelling like kimchi, the vinegar scent will quickly dissipate.  As vinegar is acidic, there are some fabrics that cannot handle the intensity due to age or delicacy and will dissolve in a vinegar wash, so be sure to use with caution.

2. Oxiclean Odor Blasters just like in the infomercials- OxiClean does the job. This specialty formulated mix was designed with odors in mind and works as both a deodorizer and stain remover in one. You can add it to the laundry or handwash in a bucket.  Soak for up to 8 hours depending on the severity of stain or smell. Follow directions provided on product site/packaging.

3. Vodka, and you don't even need to use the good stuff. The cheapest hair curling rot you've got on the bottom shelf will do just fine. Add straight vodka to a spray bottle and lightly mist to dampen your fabrics/clothing. Do not over saturate. Let air dry.

4. Dawn Dish Soap know for its grease-cutting power when it comes to the kitchen sink,  Dawn can be used to tackle some of your laundry issues as well. Learn how to make homemade laundry soap using this liquid blue magic right here.

5. Newspaper Perhaps the cheapest and most readily available choice on this list, a newspaper is incredibly useful. Many know that if your shoes become soaked after a sudden downpour, stuffing them to the brim with balled-up newspaper helps draw the moisture out of the leather, suede, etc. In the same way, stuffing the pockets and sleeves of a wool overcoat and then throwing it in a sealed plastic bag for a few days will help remove any moisture associated with mildew.

Bonus:  Fels Naptha Soap, it's been used for 100's of years to spot remove stains. I included this in the list today because it can be used to treat all types of fabrics including delicate lace. It has a light fresh scent that does not linger in clothing. It

Before I scare you off entirely, I have to be honest... the majority of materials I come across don't smell funky. There are many options to help de-funk any type or size of fabric you may find while thrift store hunting or yard saling. Even with years of "experiments" my best advice is to exercise caution and test a garment in as inconspicuous a place as possible.

Do you have any deodorizing tips or tricks when it comes to store quilts, fabrics, and clothing? I
d love to hear your best ones in the comments.


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