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Thread: Smoke Smell in Garage Sale Fabric

  1. #1
    Senior Member Grambi's Avatar
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    I have always been awed by the garage and estate sale finds that are posted on this board. I figure I would never experience that since I rarely make it to garage sales, especially first thing in the morning before they are picked over. My cousin-in-law is a master garage saler and called me a couple of weeks ago to ask about a sewing machine she was looking at. I went over to give her some advice and when the man who was holding the sale heard that I was a quilter, he said "follow me" and led us into the garage where he had boxes and garbage bags stuffed with fabric, quilt tops, rulers, dozens of books, thread, etc that belonged to his late wife. He had tears in his eyes and said "I knew a quilter would come along today--just take it all please". Free!!!!!. His daughter picked out the finished tops to keep--that's all she wanted of the stash. I paid $20 for an oak quilt rack. His only request was that any fabric I didn't want to keep be donated in his wifes name, Sharmaine.

    Sadly they were both smokers and the fabric reeks. I laided it out on my hammock and every other piece of furniture on the porch to air out for days. There are hundreds of yards (many 6-8 yard cuts) so it couldn't be completely unfolded as I didn't have the room. Because of our severe drought and the time it would take, I can't wash it all. So I have 5 bins packed with sorted and folded fabric. I placed 3-4 bars of deoderant soap in each bin. I will have to wash a load at a time when we get rain and our rainwater tank is full again. I don't feel that I can donate any with the smell and I don't want to use it that way either.

    Any tips on what products to use and how to wash it to get the smoke smell out? I can hang the lighter-colored fabrics on the clothesline in the sun after washing but don't want to fade the brights. I did a test with one white piece and hung it up for a few days without washing. Don't know if the smell went away as a cow pulled it off, chewed it up and spit it out--yuck!!! :roll: :roll:

  2. #2
    Power Poster
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    Could you double bag it until you get rain again and can wash it?

    I know that stuff can really stink, but there have been posts on how to get the smoke smell out.

    Or could you take big loads to a laundromat? Or is washing limited there, too?

  3. #3
    Super Member Airwick156's Avatar
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    LOL that Cow Must be a NON Smoker eh? LOL. Could you maybe toss in a bunch of new Dryer sheets? I really don't have a clue. When I finish a quilt I always fold the quilt with a few randomly placed dryer sheets in it as I was told they help prevent the quilts from picking up the odors as bad. I hope you find a solution soon. I know that someone here will be along shortly to give you lots more advice.

  4. #4
    Super Member moonwork42029's Avatar
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    good luck with it... soooo sorry to hear of the cow being orney. Maybe she needed a bonnet or bib out of it.

  5. #5
    Super Member Gramie bj's Avatar
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    Frebreeze makes a product to add to your washer maybe it would help.

  6. #6
    Senior Member collady's Avatar
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    Try putting dryer sheets in with the fabric. I have found that they help remove odors from many things, including the inside of my grandson's shoes!

  7. #7
    Super Member Twisted Quilter's Avatar
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    I just got 9 yards of fabric at a garage sale that reeked of smoke. I just threw it in the washer with a cup of white vinegar and regular detergent and the smoke smell is gone.

  8. #8
    Super Member scrappy happy's Avatar
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    im wondering if u could put it in the dryer with fabric sheets and run it for awhile if that would get the smell out. but on the other hand i wonder if that would make the dryer smell smokie. maybe try it at the laundermat

  9. #9
    Super Member Charlee's Avatar
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    That much fabric I'd be taking to the dry cleaner and making a deal with them to clean it...

  10. #10
    Super Member Rose_P's Avatar
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    I would continue to store it sealed as you got it and just wash each piece as you're getting ready to use it. I can't say what works, but there are a lot of laundry products that advertise that they remove odors. Good luck.

  11. #11
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    May be you could try the baking soda boxes that are made for the fridge and close it up in the bags or maybe charcoal, it helps with odors and dampness.

  12. #12
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    i read on another board that someone put new tops to be quilted in the plastic bags that has Fabrsse in them. Said it took all the smoke smell out. I have some yarn that was donated that smells of smoke and I will do that to freshen it up.

  13. #13
    Super Member JanetM's Avatar
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    I don't think there is any product that will REMOVE this odor. You might be able to mask it, but the smoke works it's way into the fibers so washing is the only way to REMOVE it. :cry:

  14. #14
    Junior Member cabinqltr's Avatar
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    A couple years ago I inherited alot from my sister, smelled like smoke. Someone told me to get Safeguard soap, unwrap and put 2 or 3 in each gargage bag of fabric for a week or so and it worked wonderfully. No need to wash all that stash. WORKS!!! Ruth

  15. #15
    Super Member Jennifer22206's Avatar
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    I used Arm & Hammer baking soda. And Febreeze works too.

  16. #16
    Senior Member lyndaloo's Avatar
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    There is a product called odormute and it works on removing odors from just about anything. It has a enzyme in it and you can use it in your wash. Just Goggle it and it pops right up. I don't remember where I bought mine, I've had it a long time.

  17. #17
    Senior Member SparkMonkey's Avatar
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    I'd suggest baking soda or activated charcoal, closed up in a container (like a big Rubbermaid tub) with the fabric. You may need to replace it more than once, but it should help.

    I've also heard that crumpled-up newspaper can absorb smells. It's cheap and worth a try.

    Could you lay the brights out in the sun face-down? A big patch of clean, dry grass wouldn't hurt anything, and if the print is facing down it shouldn't fade.

  18. #18
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    I'd take it to a commercial laundry with all their huge machines. Try to find when it is not so busy..and either take someone with you if it's after dark, or a big dog that is very protective.

  19. #19
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    Activated Carbon will do what you need done.
    You get it in the pet department or pet store, it is used for fish aquariums. It is black crystals. Just put some of the crystals in an open top container and set the container into something airtight containing the fabric. (A large gargage bag would be fine until you can do better.) The crystals will draw the smell out.
    Good luck.
    On Edit: I see Sparkmonkey and I were typing the same tip at the same time. :thumbup:

  20. #20
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    I use fresh wave .They have a liquid you can put in you wash now.It works really well.I buy it at ace hardware.They also have a web site

  21. #21
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    Charcoal works good on taking smells out of things.

  22. #22
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    I think I would want the smoky smell washed out - not just camouflaged with another fragrance.

  23. #23

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    like jennifer said, baking soda and fabreeze

  24. #24
    Super Member GwynR's Avatar
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    I just had the same problem, fortunately I did not buy much. I washed two quilts that were done except for the binding. Had to trim them up after that, but it worked, they smell much better. Now I just have to bind them.
    There was bag with 600 squares cut 2.5 inches. Couldn't wash those so I quickly sewed them into 16 patches, then put them in a gallon size ziplock back with a fabric softener. That seems to be working pretty well at keeping the smell bearable.

  25. #25
    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    You might try Febreeze Laundry Odor Eliminator. The plastic bottle says it is good for cooking, smoke, perspiration and pet odors. The only place I have been able to find it in my area is Walmart. I originally bought it to try in my mother's laundry (she is incontinent). It works great. Two days ago I emptied my scrap trunk to start the sorting process. It all smells like old mothballs and mildew and umpteen years of nastiness. Ugh. Anyway I came across a couple of pieces of fabric that smelled like cat pee (perhaps mouse). I was going to toss them in the trash but decided to try the Febreeze Odor Eliminator. I hand washed the fabric and hung it out to dry. When I took it off the line there was no smell. JUst a suggestion for you.

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