8 Simple Ways to De-Stink Your Stuff

by Linsey Knerl on 18 August 2014 0 comments

Whether you have teenagers, animals, or a dirty job, you've probably had to deal with less desirable smells in your clothing, bed linens, or furniture. Sometimes those smells come out with an easy run through the washing machine — but what about those nasty smells that linger after a good cleaning? (See also: 25 Essential Tricks for Quick and Easy Cleaning)

Read on to find ways to take the stink out of just about everything.

1. Musty Smells

When clothes, bedding, and coats get that no-so-fresh smelling, it is often due to how the item has been stored. This musty smell can sometimes be removed with a cycle in the washing machine, but when that's not enough, try one of these other two options.

A cup of vinegar in the wash and another in the rinse cycle can deodorize the fabric without leaving it smelling like vinegar.

Baking soda can also remove the smell. Try adding a cup of it to the wash, and wash as hot as the fabric allows for to freshen up the items.

2. Mold and Mildew

Mold is not only unsafe to breathe, but it also leaves an unpleasant smell on the fabrics it touches. Bleach can safely remove mold, but that only works on white fabrics that can tolerate the bleach.

When bleach is not an option, borax can be used.

Borax is a natural mold killer that also deodorizes fabrics. Add half of a cup to some hot water, giving it time to dissolve before adding it to the washing machine. Run the items through the wash on the longest cycle possible to maximize the borax. When fabrics can't be run through the washing machine — or bleach is not an option — add borax to water with some mild detergent to spot wash out the mold.

Another option for removing mold and mildew is to purchase a product that is meant for cleaning outdoor furniture and boats. Starbrite M-D-G Mildew Odor Control Bags or anything that contains chlorine dioxide will work. Other options for killing mold and removing the smell is to try a cup of baking soda, vinegar, or ammonia with one gallon of warm water.

3. Stinky Feet

Stinking up shoes is a part of life whether you are a kid, a teen, an athlete, or someone who doesn't like socks. It's something most of us have to deal with at some point.

If it is your feet that are funky smelling, a simple wash might not do the trick. You may need to wash, exfoliate the dead skin, dry your feet completely (pay attention to the area between the toes), and then spray them with sanitizer or a product meant for athlete's feet. To prevent the smell from returning, you can sprinkle your clean feet with baking soda before wearing shoes.

If it's shoes that are are in need of some de-funking, add some baking soda to the shoes each night. If the smell lingers, put them in a bag with baking soda and close it up tight overnight. You can also wash some shoes in the washing machine to clean them.

Another option is to freeze the shoes. Freezing kills the odor-causing bacteria in the shoes.

4. Body Odor

Whether it is your running gear, you teen's football uniform, or the winter hat that your youngest always wears, body odor can be difficult to remove from clothing. This is especially true for the armpits of many shirts. A regular washing in the washing machine may not be enough to take the stink out.

Your first order of business is to "strip" the clothing of things like residual detergent, fabric softeners, and perfumes. To do this, wash your clothes with half a cup of white vinegar as well as your regular detergent (be careful to never add too much detergent to a load). The vinegar will help get rid of the oils left behind on the fabric.

If that is not enough to get all of the stink out, soak the clothing in a bucket of water with half a cup of baking soda. Agitate the fabric periodically while allowing the fabric to soak for a few hours. If the stink persists, you can add a paste of baking soda and water to the fabric (this works especially well on the armpits).

5. Cigarette Smoke

Most fabrics, bedding, and clothing can be washed to remove the odor. If it doesn't come out with one washing, use one of the above tricks with vinegar or baking soda to fully remove the smell.

Removing the smell from cars, furniture, and your home may be more difficult. Wood, plastic, and metal can be washed with a mixture of warm water and vinegar. To wash the wood, wipe it down quickly with a sponge and the solution; wipe dry with a towel and allow to air-dry. Plastics and metals can be allowed to soak in the solution for two to three minutes before rinsing complete and allowed to air dry.

The vinegar smell will not last long, but if the smell bothers you, adding a few drops of essential oils may help (lemon or lavender would be a good choice). Linoleum floors, ceilings, walls and plastics can be washed with a water and bleach mixture will help to remove the smells from those that are safe from bleach.

For cigarette smoke that is really set in, repainting the walls and ceilings may be necessary. Carpets can be professionally cleaned, but it may be best to replace them altogether; you can also try an industrial strength spray that is used for hotel rooms, such as Nok-Out. For walls, treat them with a product like Kilz after they have been thoroughly washed.

6. Campfire Smell

After a weekend of camping or just a night in the backyard with a firepit, your clothes can take on the smell of smoke and campfire that lasts for ages. Wash all fabrics with a cup of vinegar along with your regular wash cycle. For items that can not be washed in the machine, hand wash or seal up in a garbage bag with baking soda. Change out the soda daily until the smell is gone.

7. Burnt Food

The smell of burnt popcorn, bacon or anything that has cooked too long can last in your home for a long time. The best course of action is to clean up the pan, stove, and oven, open the windows to air out the house, and then set a pot of potpourri on the stove to simmer. You can make potpourri with some orange peels, cloves, and enough water to cover or just water and cinnamon sticks (check frequently to re-add water as needed).

8. Animal Smells

Pets bring an extra level of love to any home; they also bring an extra level of stink. Getting the animal stink out of furniture, bedding, and your home can be as simple as a trip through the washing machine but sometimes, that is not enough. For furniture, upholstery, and carpeting use a product called Nature's Miracle.

For stubborn animal smells like skunk attacks, skip the tomato sauce and try a mixture of 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and a few drops of dish detergent. Rub this mixture onto whatever has been affected and let it set for a bit of time then wash with regular soap appropriate for the item. Be careful on what you put hydrogen peroxide on — it can bleach out some materials.

When it comes to taking the stink out of anything, the three best items to have on hand are white vinegar, baking soda, and mild detergent. You may want to keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in a cupboard as well (it has many other great uses as well).

The great thing about these items is that they are all inexpensive and very easy to locate.

What's your favorite way to de-stink? Please share in comments!

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