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Thread: Quilt Batting Odor Problem

  1. #1
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    Quilt Batting Odor Problem

    Hello everyone. First of all, I am not a quilter, but my mom was. She died earlier this year and recently my dad passed away. I would like to make memory quilts with some of their clothes.

    Though I don't know any of you, I am guessing that most of you have something in common with my mom - stacks of fabric, stacks of patterns and loads of thread and batting. When it's on sale, you stock up! Am I right? Yep, thought so. Mom did too.

    Problem is that the quilt bats (sp?) were kept in the basement and they are smelly. If possible, I would like to use them to make tied quilts. Is there a way to get the musty smell out of them before I put them inside the quilt? There is a small roll of Warm & Natural at the house, but most of them are the other kind - polyester, I think? They are still in the bags that they came in from the store.

    I will never be the quilter that Mom was (all hand-stitching), but Mom taught me to sew and even kept me busy as a little girl sewing quilt blocks (kept me out of trouble ) made with scraps and old clothes, so I know I can do this.

    So, do I ....
    1) Somehow try to wash the bat before inserting it in a quilt. But how? Won't it fall apart in the washer? Maybe even clog up the washer?

    2) Make the block quilt, inserting and finishing it - and then wash the quilt? Hoping against all odds to get the smell out after it is all put together?

    Laying them out in the sun is not an option. It is winter here. We have lots of snow and it is wet.

    What to do? Or, is it not worth the effort and just toss them? Would hate to do that, there are lots of them. I feel like Mom would like me to at least make an effort and to not waste them.

    Does anyone have experience with this?
    Your thoughts?
    Thank you!
    Last edited by QuiltersDaughter2; 12-06-2015 at 11:41 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ClairVoyantQuilter's Avatar
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    Sorry about the loss of your parents . . .but what a wonderful idea to remeber your mom.

    I think if it were me, I'd toss the smelly batting and by new. Washing before use would be risky . . .and hoping the odor would disappear in the wash after its made into a quiot would be even riskier.
    Blessings,
    -Robin

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  3. #3
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    Try putting the dry batt on Fluff in the dryer with a fabric softener sheet and see if that does the trick. Sorry you have lost your Mom but making yourself a memory quilt with her things would be great.

  4. #4
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    have you tried Febreze
    Nancy in western NY
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  5. #5
    Senior Member NatalieF's Avatar
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    actually freezing is a great way to get rid of odors. Otherwise, I would go to the pet store and buy some Nature's Miracle (a pet odor removal product) and pop some in a spray bottle and spray it on the batting.

  6. #6
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I would lay them out in the cold and let them freeze for several days or a week or two.

    Do you know the brand name of the batts? Different polyester battings are manufactured in different ways. If you tie the quilts using polyester batting, you need to place the ties fairly close together. Depending on manufacture, polyester battings may or may not hold up to repeated washings when tied. For tying, you would be safer using Warm and Natural batting with scrim (the kind that says you can quilt 10" apart). This is a very stable batting that will hold up to repeated washings even if ties are not 2" apart.

    If you are going to tie the quilts, my recommendation would be to purchase W&N batting. I would still freeze the polyester battings to see if the odor will come out. If it does, I would either save them for hand or machine quilting or donate them to a charity that will hand or machine quilt them.

  7. #7
    Super Member quiltsRfun's Avatar
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    Before tossing them out I'd try this on at least one.

    Fill the bath tub with water and add baking soda, Oxy Clean or Odo Ban. Add batt and squeeze to get it wet throughout. Let it soak for an hour or so. Empty tub, rinse, and squeeze out as much water as possible. Tumble in the dryer on low heat.

  8. #8
    Power Poster ManiacQuilter2's Avatar
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    Never heard of using the freezer but I think it is worth a try. You can NOT agitate the batting when washing cotton batting otherwise you will have a disastrous mess on your hands.
    A Good Friend, like an old quilt, is both a Treasure and a Comfort

  9. #9
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Quilters do prewash warm and natural batting to pre shrink. Cut a piece to fit your project from the roll, making it several inches larger to accommodate the shrinkage. Here are the instructions from the W&N web site:
    https://warmcompany.com/products/war...n/warm-natural
    As mentioned, do not agitate or spin. You can just soak in your top loader or use your laundry or bath tub.
    So sorry for your loss.
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  10. #10
    Super Member Neesie's Avatar
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    You say the smelly quilt batts were kept in the basement. Since many basements are damp, I'd be afraid that odor might be caused by mildew. If that's the case, you really need to toss those batts. If you use them without actually killing the mildew, the smell will keep returning and ruin your quilts. Merely covering the odor will not kill the cause of the odor.

