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Thread: Where do I start to try to remove heavy odor of smoke????!!###

  1. #1
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    We are cleaning out the apartment of a family member who, along with her mother, were heavy smokers. Your suggestions would be appreciated.

    I asked for the quilt completed by my paternal grandmother prior to her death in 1951.

    It is composed of 4-inch finished patches of two squares of fabric with flannel as the batting. The edges of each patch are turned under and stitched down by hand. Then, the individual patches are sewn together by hand using a whipstitch.

    I need to get the smoke odor out and some of the off white fabric is a more loosely woven muslin. I know everything should be 100 percent cotton, but doubt that the flannel was preshrunk. Hopefully the cotton thread is still strong. Please help me..... Thanks, Kay Susan

  2. #2
    Esqmommy's Avatar
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    Somebody suggested Febreeze in another thread.

  3. #3
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    Soaking! You need to let the tar and resins from the smoke dissolve or else you'll just be disguising the odors.

    I'd let it soak overnight in shampoo to cut any greasy residue, then rinse well and wash gently. If possible, dry outside in the sun. Using a dryer will shrink muslin up for sure.

  4. #4
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I would soak it in cold water and a mild soap (Synthrapol if you're not sure of colorfastness) in the washing machine. Just stop the machine before it gets to the agitate cycle. Push down by hand once in awhile to work the soapy water through the quilt. Drain and add new cold water and soap daily. Drain, add cold water, hand agitate, drain, add cold water, hand agitate to rinse. After the final rinse, I would "block" the entire quilt.

    If weather permits, you can block outside. Lay a large sheet on grass, lay the quilt on top of the sheet, and have a couple of people pull opposite corners to get the quilt straight in all directions. Lay another clean sheet on top and anchor the edges with stones. Allow to dry outside.

    If quilt still isn't quite squared after it's dry, you can bring it inside to a carpeted area, lay on top of a sheet, mist with water, straighten and pin it to the carpet to dry again.

    That's what I'd do because I think this is the safest way to clean the quilt. There probably won't be much shrinkage if you use cold water, and blocking while the quilt is still wet will also help. Even more than hot water, the heat of a dryer will shrink flannel quickly.

    Even with unshrunk flannel, a quilt will not shrink if it is closely machine quilted. That is another option if you could stand to machine quilt it while the odor is in the quilt. You could even use a machine basting stitch if you didn't want the machine quilting to be permanent. For machine basting, I would use a crosshatch pattern with lines every 2 inches in both directions.

  5. #5

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    I have rentals and when tenants move out that are heavy smokers I use vinegar and baking soda in water..............it gets the smell out totally. You'd never know smokers had lived there.

    I don't see why this combo wouldn't work on a quilt. It is all natural ingredients. Just letting it soak and use gental cycle on the machine should work.

  6. #6
    Super Member LindaR's Avatar
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    someone suggested to me to put in plastic bag with dryer sheets? Didn't try it but if it can't be washed might work.

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    Soak in water with white vingegar.

  8. #8
    community benefactor Knot Sew's Avatar
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    I use vinegar it seems to work well on oders.....Just putting it outside to air helps...its slow going but it does work after awhile...keep it in the shade

  9. #9
    Loose Threads's Avatar
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    I agree that vinegar gets out odors. Don't use Febreeze or fabric sheets as they will simply make it smell like something not natural. You want it sunshine fresh! Good luck.

  10. #10
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    If you have things from her house that can not be washed you can seal them in a plastic bag with a bar of deodorant soap. It will take out the smoke smell without making the item smell like the soap. I know this works with Safeguard and Dial deodorant soaps. It generally takes about 2 weeks for the smoke smell to go away with this method.

  11. #11
    Member glennis's Avatar
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    I have had a great deal of success with oxiclean, the cheap one from Walmart. Dissolve about a cup in hot water and then add cold. Fill in washer and just gently push quilt down into it. Soak at least 24 hr, gently agitate and spin out on gentle. Then let fill with rinse water, agitate gently again and spin on gentle. I then hang on my deck rail so not all weight is on an end. This has worked several times for me.

  12. #12
    Super Member Shemjo's Avatar
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    Good information! :lol:

  13. #13
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I read this about removing tobacco smoke from quilts. Put the quilt in a big trash bag with several bars of Safeguard soap (original scent) for a week. Safeguard is the only soap that would work.

  14. #14
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    If you have old textiles that you're determined to wash do it in the bathtub not the washer!! The agitation in a modern washer can turn old textiles into shreds! Even just spinning could rip some textiles depending on how delicate their condition is. Line the bathtub with a sheet and gently squeeze the water thru your textiles. Do not wring or twist! After you have rinsed extremely well you use the sheet to lift the textiles out of the tub.

    There is a special product made for washing old textiles. I think it's called something like Antique Textile Wash.

  15. #15
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    We got some smoky pieces of fabric items from Pat's grandpa and it took forever to get them to their former splendor. I soaked the pieces in lukewarm water in the bathtub and I think I used Woolite. I must have changed the water a gazillion times before it was clear and the true color of the pieces showed.

