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Thread: Question: How to Keep Fabric Stash Fresh Smelling?

  1. #1
    Senior Member laynak's Avatar
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    Question Question: How to Keep Fabric Stash Fresh Smelling?

    Okay, I've got 'enough stash' for many quilts to come. Mostly fabrics bought new. I don't wash till before starting a new quilt.
    I have about a 10x12 quilt room (guessing). It includes a nice sized dresser, a standup plastic pull-out drawer storage, and about 10 cloth boxes in cubicles in the closet 1/2 filled with fabrics.
    I spent the past few days cleaning the whole room top to bottom, dusting bookshelves and book tops, surge protectors, under and around every piece of furniture, every surface possible. I still detect some odor like a linen closet. I've had cedar balls in some of the drawers/boxes but wonder, what do others do?
    Do I need to take out all my fabrics & run them through the dryer with dryer sheets to freshen them up? Take them outside for a day of fresh air? Store them in a different manner? How?
    The room is CLEAN but not as fresh smelling as I want to enter winter with....
    A friend gave me a gallon of lavender water awhile back. I haven't used it much. Not sure I want everything smelling like lavender. Any ideas how could that be used?

  2. #2
    cjr
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    Super Member cjr's Avatar
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    I stick used dryer sheets in the back and between fabric piles. Also because of allergies I"m a prewasher. Unwashed fabric is a no-no for me. I also have copd so I need to be extra careful.

    What about lavender sachets?
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    Super Member Neesie's Avatar
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    You can also get some nice smelling bars of soap, to tuck here and there. Just open the box, then place it among your fabric (this keeps the soap off of the fabric). We used to do this, with suitcases.
    Neesie


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    Super Member luvTooQuilt's Avatar
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    ~Baking soda in a canning jar- omit lid cover with cheesecloth or something mesh-y like- and screw on band... Decorate jar or leave as is..

    ~plug in scents

    ~Battery operated spray deodorizers- clean linen scent is my favorite..

    ~downy dryer sheets, but dont leave them directly on fabrics - they may stain your fabrics.. I re-use the ones that have already gone thru the dryer and put them in the drawers and closet.. they still have a lil scent left on them.. ..

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    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    I use fresh beads in my wash and my fabrics are in plastic boxes. I also have a Fabreeze air freshened (the pull out kind that does not use power and lasts about a month. When I vacuum I empty a small sachet of potpourri meant for drawers or closets in my vacuum bag. It makes the room smell divine.

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    Super Member LivelyLady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neesie View Post
    You can also get some nice smelling bars of soap, to tuck here and there. Just open the box, then place it among your fabric (this keeps the soap off of the fabric). We used to do this, with suitcases.
    That's what I use, too. I put them in my bureau drawers, too. I leave the soap in the wrappers....works great.
    When you sleep under a quilt, you sleep under a blanket of love.

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    Quote Originally Posted by luvTooQuilt View Post
    ~Baking soda in a canning jar- omit lid cover with cheesecloth or something mesh-y like- and screw on band... Decorate jar or leave as is.........
    I'm sensitive to scented products, so I'm going to try this. Baking soda is cheap and works in my frig and freezer. Thanks for the tip.

  8. #8
    Super Member LynnVT's Avatar
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    Febreze. It does not add a smell, it clears away unpleasant ones. There are different kinds now, so go with the one that just leaves fresh air fragrance. Also, find out if moisture is the culprit somehow. Is there dampness from the basement or foundation?
    "The business of life is making memories. In the end, it is all we have." Butler Charlie Carson, Downton Abbey, season 4, episode 3, PBS.

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    Senior Member Gigi07's Avatar
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    I usually use baking soda but lately have tried the scented beads... either works well.
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  10. #10
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    You don't say whether your fabrics are stored out in the open or enclosed in drawers/boxes/bins. If there is inadequate air circulation, that may be what's causing the odor you smell. I'd be looking for the cause of the problem, not just a cover-up scent to use. Whatever you decide, keep those cedar balls out of direct contact with your fabrics. They'll discolor it.
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    I have asthma and sensitivity to fragrances. Our lower level has a walkout, but we spend more time in the upper level which is at street level.

    We've placed open boxes of baking soda in the lower level. My favorite trick is to air out the area when feasible to just get a good air exchange. When airing isn't an option, I put a fan on low to medium speed while I am downstairs. My thinking is that there is more air movement.

    Last, but not least, white vinegar is used on both levels. I tuck a glass dish in the bottom of a plastic food storage container. Fill the dish half way with generic white vinegar and allow the liquid to evaporate naturally. No, we don't smell like a salad! Odors are kept under control without using oils and scented products. Afterall, I don't and can't shop in or purchase fabric from shops highly scented with candles or potpourie as the fragrance takes away my breath.

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    I'm thinking it's the plastic containers. I think the smell will disappear when you wash the fabric. Do you think you have an extra sensitive nose? My daughter does--when we traveled when she was a teen she could smell things miles before the rest of us did. Things like a cattle farm--she could smell it long before we could see it. Maybe you could get a package of cheap wash cloths and wet them with the lavender water and place around the room for a short time and remove them before the smell becomes too strong. Hope you solve this problem before it drives you crazy!!!
    Sue

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    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I agree with not covering up the odor. Is your room by any chance in the basement? Moisture of any kind generates odors and is also bad for fabric.

    Charcoal is really good at absorbing odors. Dr. Scholl's Odor-Eaters shoe inserts with charcoal are a really easy way to use charcoal inside plastic bins. My vintage featherweight case had an odor that would *not* go away, no matter what I did, until I added one of those shoe inserts to the box. It completely cleared up the odor.

    Another thing you can do is add some dessicant to each box -- like the little packets that come inside vitamin pill bottles. You can buy it in bulk at a place like Walmart, as it is used to dry flowers (you bury the flower in dessicant and the dessicant pulls all the water out). I haven't used this myself but, if it's sand-like rather than flour-like in texture, it should be easy to whip up some cloth packets of dessicant for this use.

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    Senior Member pinkberrykay's Avatar
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    I say baking soda, you can buy the refrigerator kind that has the tear away side and will pull the odor out. Good luck let us know what happens.

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    Super Member burchquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LivelyLady View Post
    That's what I use, too. I put them in my bureau drawers, too. I leave the soap in the wrappers....works great.
    I've done that, too. I've also put in dryer sheets & perfume strips from magazines.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99 View Post
    I agree with not covering up the odor. Is your room by any chance in the basement? Moisture of any kind generates odors and is also bad for fabric.

    Charcoal is really good at absorbing odors. Dr. Scholl's Odor-Eaters shoe inserts with charcoal are a really easy way to use charcoal inside plastic bins. My vintage featherweight case had an odor that would *not* go away, no matter what I did, until I added one of those shoe inserts to the box. It completely cleared up the odor.

    Another thing you can do is add some dessicant to each box -- like the little packets that come inside vitamin pill bottles. You can buy it in bulk at a place like Walmart, as it is used to dry flowers (you bury the flower in dessicant and the dessicant pulls all the water out). I haven't used this myself but, if it's sand-like rather than flour-like in texture, it should be easy to whip up some cloth packets of dessicant for this use.


    I really like the idea for charcoal odor eaters..lol.. Sounds crazy but i bet it works like a charm..

    I have been collecting, gathering, picking up wherever I can find those lil white packets that come in just about everything, new shoes especially.!!!. I have my family saving them for me too... I store all my fabrics in rubbermaid or sterilite clear drawer containers and I toss in those lil white packets absorbing crystal thingies.. Never gave it a thought that it would remove smells, It was another way for me to keep possible moisture away from my fabrics..

  17. #17
    Super Member MaryMo's Avatar
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    These suggestions are all great. I have had this problem too but did not realize it was the fabric. I wash most of the fabric when it comes into my house but still have some odor. Vinegar is wonderful for a great many things, I think I will give it a try and go on to other ideas. Thanks you all!
    Make it a scrappy happy day!

