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Thread: Removing musty odor

  1. #1
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    Removing musty odor

    I bought some machines at auction several months ago. I brought one home from the storage unit last week that interests me. However, when I removed the cover, the musty smell was overwhelming. It had 2 old manuals inside the case that seem to be the worst offender. I'm sure part of the problem is that I left the case setting on the concrete floor.

    I've read about featherweight cases smelling bad, but can't seem to find the posts or remember the solution (if there is one). Is there any hope of removing the odor? It's one of those older cases that I assume is wood covered with vinyl.

    bkay

  2. #2
    Senior Member sherian's Avatar
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    I remember my mother in law always using baking soda. She opened and air ,sun , and a cup of baking soda.takes some time.Several days. She had a porch closed in with Windows open. Careful of rain. I do that too! I also use drying sheets that smell good. After baking soda days.

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    I find crumpled up newspaper to be very good at removing odors. Also sitting out in the sun helps a lot.
    Margaret F

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    Try some vanilla extract on cotton balls - works in an antique dresser I store linens in, but I do have to resoak the cotton balls every few years. Also, try some clay kitty litter (non-scented) if you think you can vacuum it out of the case again. Otherwise, fill a large plastic bag with kitty litter and set the case on top. Close the bag tightly and leave for two weeks. This always worked for me when I was a librarian and people brought back skunky books!

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    I use the little packets that come in vitamins or dog treats to keep the moisture out. I put a couple inside the case and close it. It takes a while, but so far, it has worked.

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    Cardboard boxes can be wiped off with a slighly damp cloth, some take the trouble to immerse them in baking soda (it works). Much the same for manuals, I carefully place them on a shelf (in a heated, clean room) leaving the pages half open and the worst airs off quickly. I once bought an old book on how to grow roses, it took several years before the mustly smell was completely gone (must have been laying around in a cellar for years). Oily manuals can be sprinkled with flour or potato starch and let work for a day or two, then brushed off, repeat the procedure if needed.

    For dirty boxes straight out of storage; I clean them with microfiber cloths, well wringed up in soapy water. I use a mild natural soap. Lacquered wood I clean with furniture polish (spray can stuff), it's rather expensive, I go over several times using a few cloths, but it lifts up dirt, grime, smell and shines up. Any strong smell should be improved upon immediately, and air out within a couple of days. In stubborn cases it takes a while, but the trick is to leave the box open in a heated clean room. This time of year I can't leave things outside even for a short while (snow, rain, wind and very little sun anyway), in nice dry summer weather it can be done (not overnight).
    Last edited by Mickey2; 12-08-2016 at 06:19 AM.

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    Dry coffee grounds absorb odor.

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    I had heard that charcoal will remove the odors.

  9. #9
    yel
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    i sprayed fabreeze in one the other day and set it in the sun for awhile ...worked ok so far

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    I unwrapped a bar of Irish Spring soap, and left it in the closed box for about a month. Seemed to work.

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    My Mom went and got what the vacuum cleaner servicemen use to take the smell out of vacuums. It worked on her featherweight box. Hope this helps.

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    Unscented kitty litter--the cheap kind. Put it in a container and inside the box. Shake it from time to time to expose a different surface. If you don't have a kitty to use the rest of the bag, put it in your car in case you find a slick spot this winter! Makes for better traction. The manuals may do ok, if simply taken out and left to room air. Flip the pages occasionally.

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    With closed up things (like a refrigerator) we crumple up newspaper and put it and a tray of charcoal on a lower shelf. The combo of charcoal and newspaper seem to work the best. In one very old garage fridge my brother was using for beverages and 'forgotten' food items, I replaced the paper a couple times and within a week, it was like new.

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    I knew about charcoal but not the newspaper part, I shall note it dow :- ) I have heard of people buying heaps of those tiny silica desiccant bags, but after the initial cleaning and airing out job. A proffesional solution could be a form of ozone treatment, I know it's used to remove smells in cars and furniture, even entire houses.

    What is kitty litter sand made of? Some of it looks like "puffed" clay (heat treated). The kind forming lumps might be something else. Either way, all the smelly cases and cabinets I have had improved vastly after a thorough cleaning, and all the other tricks came as a second step. We should all have better storage spaces

  15. #15
    mac
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    I have several Featherweight cases that smelled rather badly. The first thing I did was wash the inside with soap and water and dry thoroughly. I put coffee beans in the box and closed it. When summer comes and the boxes still have the musty odor, I put baking soda in a container and put that into box and close it up. Then I put it in my car on very hot summer days. If cleaning it with soap and water and putting the coffee beans in them didn't work, then the heat of the car does the job.

    What causes the smell is mold and the heat kills the mold and destroys the smell.

  16. #16
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    Thanks, I will take the machine out and start on the case. This looks like a really nice machine. It's an old Montgomery Ward jewel 21 zig-zag. I assume it's an advance on the singer 15, as the bobbin looks like a 15 bobbin. It's turquoise and the finish is pristine. It has the cams, manual and some extra feet.

    It looks like I'm not going to get to retire until the summer, so I have plenty of time to try different methods.

    bkay

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    I know this was an older post, but a lot of people seem to have this problem. I have two ways of addressing the odor. The first is to remove and replace the soft pad in the bottom of the case -- if yours has one. The other is to place a new, unwrapped bar of soap on the case with the machine when it is closed up.
    "Accomplishment is a consequence of effort" -- Michael Crichton

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    I should note down these tricks, it might come handy some day. After cleaning my machiens and boxes have generally aired out on their own. The latest trick are some bamboo charcoal bags, much larger than a teabags, more like a a pint or two. They are reported to be very efficient. These bags needs to be replaced though, much like baking soda.

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    Wow. What a great variety of fixes!
    I had a case that smelled awful too. I tried the bar of soap first, and after a week or so, it still smelled musty-but with a fresh spring scent. I tried baking soda. I tried vinegar. I even tried charcoal odor eaters for shoes. (They actually worked). but the smell was still there a little. I never did try kitty litter.
    What worked the best for me, was setting the case outside in the sunshine. I left it out there for hours...moving it with the sun, so that the UV light was always on it. At the end of the day, all the odor was completely gone. It still smells fine now, about 2 years later.

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    If I may add my two cents... if the manuals or books smell moldy, try and put them overnight in the freezer... I tried it on old books bought at garage sales and it worked wonders.

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    Thanks for that info, Seb. I sold the machine a few months ago. I'm in Texas and the guy drove from Oklahoma City for it. The first thing he did was count the cams. As it turns out, the machine was named (according to him) the Jewel 21 because it had 21 cams. They were all still there!

    What finally worked for the smell was leaving it in a hot car all summer with cat litter and newspaper in it.

    bkay

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    I've heard of others using hot cars. Unfortunately my cars are garaged. Thx

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandra in Minnesota View Post
    I unwrapped a bar of Irish Spring soap, and left it in the closed box for about a month. Seemed to work.
    Same here.

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