    I squeezed out most of the water and then rolled the piece in large bathtowels. Took it outside to dry.

    Good luck!

  16. #16
    Senior Member dmackey's Avatar
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    Never use fabreeze or any dryer sheets on anything! They just mask odors and they also collect odors over time that are even harder to get rid of.

    I agree that Vinegar and Baking Soda are your best bets. Make sure you dilute each of them well. Both products dissolve the dirt molicules and neutralize the odors naturally, and neither should harm your fabric. Both also soften the water, so that it cleans better. Oxyclean does basically the same thing and uses a stabilzed oxygen to dissolve the dirt molicules and neutralize odors.

    If the quilt is off white or white, then you could use 3% hydrogen peroxide well diluted to soak in as well.

    Always rinse very well, and dry outside as others have suggested.

  17. #17
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    Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my dilemna.

    I did bring home some cotton fabric which I will wash with soap and vinegar. This fabric will be for charity projects which a guild makes.

    I will take my time before doing the double bed size quilt. I plan to move the dining room table and line the carpeted floor with heavy duty vinyl tarp before placing white sheets on top. I will use gentleness as I am afraid the fabric might shred. If I make a sheet sandwich with the quilt in the middle, I should be able to roll and turn over the quilt for drying.

    My husband thinks this is too much work, but he is NOT the quilter in the family. The pattern is unusual and this is something tactile from Grandma :)

    Meanwhile, the next few weekends will be taken up with travel back and forth to clean out the apartment. I am grateful that my family is very understanding.

    Piecefully yours,
    Kay Susan

  18. #18
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    I use Odor-ban from Sams Club after i wash something i use it in the rinse cycle works for me

  19. #19
    jacquemoe's Avatar
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    I believe you have a lot of good advice as to getting the smoke out (except for using Fabreze) but I sure wouldn't lay it out in direct sunlight. I did that once and some of the colors in my quilt faded BADLY and my fabric wasn't old. The towel idea sounds pretty good.

  20. #20
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    I'd be very cautious about putting anything damp on a rug, even if there is a sheet in between the quilt and the rug. If the rug has a strong color, it could lose its dye to the sheet AND the quilt.

    Or vice versa.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Quiltntime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kay carlson
    We are cleaning out the apartment of a family member who, along with her mother, were heavy smokers. Your suggestions would be appreciated.

    I asked for the quilt completed by my paternal grandmother prior to her death in 1951.

    It is composed of 4-inch finished patches of two squares of fabric with flannel as the batting. The edges of each patch are turned under and stitched down by hand. Then, the individual patches are sewn together by hand using a whipstitch.

    I need to get the smoke odor out and some of the off white fabric is a more loosely woven muslin. I know everything should be 100 percent cotton, but doubt that the flannel was preshrunk. Hopefully the cotton thread is still strong. Please help me..... Thanks, Kay Susan
    I'm not a smoker, but I read about a product called, Lord Byron's Smoker's Fabric Refresher. It is specially designed to get the smoke smell out of fabrics. Wal-Mart carries it.

  22. #22
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    Good ideas from everyone!! Thank you so much.

    I would place a vinyl/plastic tarp or drop cloth on top of my carpeted flooring prior to using towels or sheets underneath a damp quilt.

    You really have been encouraging me with your suggestions. :D

  23. #23
    Senior Member mrsjdt's Avatar
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    I would suggest washing it with whatever you would wash your best sweater (or check caring for a vintage quilt)..and, add vinegar to the water...vinegar sets colors, should not damage it. I'd do it in the bathtub (or washtub if you have one). No agitation in a machine (may need an extra set of hands to "ring out")

  24. #24

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    My daughter made a beautiful T-shirt quilt for a friend and I took it to my quilt group for show-and-tell. She and my SIL smoke and I didn't think to take it out of the bag and look at it. When I took it out at the quilt group it reeked of smoke! I remembered that my Mom used to air the winter things that were put away with moth balls in the fall. So I took it home and hung it on a line outside on the covered patio and left it there for 24 hours. Worked great and all the odor was gone. I think I would be cautious about washing it if you don't know whether the flannel was prewashed or not. Just a thought.

  25. #25
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i wash old quilts in the bathtub because that seems to me to exert the least amount of 'pull' on them. i use the sheet trick and the towel trick, but when i take it outside, before i spread it out, i carefully step on the rolled up towel to squish out all leftover water. that makes the quilt much lighter to handle. then i lay it out on a clean dry sheet, in the shade, squaring up as well as i can. with less water, it's much easier to square. when i put the second sheet on top, i pat as i go to flatten it out. i try not to pull at all. i think that would tear the old fibres. then i hope that it won't rain. when it's almost dry, i bring it inside and find a safe place to let it finish drying. why push my luck? by that time it hardly weighs anything, so if i have to, i can put it to dry on the guest bed. if not, then it goes on the carpet.

    btw, i never move it without rolling it up in the bottom sheet first. then i carry the bundle like a baby. that also relieves the weight..

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