Tips For Making Thrift-Shop Clothes Smell Wonderful

by Bonnie in , Comment — Updated April 19, 2024

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Tired of that musty, dusty smell that lingers on your vintage items? Some (and perhaps the best!) second-hand items have been in closets or attics for years, and one cycle through the washing machine won’t be enough to get the embedded odors out of the material. Other items are hard to wash, like coats with leather and fur trim, and beaded clutches.

Here are a few tips for eliminating odors. Usually, it is best to complete two steps. The first is to absorb and eliminate the odor, and the second is to add your own yummy scent.

Step One: Absorb the Odor

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Free-Photos / Pixabay

When you smell something on your second-hand clothes, such as cigarette smoke, moth-balls, or unpleasant perfume, it means that there are physical molecules embedded into the material of the item. Luckily, we have a DIY guide to deodorize thrift store finds.. The substance likely was in the form of a gas when it infiltrated the material, and may be present at a low concentration.

To get the pesky smell out, you must find a way to free the trapped molecules. The most effective way to do this is to absorb them with a compound that attracts stray molecules. Another way is to use a disinfectant that will neutralize the molecules.

Absorbing agents such as kitty-litter, baking soda, and activated charcoal work very well. Seal the smelly item up with your compound of choice, and leave it for at least 24 hours.

Disinfectants such as distilled white vinegar or vodka can be placed under the clothing item in a dish, so that the liquid evaporates up into the garment where it can interact with the trapped molecules. You can also spritz the disinfectant over the item and let it evaporate.

Step Two: Add Your Own Scent

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santarina81 / Pixabay

Now that you have gotten rid of the old scent, you can add your own. If you store the item in a drawer, toss in a satchel of potpourri or a scented candle. You can also cut a drier sheet into quarter sized pieces to tuck into coat or purse pockets.

If you’ve ever tried simply covering up a musty, icky smell with something more pleasant, you know that it doesn’t usually work. The underlying smell contaminates the whole thing, and you’re left with a bigger mess than before. Start by neutralizing the bad smell, and then add in your own scent.  Do you have any tricks of your own? Let us know in the comments below!.


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