Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Getting the Vintage Smell out of Vintage Fabrics

I love nothing more than walking away from a yards sale or thrift shop with a beautiful piece of vintage fabric in my hands. As the saying goes "they just don't make 'em like they used to"!

And anyone who is familiar my work knows I really like to use as much vintage fabric as I can in my bags. It gives me the ability to create items that are a little more unique. A little harder for someone to go to the next hand made shop to find. I love creating combinations of modern and vintage to find that chic, fun look that is just begging for me to discover it!

But  vintage fabrics, can come with a price. A funny smell that comes from years and years of sitting on a shelf, waiting to be discovered :)

Since I have been dealing with this problem for quite a while, I've learned a few tricks to rid that smell as much as possible. After all, who wants someone to notice the smell of their bag before they are able to see how cute it is?!?!
Would you believe I found this fabric as a pair of vintage drapes?? LOVE IT!

First and foremost, when I get home, I wash the fabric with  my favorite home made laundry soap and softener.

 As tempting as this may be to save time and water, I don't recommend skipping the prewash step. The first time I tried this, I went straight to the sink and found my pretty fabrics soaking in a tub of their own filth. Blech.

Next, fill a large sink or tub with enough hot water to cover all of the fabrics you'll be treating.

Someone turned me on to this Febreeze Laundry Odor Eliminator. I found it at Walmart. It was slightly pricey, (I'm dutch, I can't help it!) around $9 a bottle. But it does go a long way. 

 I add one capful of the Fabreeze to my sink which is filled just enough to cover the fabric I'm going to put in it. I then use my hands to mix and squish the fabric around in the hot water, making sure all of the fabric gets fully saturated. This step is actually kinda fun :)
 I let the fabric soak for at least 30 minutes, then transfer it, soaking wet to my washing machine, where I rewash it with my usual laundry products.
 The vinegar as fabric softener is another odor eliminating step. I use it in all of my loads, but I really like to use it with my fabrics. Remember, vinegar smells kind of gross when it goes in, but the smell will be completely gone when the laundry is dry. I promise!
And here is a freshly deodorized load of vintage finds, on my previously deodorized thrift store table cloth :) I can't wait to see what I can make those napkins on the top into....gears turning.....


  1. This is great. I'll have to do that prewash step next time...I love vintage sheets, but that smell does gross me out sometimes! :)

  2. I've been thinking of buying some vintage fabrics, but I have to admit, I've hesitated because some of them smell so stinky. Thanks for these tips.

  3. Thanks you for the tip! I have been trying all sorts of things... I am going to look for that Febreze product next time I am at walmart!


  4. Never knew you could put vinegar in washing machine - something new for me to learn! Saw you on linky party and now google friend following. Please pop by, Karima :)

  5. I love your bags because they are so unique! I think it's awesome that you are able to re-use vintage fabrics and make them into something new :)

  6. Thank you for these instructions. I hope it will remove the smell of moth balls. Wish me well.

    1. oooh, mothballs! I wish you luck!!! If you can still smell it, you can always re-soak and try again. Another product I LOVE for deodorizing is called Solumel, which is made by Melaleuca. So if you have really stubborn mothball smells, see if you can't get your hands on some of this. It's made with tea tree oil and green funny chemicals, which is always a plus :)


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