    If you don't want to toss them, set them aside and tackle them later. In the meantime, either use the Warm & Natural you have or buy new batting.
    Neesie


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  11. #11
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    I have heard of cleaning braided rugs with fresh snow, so Prism99 has the right idea. Just sweep a layer of snow on top to keep debris off, and the snow will also rinse through the bat. Wouldn't hurt, especially if it is mildewed, and you might have to toss it. You could probably soak a bat in the tub with a milder solution of bleach, OR vinegar, OR ammonia(don't mix together!!), rinse, and hang outside when it is warm. That might also help the smell, if it is polyester batting.

    Sorry for your loss. I hope you will keep some of her tools and fabric for later. You might decide you would like to take a class and get into it after you make the memory quilts.

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    Thank you all for your advice! I can't tell you how much I miss my mom and being able to pick up the phone to ask her questions. Being able to ask you all about this is like having lots of Moms all in one place.

    Mom & Dad's house is an hour away, but I will be there later this week and will check the brand names. I googled "quilt batting" and looked at photos. If I had to guess, I'm thinking both Poly-fil & Mountain Mist. There are plenty to try each of your suggestions. I know there is Odo-Ban, Oxyclean, Febreze, fabric softner, vinegar and baking soda at the house. I will hang 1-2 out in the garage to freeze for a week or two as well. If these items that we already have don't work, I will pick up some of the pet odor stuff and try that.

    I really would like to try to find something that works and use these. The quilts will not likely be used a whole lot, as I am making them as emergency quilts to keep in the trunks of cars and for sitting on at soccer games and picnics. I've started cutting up clothes, but I'm not to the cutting squares part yet. So, depending on the number of blocks I get, I will be making 4-12 quilts (kids & grandkids).

    And, if all of these fail, they will be tossed and I will buy W&N when it goes on sale.

  13. #13
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    I am in charge of cleaning out their entire house - the home they lived in for 55 years! So, yes, lots of "stuff". Mom's sewing room will be the last room I do. The most difficult room. Last week, I divided up crochet hooks that were in the living room - enough for each of the 7 females in the family. Having multiples of almost everything sure makes it easier when making these decisions. Pretty sure that's why Mom had so much. Absolutely no arguments - enough for all. I haven't tacked quilting supplies yet, but I won't be surprised if there are 7 sets (or more) of that too.

  14. #14
    Super Member Jeanne S's Avatar
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    I preWash my Warm & Natural cotton batting before using it. I have a side loading machine so no center agitator though. I wash it on a quick cycle, hot water with low spin cycle. Then dry it in the dryer. So I would wash that one. I have never prewashed poly batting however, but it seems more fragile so don't think it would hold up in the washer. Try some of the other suggestions or toss it.
    I just want to spend the rest of my life laughing.

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    I can't believe any of you did not think of the bags that are holding the poly batting. The bags might smell but not the batting inside. I would take the batting in the bags outside, remove it from the plastic bags, and see if it smells. Then if it does smell, I would put it in an old pillowcase and hang it up in the garage to freeze. Perhaps it does not smell at all.
    Good luck with clearing out the house. I used to have a business doing this for other people who worked or did not want to do it. I just finished my niece's and I done my Mother's 11 room house plus attic, garage, and basement. It was a job but I sure found the goodies. Of course, all the sewing stuff, all personal stuff and all her dishes were willed to me because I am the only female with 4 brothers. I had to have auction for all the rest so my brothers got their share
    but now I wish I would have bought more, but those things are gone forever. I wish you well in your endeavor.

  16. #16
    Super Member Irishrose2's Avatar
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    I put my poly batts in the washer and drier to get the wrinkles out. Do not agitate - just soak and spin. For odors, Surf detergent if you can find it. Add washing soda, bleach (not with soda), vinegar (not with bleach), etc. I don't have musty smells, but in the past I had football clothes and currently have dog bedding. Fabric softener and Febreeze leave behind pleasant odors, but really don't remove the problem. Soap of some sort and lots of water are needed. I'm interested in the Gain Fling detergent I've heard advertised. I only use Cheer for me, but am more concerned with odor than color for the dogs' bedding.

