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Musty smelling fabric

Musty smelling fabric

Old 07-01-2015, 02:03 PM
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Default Musty smelling fabric

A friend of mine told me she just received a box of wonderful 50's and 60's quilting fabric. Unfortunately, they had been stored in a closed up old house for at least 5 years and smell terrible. She is thinking they will have to be destroyed. I told her "Wait! I know just who to ask!" So please- any ideas that might save these classics? Thank you in advance for any and all suggestions. You are all the best.
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Old 07-01-2015, 02:25 PM
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Lots of options, here.

"Air" the fabrics outside for several hours. I expect they've been folded, so be sure to unfold and "fluff" fluff them into piles, enabling the air to circulate around them.

Am sure there will be some residual aroma. In that case, separate the lights from the darks, and make two respective wash loads of the fabrics. Be sure to include a Color Catcher in each load to mitigate color bleeding. Wash on a gentle cycle or regular cylcle (your preference), using your regular detergent / soap and my personal preference, Borateem Laundry Booster

I've used Borateem for decades in place of bleach when washing colors and anything other than men's "unmentionalbles". Borateem won't damage the fabric.

If the first round of this process doesn't work...repeat the washing cycle.

Here's hoping your friend incorporates her new "stash" into some lovely projects.
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Old 07-01-2015, 02:57 PM
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I would add a couple of things to MCH's comments. If you have to wash them, use pinking shears on the edges so you won't get a million long knotted strings. There is a pinking blade for the rotary cutter too. The pinking holds up very well for a couple of washes, but will need to be redone if you go for wash 3. Adding Odoban (available at Home Depot) to your wash water will help with odors too. You won't need much. Maybe a quarter of a cup.
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Old 07-01-2015, 03:04 PM
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if you put them in the sun, it will kill the smell and anything else in/on the fabric. good side down! i would probably put them out unfolded for at least an hour --15 minute minimum
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Old 07-01-2015, 03:20 PM
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My brother was a heavy smoker. He had a gazillion plaid shirts and when he died I wanted to use some of them in projects. I washed them 3 times with oxiclean. They still smelled some so I hung them all over my deck railings outside for 4 days. I turned them everyday. I washed them one more time and dried them. Finally, they are odor free and usable.
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Old 07-01-2015, 03:54 PM
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I received some horribly smoky blocks in a block swap. The sender was obviously a very heavy smoker, they were so bad that when I opened my mailbox it hit me like a Mac truck. I sprinkled some baking soda on my deck, laid the blocks down, then sprinkled more baking soda on top of the blocks. Let it sit for 4-5 hours and the smell was gone.
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Old 07-01-2015, 04:15 PM
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Only other thing I can think of is maybe adding vinegar to the wash? Never done this myself, but have seen others suggest it before. I got some musty smelling fabric from a family member, just washed it like I normally do my laundry, and it came out fine. Good Luck, hope it is useable!
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Old 07-01-2015, 04:39 PM
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I agree with Latrinka, vinegar always works for me.
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Old 07-01-2015, 04:43 PM
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One thing I would do is to test and see if they are rotten first. Being in an old house without heat etc, for 5 years may have caused them to get rotten. Before cleaning and wasting time and money, try and rip or tear it just with your fingers on the cut edge, not the selvage edge and see how easily it rips. If it is hard to rip or you can't rip it it should be good to wash and use. If it rips really easily I would hesitate to use it for much. I have usually gotten this smell out with just a good laundry soap but the sun works wonders.
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Old 07-01-2015, 05:23 PM
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However you wash it, vinegar can be used in place of fabric softener. Works for people who are sensitive to scents.
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