What is that smell?!? I love shopping thrift stores, estate sales and yard sales for vintage pieces. I’ll pick out the cutest little chest of drawers, load it into my car and then hang my head out the window like a dog on the way home. Pant…pant…pant. If hanging my tongue out would help, I’d do that, too. Sometimes it’s age, mildew or mold. It might even be a well-meaning, sweet little lady whose stored the piece in moth balls. Phew!!! So how do you purchase vintage pieces without holding your nose?
10 Ways to Remove Musty Smells from Vintage Pieces
First things first. Do not leave home without a box of dryer sheets. Whether shopping for clothing, furniture or household items, dryer sheets are your very best friend.
- Stock dryer sheets in your car. Even if you have to apply elbow grease later, these trusty little friends will help you make it home without holding your nose. Place individual sheets in drawers, baskets, and layered between linens or clothing.
- Place ventilated baking soda boxes in furniture, or place the soda in open bowls. Worst case, sprinkle the powder in each drawer to be swept out later.
- Wash the pieces with a 2/1 mixture of water and vinegar.
- Sprinkle high-end potpourri throughout and close up for several days. My sister recently stored furniture, including a mattress in a climate controlled storage unit. When she retrieved the mattress, it stank to high heaven! A renter beside her had filled her unit with moth balls and it had permeated everything my sister owned! After trying everything from baking soda, to carpet freshener to washing the mattress with vinegar, the thing that finally removed the smell was potpourri. She sprinkled the mattress with several bags of potpourri and zipped it up in a mattress-cover. They left windows open, fans blowing and the bedroom door closed so it wouldn’t spread to other rooms. After about a week, she opened the cover and all she could smell was potpourri. She left it a few extra days and then removed/vacuumed the potpourri. Now her guests comment on how great her sheets smell!
- Sand the interior and/or exterior of the piece and re-wash with vinegar and water.
- Sand the interior and wash with Clorox and water. DO NOT use Clorox on exterior of the piece, unless you suspect mold. Then the whole piece will need refinishing.
- Repaint the interior drawers or shelves.
- Re-stain the vintage pieces after sanding.
- Paint the entire piece with a mildew resistant product.
- If the smell is fairly mild, spray with lemon-scented Lysol and then place scented contact paper in drawers or on shelves.
- Bonus! Set it outside in fresh air and sunshine on a low-humidity day. Remove drawers or shelves and allow your vintage pieces to air out separately.
And of course you can leave the house with one more trick up your sleeve. Be sure to wear your natural stone bracelets with essential oils. When the trip home seems unbearable, inhale your fragrance of choice from your own wrist.
Happy trails! And may your path lead you straight to Daphne Antique Galleria; where you won’t have to hold your nose! We’ve done all the work for you.
Partying with these lovely folks: