Monday, February 27, 2012

That “Used Clothing” Odor!

One of the questions that came my way when I asked if there was anything you wanted me to write about came in the form of “How do you remove funky odors from recycled clothing?”

I have always washed recyclable clothing that I plan on using in quilts in hot water with my regular detergent, and that usually solves the problem for me, but sometimes there is a shirt with a “questionable pedigree” and no matter what you try, the smell just doesn’t come “clean.”

Maybe it lived it’s previous life with a smoker, or a home with pets – or someone who loved to cook Greek food with copious amounts of garlic!

Whatever the case, I have a hint just for all of you sent in by Ms Anonymous J!

((If you read all the way to the bottom of her hint, you'll find out WHY she wants to remain anonymous!))

She writes:

Hi Bonnie:

Had to share this info with you. Hope you will pass it along to anyone who needs it.

My husband is one of the cleanest humans alive, neat too! lolol.

But his tshirts and our bed linens get terribly yellowed and become geniunely sticky! Having done everything possible to get rid of this mess---folk rmedies, commerical amd home products ... nothing at all worked.

Somehow I stumbled upon a stain, odor and smell webpage online. Voila! Prayers (literally) were answered.

White-Vinegar Morton Salt current

SALT AND WHITE VINEGAR! To see if this worked, I put hot water on the lowest filling for my washer. Add 1/2 cup salt and 1 cup vinegar, let 4 tees and 1 pillowcase soak for 30 minutes. Then washed in regular detergent! BRIGHT CLEAN AND NO SMELL Hurrah!

The explanation is that our sweat contains acetone, among other chemicals. Putting bleach etc. with the acetone causes the problem to get worse! I was about dissolving tees in BLEACH trying to clean things up, not knowing it made them worse!

Of course there is more to the explaination than I can remember. lol.

But now I presoak (and rinse once) all underwear and bed linens in hot water full setting with 1 cups salt and 2 cups vinegar. Since both products are cheap and work --- what a win win.

Thought perhaps when you pick up used plaids etc., they might have an off odor, try it.

Please feel free to offer this suggestion online or off. But please do not use my name...or I will become the lady who has the stinky hubby!

HUGS

J inTN

Salt and Vinegar! I have to admit when I first read her subject line it had me thinking of Salt & Vinegar potato chips and I was ready to run for the nearest bag in the cupboard --- but this sounds like it just might be the ticket for those of you wondering how to remove smells from older mustier fabrics, and those articles of clothing we want to repurpose into quilts. Anyone want to try to see if it will remove cat pee smells? Would love an update on that because sometimes I get gifts of fabric and or blocks that smell like “Bad Kitty”. :cD If the fabric can be saved, I’d rather save it than toss it out!

41 comments:

Suzan said...

My sister has a cat with a "problem" and her rescue for bad kitty smells is rubbing alcohol. She runs a load of laundry, dumps in an entire bottle of rubbing alcohol (cheap stuff!) and the smell is gone. I have never had to try it since I have a good kitty but my sister swears by it. It even took the smell out of a very puffy winter jacket.

stichnRN said...

i have to tell you my cat pee story. my mom made her first (of 13) cathedral window quilts for herself. she kept it hanging on a quilt rack my dad made. after she passed away we gave my dad a cat to keep him company. this cat sprayed the quilt. it was literally crunchy. i know TMI. i got some urinegone and spread the quilt on a tarp in the back yard. you were supposed to spray it and let it dry and the pee was supposed to go away. NOT. by dark it still stunk. i couldn't leave it outside.... i figured the possums and raccoons would just add to it. i didn't want it in the house. BUT i figured it was ruined anyway...i put it in the washer, turned on the hot water and put in the arm and hammer. after it turned off, i could still smell it so i did it again....then it didn't smell, so i did it one more time and dried it in the drier.
that quilt belongs to my sister-in-law now. we never told her how bad it was.

TotallyAmy said...

I use vinegar in my wash all the time! Works great on strange smells.

SubeeSews said...

My DH's pillows get that odor that I cannot remove. I end up simply buying more and more pillows. He is a wonderfully clean smelling man otherwise. I must try this trick with his pillowcases!!!
XOOXO Subee

Regina said...

I have an HE machine - I can put the vinegar in the water softerner cycle, but not sure about the salt. Anyone have experience using this with an HE, or should I soak it in a bucket and then wash it perhaps??? I received some charity donation quilt blocks that are quite smoky - wondering if this would help them?

Jackie in NJ said...

