Go Back  Quiltingboard Forums > Main
How Do You Get That Old, Musty Smell Out of Your Stash Fabrics? >

How Do You Get That Old, Musty Smell Out of Your Stash Fabrics?

How Do You Get That Old, Musty Smell Out of Your Stash Fabrics?

Old 12-19-2019, 07:25 AM
Super Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Mendocino Coast, CA
Posts: 3,791
Default How Do You Get That Old, Musty Smell Out of Your Stash Fabrics?

I got out some of my fabrics from my stash and my...they had that musty, "old textile," smell. It's not moldy, just an smell of old age. What can I use that will eliminate that without adding any artificial fragrance? Thanks.

~ C
tropit is offline  
Old 12-19-2019, 08:37 AM
Power Poster
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Southern USA
Posts: 13,835

I would toss them in the washer with hot water and detergent.
Onebyone is offline  
Old 12-19-2019, 08:40 AM
Power Poster
Join Date: May 2008
Location: MN
Posts: 23,757

I would use a no- fragrance gentle detergent and make sure the fabric was thoroughly dry before putting it back .
bearisgray is online now  
Old 12-19-2019, 08:48 AM
Super Member
EasyPeezy's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Canada
Posts: 3,381

Add some vinegar to the wash. Won't hurt to let it soak for a bit.
EasyPeezy is offline  
Old 12-19-2019, 09:09 AM
Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 32

Probably the wrong time of year for this, but wash them gently in tepid water with a little baking soda in it, then hang them out to dry.
StitchingAgain is offline  
Old 12-19-2019, 10:24 AM
Super Member
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Near Seattle, WA
Posts: 5,192

How do you store your fabrics and how old are these pieces?

Having collected true vintage fabric for a number of decades, I personally know well the musty smell of old fabric but even though a lot of my fabric is very old, I don't get much smell from my stash. Everything I've ever gotten has washed clean (some had some ghastly stains) and clean smelling -- except for moth ball odor. I can never get it entirely out. This past weekend I saw a crazy piece of I think 1960s fortune teller fabric at the Goodwill. It was awesome except for the mothball odor. I was so tempted but didn't even unroll it to look at it because I knew I couldn't work with it.

I think mostly it is moisture that gets into the fabric and causes the odor. I keep my fabric in my house, at house temperature we have a lot of ambient humidity in the air in the Seattle region but not enough for a dehumidifier. I store in cardboard boxes because I don't have bug problems and I'm more concerned about light degradation with the length of time I keep my fabric. The cardboard is store on rolling metal racks -- you should never store cardboard directly on the floor, especially a cement floor. It will wick up trace amounts of moisture, which can lead to fabric decay, mold, and musty odor. I think it is important to have that air flow around the boxes.

If you are getting the musty smell in closed plastic containers, I think you will need to open up the containers more often. I don't know directly how to deal with plastic as I avoided it for the first 40 years of my stash Have my completed tops stored in large clear plastic totes, so I'll see how they do between being pieced and quilted.

Over the past 10 years I've reduced my stash from an entire room side hoard to what will fit in my closet (once I get the stuff out of my closet). I will be building a rack system inside, still won't put long term boxes on the floor.

Edit/PS: I use unscented soap products and no dryer sheets when I'm dealing with yardage. I will use dryer sheets on clothing, but I don't want any residues on my fabric. I've been using the wool dryer balls and feel they do improve the drying side of things. I hate ironing but the last step is a nice hot press (yes, I use steam) and folded into fourths ready for cutting (and that size fits so nicely into the boxes!).

Last edited by Iceblossom; 12-19-2019 at 10:36 AM.
Iceblossom is offline  
Old 12-19-2019, 11:38 AM
Super Member
Mitch's mom's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: TN
Posts: 1,443

Wash it with 1 cup of sudsy ammonia added to the wash water. The ammonia will not harm the fabric or the colors and you get the added bonus of the ammonia cleaning the inner workings of your washer.
Mitch's mom is offline  
Old 12-19-2019, 11:40 AM
Super Member
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 4,782

I would wash it in warm water with laundry detergent and line dry (if possible). Then find a better place to store it or run a dehumidifier in that space.
JustAbitCrazy is offline  
Old 12-19-2019, 04:54 PM
Power Poster
Jingle's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Outside St. Louis
Posts: 37,658

My fabrics have never smelled like that. I keep mine ruler folded in stacks on wire shelves in closet. I leave the doors opened about 1-2".
Jingle is offline  
Old 12-19-2019, 10:26 PM
Super Member
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: kansas
Posts: 6,382

add vinegar to the wash, its good at neutralizing odors.
quiltingshorttimer is offline  
Related Topics
Thread Starter
Last Post
11-07-2016 08:00 AM
04-30-2015 12:09 PM
01-28-2013 05:17 AM
03-01-2011 12:42 PM
Connie Rae
11-03-2010 05:42 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

FREE Quilting Newsletter