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Removing MILDEW odors?

I was just offered a bunch of embroidery kits and yarns which reek of mildew; the person was going to just toss them but thought I might be interested.

I need ideas on how best to de-mildew these guys without ruining them!

Thanks!
More rabbits than thread but plenty of enthusiasm!
onafixedincome
Joined: 6/23/2011 12:43 am
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Re: Removing MILDEW odors?

Hi, Pam - What type of thread and fabric are you talking about?

If you're willing to take the risk, you might try lemon juice and water. Squeeze a lemon and dilute the juice a bit, and soak it all in it. Then rinse really thoroughly (really, really thoroughly) and lay out to dry where there's plenty of air circulation. You "could" even lay the stuff out in the sun for a bit to dry, but do that with caution and don't leave it out there for very long. At first, though, I'd try drying inside, with plenty of air circulation and moving it around so that it dries all over faster.

Lemon juice is acidic and it can act like bleach, so I wouldn't soak the stuff for very long - just long enough to work the lemon juice into it really well. And then the rinse should be really thorough.

Are there any mildew stains on any of the fabric? Those should be specially treated. You can rub the spot with lemon juice and put them out in the sun to dry for a short time, then rinse thoroughly.

I've not tried this with threads before. You may lose some color. You might test a small lot first.

Let me know if you try it and how it goes!

MC
MaryCorbet
Joined: 6/1/2011 9:45 am
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Location: Kansas
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Re: Removing MILDEW odors?

I am not sure about stitched items, but on fabrics I have used hot vinegar water. The vinegar works great from mopping floors as a safe bleach alternative, as well as in the clothes washer. I had some clothes that had a strong mildew smell from being stored in the garage of my mother in laws when I was activated for war. By the time I got them home... ugh... I washed everything from whites, colors and dark with a cup of vinegar per medium load. Did an extra rinse cycle too! By the time the clothes came outta the dryer.. you would never have known.

May try to hand wash in the sink using a mesh bag so the dunking in the sink will keep things from becoming a mess and a half. Then rinse really good... air dry in a well vented/air moving area. :)
Melissa (SewNSane) Schermerhorn ;)
SewNSane
Joined: 6/22/2011 11:38 am
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Re: Removing MILDEW odors?

Well, I haven't seen/smelled these yet, so can't answer your questions until I do! :)

My only hesitation with lemon juice is that heat turns lemon juice brown, as I recall my childhood experiments with 'invisible ink'...might make for some interesting ground fabric if the juice wasn't rinsed out well enough! :)

I suspect that hot vinegar water rinsing followed by extra rinsing with plain water and then hung in the sun will be my first try....

It'll be a challenge. :)

THANKS! :)
More rabbits than thread but plenty of enthusiasm!
onafixedincome
Joined: 6/23/2011 12:43 am
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Re: Removing MILDEW odors?

The best thing I know of for removing odours (as opposed to stains) is sodium bicarbonate (bicarb; carb soda). I first discovered it when my children were little and threw up in their beds - a friend recommended just picking up the bedding, throwing it in the washing machine with a decent sprinkle of carb soda, and no more odour. Worked a treat.
However for your stuff I would do it by hand in a basin or small sink and you should only need a teaspoon or two of the carb soda. Unlike lemon juice or vinegar, it won't affect the colour.

But .... if there are mildew stains as well, I'm afraid it is back to the lemon or vinegar.

BTW, fwiw, we no longer use commercial fabric softeners in our machine as they tend to clog up the works. Now we use white vinegar with a few drops of essential oil of lavender, and it too works a treat. :D
Christina
Joined: 6/21/2011 11:57 pm
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Re: Removing MILDEW odors?

Baking soda, great idea!
Elizabeth Morgan from Churchlinens.com and a many year altar guild person swears by cream of tartar. She boils the linens to take mildew stains out. If they are linen or cotton I would try that first. I have a piece of Madeira embroidery that had mildew stains and it worked great. Don't remember if I boiled or just used hot water. Worth a try before a bleaching agent.
BTW salt, lemon and drying in the sun will take out even ink stains from white fabric.
AnneG
Joined: 6/27/2011 1:16 pm
Posts: 48

Re: Removing MILDEW odors?

I received a mess of wool thread that reeked of smoke and mold. I put it in a mesh bag. Swished it in cold water and woolite. After it dried it still had a slight smell to it. So I stuck it in tupperware with a lavender sachet. Now its wonderful to work with. I am going to start keeping Lavender in with all my embroidering things. :D
Therese
Joined: 6/22/2011 9:34 am
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Re: Removing MILDEW odors?

I had read this thread and was in the same boat. I had items with cutwork and hand made lace that were lovely but malodorous. I left them spread out in a room that had lots of ventilation and sun for a couple of weeks while I decided what to do and am surprised but happy to report the odor went away.
Sue Stitches
Joined: 7/4/2011 2:13 pm
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Re: Removing MILDEW odors?

I highly recommend using OxyClean to remove brown spots, mildew patches, dirt, odors, etc. from vintage linens, tea towels, crocheted items, and other fabrics. Because OxyClean is a natural "enzyme" cleaner, it is very gentle. Soak the item in a glass bowl, or basin, of warm water and a couple of tablespoons (or more) of OxyClean. I let it soak for three or four hours, then rinse well. If there are still traces of mildew, spots, or odors, repeat.

For larger items, I use a cup of OxyClean and warm water in my washing machine. It works beautifully for removing age-related stains and odors from my vintage quilts and table linens.
CarolynPhi
Joined: 6/26/2011 1:16 pm
Posts: 4

Re: Removing MILDEW odors?

I forgot about OxyClean.... good idea.

Just remember, though - don't use OxyClean on silk! It's great on linen and cotton but not meant for silk.

~MC
MaryCorbet
Joined: 6/1/2011 9:45 am
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