Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Smelly woolies...continued

As a "smell" theme seems to be developing over the past two posts, this topic might as well be stretched to three in a row and have done.

A couple of business trips ago, my husband got dragged into a cigar bar by some old buddies. A few days later at home, when his clothes were unpacked, an unbelievable stench filled the air. The clothes he had worn into that bar had permeated every single thing in his suitcase, despite having been segregated in their own plastic bag. Even the (different) clothes he later wore on his person smelled horrible. Everything washable went straight into the machine.

This left the non-washables. What to do? Dry cleaning a suit and sport coat could cost a lot and his woolens...what a lot of work to clean them all. After thinking a bit, a memory floated up about my German grandmother.

My "Oma" as we called her, had a Swiss housekeeper, Frau Annie. The pair of them were formidable. They aired everything. Every day, rain or shine, the linens everyone had slept on went out on the balcony under a little roof to protect them from getting wet. (The bedrooms were aired too--winter or summer.) Neither Oma nor Frau Annie were big on washing things--there was a washing machine but it took a long, long time. Pants and shirts were aired over a bar in the closet, then folded for re-wearing, dresses were hung over the inside of a closet door to air, but woolen items -- heavy sweaters, coats and jackets especially -- were aired outside after every wearing.

So, after the cigar-bar incident, and to the amusement of our neighbors, out on our mini-balcony went everything smelly, on a folding laundry rack. The sport coat and suit came out alright after two days in the open air, but a woolen sweater still smelled bad. A trip to the supermarket turned up "Febreeze" fabric freshener, and this, followed by a trip through the air-fluff cycle of the dryer, did the trick.

A bad incident with m*ths in a cedar closet convinced me not to rely too much on the vaunted smell of cedar, and mothballs now rule that closet. Everything in that closet naturally has to be aired for a day before it can be worn, so a constant supply of smelly woolies is close at hand, and out on the balcony they go.

If the weather is bad, it is not possible to air smelly woolies on the balcony--unlike my Oma's balcony, ours has no roof. So, together with a shot of "Febreeze" or with a fabric softener sheet, into the dryer on air-fluff goes every garment except for sport coats or suits. Those air out on a bar over the door in the bathroom with the door shut to prevent that mothball smell from taking over.

And how about you, dear readers? If you are feeling bold, perhaps you will comment about how you get bad smells out of your woolies. This mini-series on bad smells may as well come to an good end with your good ideas--

(You have been reading TECHknitting on: smelly woolies.)


Caroline M said...

I had a friend froun Australia come to stay who had previously been hosted by a family who smoked. We don't, she doesn't. Everything in her suitcase reeked. Everything that could be washed was washed but then there was the problem of the suitcase itself. Even after a day outside it still was whiffy. Febreeze was the answer for us too.

LizzieK8 said...

White vinegar works as well, if not better than Fabreeze and is a whole lot less expensive!

La Petite Tricoteuse said...

I don't have any 'get the smell out' advice, but I do know that a bit of eucalyptus oil and lavender are great moth repellants. Problem with ceder is after a while the oil dissipates. The eukalyptus and lavender you can just refresh every couple of months and it smells better than moth balls.

Marseille said...

Any alternatives to Febreeze? I'm sensitive to smells and can't handle it. :( Usually I go with airing things out, but if that didn't work..... :(

Ronni said...

If you can air it long enough the smell will eventually go away. It might take weeks though for some things (eg books my smoker brother sent me after he had read them). I think Febreeze now has an unscented version but I've not used it. I almost always just wash or dry clean as necessary. I don't use mothballs either. I found some herbal sachets that smell much better called "Moth Away" and they seem to work as near as I can tell. I've used them for probably 15 years and haven't had moth in anything protected by them. I usually keep everything sealed up in plastic bins with one or two of the sachets depending on the size of the bin. Years later the scent is still strong when I open the bin and no moths.

J said...

Fill the bottom of Rubbermaid storage bin with Fresh Step cat litter about 1-2 inches deep. Place a piece of cardboard over the cat litter. Then place the items to be "deodorized" on top of the cardboard. Put the top on the storage bin and leave for one to two weeks. Open and do a "smell-check", if the items still smell, close the lid and leave for another week. Also remember to stir the cat litter at the bottom of the container when you open it for a sniff test. This works with musty basement smells and smoke smells.
I use this method because with yarn, books, and clothing because of sensitivity to smells.

kmkat said...

My husband keeps a pillow in his van; he works nights 75 miles from home and sometimes he needs to pull over and take a short nap to be able to drive safely. The latest pillow is foam rubber with a sewn-on flannel pillowcase, not easy to wash. It had started to smell *well used*, and he asked if I would see what I could do. Without much hope I sprayed it with Febreze and let it dry. Smell gone, exept for one small area that I had apparently missed. Another spray and it is once again in his van.

I had never used Febreze before but I am now a convert.

Dotty said...

When I'm trying to destink something, I'll place a fabric softener sheet between 2 pieces of paper and wrap the garment around it and put it into a plastic bag. Marinate for awhile, then take it out, flip the garment around and re-wrap. I also store items this way.

If I'm in a rush, I just throw the item into the dryer with a fabric softener sheet and a few minutes later, it smells fine.

raquel said...

my cure for smelly woolies?

white vinegar spritzed on smelly clothes and left out to air dry or tossed into the dryer on fluff setting.

safe for the environment.
safe for you.

if you're afraid of the pungent odor of vinegar...you can always dilute it with water. still works wonders!!!

June said...

I deodorized a smoky *book* (purchased on ebay) with baking soda. I sprinkled it among the pages and put it in a sealed container. A week later, it smelled fine. But getting the soda dust was a disaster!

Maybe j's solution (in the comments) would work with baking soda alone - cat litter often has its own scent.

Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

For smelly washable clothes, throw a little vinegar in the wash. A costumer over at the knitty forum says that costumes that must be worn show after show with nary a cleaning are sprayed with vodka from a plant mister.

What about the enzymatic cleaners used to get pet odors out of carpet? Are those safe for woolens?

Rosemary said...

Hi TECHknitter. I love your site, you are wonderful! I can't thank you enough!

I'm with your Oma, nothing works like a good airing. I don't like perfumy smells, so febreeze isn't an option for me, either. I use plain clay cat litter, as another commenter mentioned, but I don't like the perfumy cat litters, so I buy the plain old Johnny cat, or I go to the auto supply house and ask for "oil dry" which is just plain old clay cat litter. I store suitcases with a small paper bag of cat litter- stapled shut- inside of the suitcase, to prevent that musty smell. Thanks again for such a wonderful site!

polarbears said...

You can refresh the cedar smell and efficacy by a light sanding. Cedar oil and blocks or balls of cedar wood for those of us without cedar closets are also available. Thanks to everyone for the great tips!

--Deb said...

You can make your own "Febreze" by filling a spray bottle with half-water and half-vodka . . . and a drop of essential oils if you want a scent. Another tip I found suggests water with just a little fabric softener in it (though that seems like it would leave a residue eventually...)