I have always put vinegar in the rinse when I use bleach in the wash because vinegar neutralizes bleach. It takes away that bleachy smell.

Mimi said...

I too wonder about what I would be doing to my washer with the salt....

Anonymous said...

My sister used to work for a vet and they would recommend female douche to remove skunk and cat urine smells..and basic douche is just vinegar and water..so there ya go!
Chris G, Augusta, GA chrissybluebird@hotmail.com

Marilyn said...

Bonnie, I started your Orca quilt the other day and am working on the first step. Since it is the Lenten season for me, do you think doing all those triangles is penence for me? Like the hint of using salt and vinegar for tough smells on fabric. bsholtis@sc.rr.com

Leeanne said...

I know someone who uses salt and vinegar whenever she washes her quilts, says it helps the colour running.Might have to try this on my boys white school shirts!

krisgray said...

Two days in a row - perfect timing! DH left a fish oil pill in one of his pockets that got washed a few days ago! I lost count of how many times he's rewashed that load of laundry. He thought he had it all gone but I can tell - it's still there, in the sweatshirt that I'm wearing! Next wash gets this treatment!!

LintLady said...

Hi Bonnie,
Salt and vinegar is an allrounder! You also get limestone and lime deposits off your coffe machine, the sink or flower vases. Just leave the mixture in them over night and than rinse out very good. Doesn't leave a tast in the coffe machine at all than.
Hugs Doris :o)

sgardner said...

Bad kitty! When we were first married, the beautiful kitten we got had her first cycle as an up and oh-so-hormonal horny cat, and proceeded to pee on our load of freshly laundered military uniforms we had walked into the door with a few seconds earlier. Grabbing what I had, LYSOL, I ran back out the door before my husband could kill my brand new cat. First load with a cup of Lysol, second wash with just regular Era detergent- no smell was on the clothing. (Whew, we all lived.) That was really fresh cat pee- it's not so effective on stuff that is older and has a chance to be fully dried. Now that I have my own washing machines, I soak it in Lysol and then do a full rinse, and then run it through a regular wash.

sbh said...

I'm going to try this on our cloth napkins! I made a gazillion to use instead of paper napkins, but sometimes they get an "off" smell too! Hope it works! BTW..I didn't know about bleach making the smells worse..thanks for that info!!

Mego said...

This is great! I use salt and vinegar to clean the drains but never thought about it for clothes!

June said...

This is something I will definitely try when I get given old fabric to use in the class at the women's prison - often the contents of a stash that's been stored in a garage maybe. We are so grateful for the fabric and ordinary washing just doesn't remove the smell.

Janet O. said...

I use vinegar for many household chores. Will add this to the list! Thanks for passing the hint along!

Anonymous said...

I use vinegar all the time works great make a shower curtain look like new and also great to remove the moldy smell in wash rags. I keep a big bottle of it by the washer. Also great from removing and killing mold in a bathroom.

Marsha said...

I use vinegar in my wash instead of fabric softener. It's a trick I learned when sending my son to scout camp. It leaves no odor, so does not attract mosquitos or other insects, plus it softens the clothes. Way less expensive than fabric softener or softener sheets and there is no fragrance. Vinegar works great for lots of cleaning problems.

Tracy Johnson said...

I have an HE also, my thought was put the salt in the dry detergent section. Or dissolve the salt in the vinegar before use.

Sandra in the UK said...

I also use vinegar in my rinse water. We have hard water here and soap just leaves towels and things so hard and scratchy. I fill my softener compartment with vinegar and clothes come out lovely and soft and no smell of vinegar. I tell everyone I know that white vinegar has loads of uses. I descale the kettle, remove water marks from the shower, rinse hair after shampooing, clean windows. Those are just a few!!

Kendra Grove said...

I am assuming that everyone uses white vinegar??? Kendra

Marilyn said...

I was wondering how you would use the vinegar and salt in the HE washer. About how much of each is used? I would rather go with this natural method than use liquid softners. Going to try it soon. Thanks Marilyn

Anonymous said...

Tell me more about making your own napkins! I have wanted to do this for a long time but just haven't. What fabrics did you choose and how did you finish the raw edge? Thanks so much for any information you can share.

Alice
amiddlem@gmail.com

laquaqltr said...

I always add a cup of vinegar to my wash, every load, I guess I'd have to try dissolving the salt and adding it as well to the wash. I too have an HE washer and I think dissolving it first would be the way to go. That or adding it directly into the washer with the clothes.

Water Lilly said...

