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Natural Fabric Deodorizers for Used Upholstery, Rugs, and Textiles

Remove Musty Smell, Smoke, and Other Odors with Natural Fabric Deodorizers

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When you buy used upholstery, rugs, and textiles from flea markets and yard sales, you inevitably inherit other people's odors -- smoke, food, body, and pet odors. And with antique and vintage pieces, a musty smell is almost a given. Before you buy a commercial product full of heavy perfume, try these natural fabric deodorizers to remove musty smells and other odors:

Vodka:

In addition to being a natural deodorizer, vodka kills bacteria. Fill a spray bottle with the cheap stuff, and use it straight. You won't smell the alcohol once it dries.

  • For rugs, intact upholstery, draperies, and other textiles, spray liberally with the vodka and let dry.
  • For upholstery you plan to reupholster, first remove the original fabric. Next, spray the stuffing and foam liberally. Be sure it's completely dry before attaching the new fabric.

Baking Soda:

Baking soda is a household miracle product. It's completely nontoxic and absorbs odors marvelously.

  • For rugs and intact upholstery, sprinkle generously with baking soda and leave for 24 hours before vacuuming.
  • For upholstery you plan to reupholster, remove the original fabric, and then sprinkle the stuffing and foam. Leave for 24 hours. Vacuum carefully, so you don't accidentally destroy the stuffing.

Coffee Grounds:

Coffee grounds both absorb and mask odors, perfect for the really stinky pieces. You have to use fresh, unused grounds. This is one case where recycling is bad.

  • For rugs, sprinkle generously with coffee grounds. Wait 24 hours before vacuuming.
  • For intact upholstery, sprinkle coffee grounds and leave for 24 hours before vacuuming. Additionally, tuck coffee ground filled sachets under and behind loose cushions, and in all crevices. You can use individual serving coffee bags, the thin ones that look like tea bags, or save money by tying loose grounds into cheesecloth, old stockings, or medical gauze. Leave these in place after you've vacuumed up the loose grounds.
  • For upholstery you plan to reupholster, follow the above instructions for loose and encased coffee grounds, but use caution when vacuuming so you don't damage the stuffing. Leave the coffee bags or sachets as long as possible, but remove them before attaching the new fabric.

As with all products and remedies, test these methods on an inconspicuous spot before applying to the entire item.

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