How To De-Stink The Unwashable

Howdy, ladies!

I checked the archives and found the cure for musty towels and musty jeans, but have you got any advice on de-musting things that can’t be washed? How do I de-stink the unwashable?

We’ve inherited some German Christmas decorations from my husband’s family, some of which are handmade dolls constructed of fabric and other textiley goodness. I adore them, but after years of being in basements and garages, they smell incredibly musty.

Any ideas on how to de-stink without hurting them? I’ve managed to not dip them in Febreze, but the urge is strong.

Musty in Mustyboro

Advice on de-musting things that can't be washed. How to de-stink the unwashable. A way to clean items that can't get wet.

Ivy says:

Good choice, on not dousing them in Febreze. Items like these you don’t want to get wet, as the wetness could damage them. In this case, you are going to want to clean them in a dry fashion.

Find the smallest plastic bag that will hold your items (if they’re really large, a garbage bag will work). Put them in the bag with a mixture of half baking soda and half cornstarch. Close the bag tightly and give it a good shake. Let it sit for a couple of days and take them out and brush off or gently vacuum off all the cornstarch and baking soda. The mixture should have absorbed the smell. If the item has a lot of nooks and crannies canned air may be quite handy.

how to launder unusual items

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Chances are, they’ll never smell like roses, but this will take the worst of the stink away and de-stink the unwashable.

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  1. Keter on November 26, 2008 at 2:57 am

    Put in a ziplock bag and surround with good quality clay cat litter with baking soda. The smell should be gone in a few days, and the cat litter will help pull out any oily stains.

  2. Jenny on November 25, 2008 at 12:14 am

    The baking soda/corn starch works wonders. I’ve used it myself for stuffed animals with mechanical innards. When storing them long term, my grand mother taught me to place charcoal brickets in corner of the boxes to absorb the musty odor.

  3. Pam on November 24, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Sunshine…..lots of out door sunshine……won’t work where I live
    Northern Indiana and we don’t get much sun in the winter…..but maybe where you are it would work. I store things with a few dryer sheets for a fresh smell.

  4. Tara on November 24, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Not sure if this will work, but for musty books I’ve been told to store them with newspaper for awhile to absorb the smell.

    Since I like the smell of old books, I’ve never tried it.

    I’d wrap the ornaments in tissue paper, and store crumpled newspaper in the box with them, not touching them.

  5. Ccsmomma on November 24, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Also put an old knee high or cut off pantyhose over the end of the vacuum hose. That way if anything is loose it wont be sucked into the vacuum and possibly losted.

  6. nil zed on November 24, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    If you include a bag of Christmassy potpourri in the storage box with them this January, then they may smell a lot more pleasant next year.

    don’t store them in cardboard as the box itself will absorb moisture through the year and pass it on to the contents.

    plastic storage crates, on the other hand, could seal up so tightly that moisture is trapped within. a top that doesn’t fit too closely, or adding ventilation by drilling some holes in the container may help

    add a desicant, you know, like the little packet that comes in the shoebox. google it to find an appropriate product/supplier near you. (seems desiccant is an acceptable alternative spelling based on my searches. I’m in the UK, so it may be a US/UK spelling issue!)

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