Regina, I put my smoky smelling quilt blocks from winnings etc, in a zip lock bag of some dried lavender I got at a nursery. It works great for small quilt problems.

Reena said...

I never heard of the salt but def the vinegar- yes plain old white vinegar. I put it in the rinse if there is anything stinky- I do not have this problem very often. I would say try it without the salt 1st...

Marilyn said...

hi Alice, I have made many napkins in many ways. We like ours sort of over sized. You can start with up to 18" sqs. Cut them smaller if you wish. You can use 2 prety fabrics that coordinate and make 2 sided napkins or just single thickness. I love homespun for linens but my house is more casual. Use sateen or some pretty cotton jacquard for more formal. You can serge, fold under a tiny hem and sew by hand, or zigzag the fold down. My homespun ones don't need ironing. Marilyn

regan said...

Seriously? Someone sent you fabric that stunk of cat pee!?! That just makes me crazy! Sheesh!

Thanks for the tip on this, though......sounds like a lot of folks are going to be using it!

Anonymous said...

When I added some dry oxidol to my HE washer the directions say to put the dry contents in before the clothes. It goes thru the holes in tub and gets mixed with water before coming in contact with the clothes.

Anonymous said...

I just tried to write a comment, which disappeared, so here goes again. For neutralizng cat pee odors: Disolve one quarter cup of baking soda in one quart of hydrogen peroxide. This will not fizz. (Or adjust the amount you need to saturate item.) Test on scrap or hidden spot, because peroxide is a mild bleach. Saturate item completely. No need to submerge item. Allow to dry completely. Be patient. Wash in water and detergent. I always rinse again after end of cycle.
I rescued a piece of soft luggage this way. I also bleached a spot on a nice wool rug runner.
Good luck with this. I'll try it on a couple of quilt fabric scraps.
I have no more cats!
I will be anonymous because this is the first time I've ever blogged and at my age it's too much fuss to try to understand what the profile categories are all about. This is my favorite web site!!

Machelle said...

What a great tip! I am going to try it!

Gramma Quilter said...

Feeling the love of the quilter/ blogger community big time this morning as i read every ones comments! Who could have imagined where technology would take us! Wishing everyone a blessing filled day.
thanks for the great blog Bonnie!

Liriopia said...

If you are talking about the "sweet" odor that gets into colored clothing and washcloths, that odor is caused by a type of fungus, something like mildew. Most times you can only smell it if the fabric is wet (it survives the heat of the dryer). A cup of vinegar in your rinse water will eradicate this. The vinegar changes the pH of the water just enough to make the climate for growth inhospitable. I use vinegar in my wash water all the time. This works whether the garment is brand new or years old.

Liri

Andee said...

Glad I wasn't the only one thinking of chips!

Camilla said...

They reformulated Tide (regular powdered) recently (last year or so) and it stopped being nearly as effective. I turned to vinegar (but simply add a cup or so with the detergent) when I noticed that my toddler's sweatpants kept coming out smelling of pee. I think it's reasonably effective, though not more so than the Arm and Hammer or Kirkland branded detergents. I won't be buying more of the new formula Tide, but the vinegar trick is enough to use up my box of it.

A few web searches made it clear that I'm not the only one who's noticed how Tide isn't nearly as good anymore.

mtquilter said...

I also use a vinegar, ammonia and water solution to mop my floors. It's much cheaper than commercial cleaning solutions and doesn't leave a film like some do. I don't use it on my wood floors though, just the tile ones. It works on vinyl too. I'm going to try vinegar in the next load of laundry I do.

katie said...

I use vinegar in the wash when I do undies to remove any stain or smell.. I just take the bottle and pour once around the washer after I start the load. Keeps my cat from marking my husbands undies.. no male compitition.. removes all smells

Donna (MumZ) said...

Great Blog! I just discovered it and will be reading it all the time now. Thanks for the great tips from everyone.

What are some methods that are used to get that blood spot out of your quilt when you accidentally prick your finger?

Lacey S said...

Strange but true, learned this my first day working at a drapery factory--Take a spool of WHITE thread, wrap it around your index and middle finger a few times until you get a small bundle. Then spit on the thread. Yes, I said spit--and it has to be from the same person whose blood you're trying to remove (or so I'm told). Rub the spit-moistened thread over the bloodstain--the sooner, the better. Works for me almost every time.

Lacey S said...

A spit-moistened bundle of white thread rubbed over the stain works for me almost every time. But the blood and spit have to be from the same person, or so I'm told.