  17. #17
    Super Member Bree123's Avatar
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    I've pre-washed both poly & 100% cotton batts. I put in washer with small amount of detergent (no bleach or fabric softener) on cold water and either the soak or handwash cycle. Then, I dry for 20 minutes on low heat & hang dry overnight. Never had any issues with that method & it should get rid of the smell. Try it once, if it's not enough, try adding 1/4 C white vinegar to the wash. I am very sensitive to smells, so I would run it through the wash a second time immediately after the vinegar wash finished. Then, dry same as I always do.

    PS - If you do end up buying new W&N, I've found Walmart.com tends to have better deals than even Joann with a 60% off coupon. I buy 25 yards at a time, but even the individual packages are usually the cheapest. Hope you find some warm, happy memories of your mom as you work on finishing all those lovely quilts she started.
    Last edited by Bree123; 12-06-2015 at 08:50 PM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Sailorwoman's Avatar
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    Would it be an idea to put the polyester batting inside a mesh laundry bag, similar to those made for "unmentionables". The batting might be better protected and less subject to shredding.

  19. #19
    Super Member AZ Jane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Irishrose2 View Post
    I put my poly batts in the washer and drier to get the wrinkles out. Do not agitate - just soak and spin. For odors, Surf detergent if you can find it. Add washing soda, bleach (not with soda), vinegar (not with bleach), etc. I don't have musty smells, but in the past I had football clothes and currently have dog bedding. Fabric softener and Febreeze leave behind pleasant odors, but really don't remove the problem. Soap of some sort and lots of water are needed. I'm interested in the Gain Fling detergent I've heard advertised. I only use Cheer for me, but am more concerned with odor than color for the dogs' bedding.
    When my grandson came back from Afghanistan, his uniforms/clothes/bedding, etc stunk to high Heaven! Think locker room, teenage boys, locked up in hot containers for a while. I washed everything that was washable in detergent (Tide) and Arm and Hammer Baking Soda. Actually worked like a charm. All the stinky boy smell was gone!! If she has a lot of batting packages, it might be worth it to sacrifice one and wash/dry one. I bought it at Wal-Mart, can't remember the price. Just the plain Baking Soda, not detergent with baking soda added.
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  20. #20
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    First of all, my sincere condolences in the loss of both your parents. Your Mom left you a legacy and I'm pleased that you will travel in her footsteps. I've read several suggestions, but leaving the batting outside, especially in cold weather, sounds like it would get rid of the musty basement smell. I would try that before tossing the batting out, as it can be expensive. I wish you good luck with the smelly batting and again, my condolences, as I'm sure it has been a sad and tough year for you.

  21. #21
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    If there is not a moldy smell I would use and try to get the smell out afterwards.
    Batting inside bags may not smell.
    Washing batting may come apart and ruin your washing machine.
    I have been making quilts for about 50 years. I don't have a basement, I do keep a damp rid hanging in my fabric closet.
    I mainly use high loft polyester batting and love it. I quilt on a 9" throat machine.
    Another Phyllis
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  22. #22
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    My sincere condolences on the loss of your parents. It must be very hard to deal with. I hope you find comfort in making memory quilts.

    Let me add my vote for baking soda, if mildew is the issue. While researching refrigerator issues recently, I learned that baking soda is the antidote to mildew.

    Just my $ .02
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  23. #23
    Senior Member gmcsewer's Avatar
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    We had a body odor problem in a man's suit at our house and dry cleaning did not remove it. I began a search for anything that would remove it. Fabreze worked sort of but what worked the best is a product by 501 cleaner. I sprayed it on the underarm area inside and out. It took several applications but the odor finally disappeared. There are these odor removing sprays in several product lines and already in a spray bottle. Good luck with your problem.

  24. #24
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    this was mentioned earlier, but if the batting was stored in the bags it comes in as when it is purchased, very good chance that the batting itself will have no odor. I too have successfully washed both poly and cotton battings on gentle cycle and dried in dryer with no problems whatsoever. It also helps to get rid of the wrinkles. Unless the product has mildewed, there is nothing that couldn't be washed out and used.
    mea

  25. #25
    Super Member quilting cat's Avatar
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    I would try the "week outside in the freezing cold". If you do try washing, use the "delicates" or "hand wash" cycle with a little vinegar added to chlorine bleach (1:4) to kill any mildew. It is safe to premix, but don't try to save the mixture because the bleach will break down. (That's why it doesn't come that way.)
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