  18. #18
    Senior Member laynak's Avatar
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    Great ideas, everyone! My room isn't in a basement or subject to moisture. However, the fabrics likely don't get much, if any, air in the closet's cloth/cardboard bins, the dresser or the plastic storage caddy. I'm intrigued by the odor eater inserts and a few bars of soap (have some travel size). And, thanks for the warning about cedar balls possibly staining fabrics. I am sensitive to the smell of lavender and to many room fresheners. Keeping it as simple as possible without adding much fragrance is best for me. Plus, if I make something for someone else, I don't want it to come with a fragrance they may not like.
    Funny, the baking soda idea is probably the easiest but I limit using it to the refrigerator. I just may try that in the closet itself and then add soaps or charcoal inserts to individual containers/drawers where they might be most helpful.
    Good project for Labor Day weekend....freshening up the fabrics!

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    Adds to the electric bill, but I run the dehumidifier as much as I can. On low, so it runs when it needs to. Made a big difference in our downstairs, where all the fabric and batting is. I store insulbrite and the silver heat resistant fabric in a drawer all by themselves because of the 'odor' they have. I also put honeysuckle or lilac candles (never light them) in our family room, which is right off the sewing rooms. Walmart and others carry DampRid, which I haven't tried yet. Curious if they work. http://www.walmart.com/ip/FG90-DampR...Pouch/15033117
    I have asthma so I cannot have anything with strong odors or musty damp smells. Even the tiniest bit of moisture in the air and I have to up my daily dose of Advair. On the lowest dose 1x a day because of the dehumidifier on the Central Air and the stand alone dehumidifier. If you use starch, check where the over spray goes. This can accumulate on the flooring or walls, which can bring on odors and the bugs.

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    Super Member Veronica's Avatar
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    I wash all of my fabric before I bring it in the sewing room and never have bad smells.
    I think it's the chemicals your smelling.
    Veronica

  21. #21
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    It's not just cedar balls that can damage fabric. Anything made from wood fibers, including cardboard boxes, contains acid that gradually eats into fabric. "Archival quality" papers and cardboards have been treated to remove the acid, so they are safe, but they are also horribly expensive.

    In short, you do not want to store fabric in contact with paper, cardboard, or wood of any kind (including cedar chests). It's okay to store fabric or quilts in a cedar chest *if* they are encased so the fabric does not have direct contact with the wood.

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    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    To add a PS to Prism's post...that only applies to unsealed wood. Painted or urethaned shelves, for instance, are safe. Also FYI, the bolts that fabrics come on are acid free...I tested several of them.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

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    Super Member paulswalia's Avatar
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    In my experience, once a fabric has developed a "smell" whether its from humidity, dust, lack of air so the chemicals in the fabric take over, you won't get rid of the smell until the fabric is washed. Any new fabric placed with the older fabric will adopt the same smell. All of the above recommendations are good for clearing the air in the room, but not in the fabric. Seems you have two choices, wash all the fabric now and cure the cause or wash the quilts when they are finished to remove any oder.
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    Senior Member HouseDragon's Avatar
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    NO Febreze, PLEASE!

    Please, please don't use Febreze if you give away or sell your quilts. Those of us who are allergic to Febreze can get contact dermatitis that can take weeks to get rid of and it can act as an attack trigger to those of us with asthma.

    Unfortunately, I've had both happen to me. I woke up with every part of my body not covered by my nightie broken out after sleeping one night under sheets washed in a laundry soap "with Febreze" at my DD's. And I could never understand why the back of my legs would break out after visiting my DDIL's: they sprayed their couch with Febreze.


    Thank you to the poster who suggested the charcoal shoe inserts. I know that idea is going to come in handy at some point!

    I store my fabrics in plastic bins stacked on top of each other with a rolling bin at the bottom of each stack. Because of their construction, the bins are not air tight which lets air circulate to a limited extent. Fabrics are usually washed as they are bought but not always. I pink the cut edges before washing which makes it quick & easy to tell "Washed or not washed?".

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    What kind of test did you do to tell that the bolt cardboards are acid free?

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