How To Get Mothball Smell Out Of Vintage Clothes
There’s nothing quite like the charm of finding a hidden gem in a vintage store or thrift shop. The thrill of discovering a unique piece of clothing that no one else will have is unbeatable. However, one common issue that vintage clothing enthusiasts often face is the mothball smell that can linger on these garments. The distinctive odor of mothballs can be unpleasant and difficult to eliminate. But fear not, in this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through various methods to get rid of mothball smell from your beloved vintage clothes.
Why Do Vintage Clothes Smell Like Mothballs?
Before we delve into the remedies, let’s understand why vintage clothes often have a mothball smell. In the past, mothballs were commonly used as a way to protect clothes from moth infestations. Made from chemicals such as naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, mothballs release a strong odor that deters moths from damaging fabrics. However, this scent tends to stick around and can become deeply embedded in the fibers of vintage garments.
1. Air It Out
The first and simplest step to eliminate mothball smell is to let your vintage clothes breathe. Lay them out in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors, for a few days. Fresh air and sunlight can work wonders in removing odors naturally. Ensure that the clothes are not exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods to prevent fading or damage.
2. Use Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is an excellent odor absorbent that can effectively neutralize mothball smell. Place the vintage clothes in a garment bag or a sealed container along with a few activated charcoal sachets. Leave them for a week or so, and the charcoal will absorb the unpleasant odor, leaving your clothes smelling fresh.
3. Vinegar Soak
Vinegar is a household staple that works wonders in removing various odors, including mothball smell. Fill a bathtub or basin with water and add one cup of white vinegar. Submerge the vintage clothes and let them soak for at least one hour. Afterward, rinse the garments thoroughly with clean water and allow them to air dry. The vinegar will help neutralize the mothball odor and leave your clothes smelling clean.
4. Baking Soda Treatment
Baking soda is another versatile household product that can help eliminate unwanted odors, including mothball smell. Create a solution by mixing water and baking soda to form a paste. Apply the paste directly to the affected areas of the vintage clothing and let it sit for a few hours. Rinse it off with cold water and allow the clothes to air dry. Baking soda effectively absorbs odors, leaving your garments fresh and odor-free.
5. Steam Treatment
The steam treatment is an excellent option to remove mothball smell from delicate or non-washable vintage clothes. Hang the garments in a steamy bathroom, allowing the steam to penetrate the fibers and freshen up the fabric. Alternatively, you can use a handheld steamer to target specific areas. Steaming will not only remove odors but also help relax any wrinkles or creases in the clothes.
6. Kitty Litter Method
While it may sound unusual, kitty litter can be surprisingly effective in absorbing mothball smell. Fill a clean sock or a fabric bag with unscented, clay-based kitty litter and tie it up securely. Place this pouch with your vintage clothes in a sealed container or garment bag for several days. The kitty litter will absorb the mothball odor, leaving your clothing smelling fresh.
7. Essential Oils
Essential oils not only have a pleasant scent but also possess natural deodorizing properties. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, such as lavender or lemon, to a spray bottle filled with water. Lightly mist the vintage clothes with this mixture, taking care not to saturate the fabric. Hang the clothes to air dry, and the essential oils will help mask the mothball smell.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Can I use mothballs to remove the mothball smell?
No, using additional mothballs will only intensify the odor and may damage the vintage clothes further. It is recommended to use natural remedies for eliminating mothball smell.
Q2. How frequently should I repeat the remedies?
The repetition of remedies depends on the intensity of the mothball odor. For mild smells, one round of treatment may be sufficient. However, for stronger odors, it may be necessary to repeat the remedies for better results.
Q3. What precautions should I take while using vinegar or essential oils?
When using vinegar, ensure that the garment is colorfast to prevent any color bleeding or fading. For essential oils, always perform a patch test on an inconspicuous area of the fabric to check for any adverse reactions.
Q4. Can professional dry cleaning remove mothball smell?
Professional dry cleaning may help in removing mothball smell, especially from delicate or non-washable vintage garments. However, be sure to inform the dry cleaner about the specific odor issue to ensure they use appropriate methods.
Q5. Can I use fabric softener to mask the mothball smell?
Fabric softeners may temporarily mask the smell but won’t effectively eliminate it. It is best to use natural deodorizing remedies mentioned earlier.
Mothball smell may be a common issue with vintage clothes, but with the right techniques, you can successfully eliminate this odor and enjoy your treasured pieces without any unpleasant scents. Whether it’s airing out, using activated charcoal, vinegar, baking soda, steam treatment, kitty litter, or essential oils, there is a remedy for every vintage clothing lover. Remember to choose the method that suits your garments’ needs and always take proper caution to preserve the fabric’s quality while removing the mothball smell. With a little effort and patience, you can restore the garments to their former glory and embrace the nostalgia of wearing vintage clothes.