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Clothes from Goodwill, Savers, what is that smell?

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
Goodwill or Savers, it's the same smell. I don't like it and it takes a while to wear off. It's still there after I wash and dry a few times. At first I thought it was detergent smell from the donator, but it's always the same smell.

I love buying second hand, great clothes at a fraction the price. But I hate the smell. I am now imagining some toxic treatment they use to "clean" the clothes and it's freaking me out!

I bought a sheet for my son's bed once and had to line dry it for a week to get rid of the smell. Cold weather is on the way and that's going to be harder to do.

What is that smell? And how do I get rid of it quicker? Any ideas?
post #2 of 51
Ya, same here. I wonder if they spray everything with Lysol? I use oxy clean w/ my free and clear detergent. the smell usually comes out after a few washes. Although, clothes with perfume or smoke never seem to not smell.
post #3 of 51
That musty smell? Or are you talking about a different smell?
I buy from second hand/thrift stores quite a bit. I think all clothes get that musty smell after awhile. Its just washing that gets rid of it with your regular clothes. I have clothes hanging in a downstairs closet thats starting to smell like that
post #4 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by neverdoingitagain View Post
That musty smell? Or are you talking about a different smell?
I buy from second hand/thrift stores quite a bit. I think all clothes get that musty smell after awhile. Its just washing that gets rid of it with your regular clothes. I have clothes hanging in a downstairs closet thats starting to smell like that
I notice the same dreadful musty smell whenever I unbox dd1's outgrown clothes to sift through for dd2.
post #5 of 51
tto and baking soda (sometimes vinigar) in wash, in rince tto with vinigar and tto on a cloth in the dryer. i dont wash on hot and if they were really smelly when drying i smell them before they are dry. i find that the heat makes the smell worse and harder to come out to see seems to work 99% of the time. i need to figure out how to get the smell of (b.o., musty, smoke, weed, drugs, smell out of downfilled jackets)
post #6 of 51
I usually hang them outside for a few days, plus spray with vinegar if it's really bad.
I don't think they do anything to the stuff though...every thrift store I've ever been to has that smell. Sorta like attics all smell alike; it's just a combination of other people's smells all jumbled into the 'goodwill funk'.:
post #7 of 51
I run a x large wash and put in a scoop of borax and some of my regular detergent. leave the lid open and let everything sit overnight and run in the morning.
post #8 of 51
I really want to know what it is, too. I KNOW it's not just "old", "musty", or "attic" smell. I have lots of experience with those smells, and I don't use many chemicals (especially not fragranced chemicals) in my home so whenever I smell something from Goodwill or Value Village I can tell it's chemically. KWIM? Those clothes never smell like various detergents, air fresheners, or even like they've been stored. They all smell like the same chemical.
post #9 of 51
Mothball stuff?
post #10 of 51
my DP seriously thought they washed the clothes before they sold them! I found this out because one time he bought some stuff then proceeded to wear it without washing it first. ewwww!
post #11 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by littlemizflava View Post
tto and baking soda (sometimes vinigar) in wash, in rince tto with vinigar and tto on a cloth in the dryer. i dont wash on hot and if they were really smelly when drying i smell them before they are dry. i find that the heat makes the smell worse and harder to come out to see seems to work 99% of the time. i need to figure out how to get the smell of (b.o., musty, smoke, weed, drugs, smell out of downfilled jackets)
this is what i would suggest as well-baking soda works wonders on our dumpster dive treasures!!
post #12 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fujiko View Post
I really want to know what it is, too. I KNOW it's not just "old", "musty", or "attic" smell. I have lots of experience with those smells, and I don't use many chemicals (especially not fragranced chemicals) in my home so whenever I smell something from Goodwill or Value Village I can tell it's chemically. KWIM? Those clothes never smell like various detergents, air fresheners, or even like they've been stored. They all smell like the same chemical.
I agree. It's always that exact same smell, kinda salty smelling? Very strange. I wanna know what it is, too.
post #13 of 51
Now I'm curious too! I'm pretty sensitive to chemical smells and the Value Village smell doesn't affect me. In fact, I kinda like it. Maybe because I associate the smell with a good deal?
I do make sure to wash all clothes before wearing. I have always been able to get the smell out with just one wash though.
post #14 of 51
I always thought it was the mixture of all the clothes from all those different houses mixing together. I wash w/Arm and Hammer detergent and do a vinegar rinse and it gets rid of the smell 98% of the time. Only a VERY old garment (or smoke, or sometimes synthetic fabrics are hard to clean) will hold onto the smell for more than 2 washes. I buy lots of vintage fabrics and am kinda used to it. I try to avoid buying synthetic fabrics for that reason. Plus I smell things in the store before I buy them. If they are really rank then I don't buy it.
post #15 of 51
yeah its lysol or some other spray disinfectant

I consulted with a company that helped people with disabilities find work and one of the places they worked was thrift stores, so through following clients around doing assessments, I got to go in the back of the store and watch them take clothes from big dumpster sized boxes, spray them with lysol or disinfectant A LOT OF IT up and down and then hang them up to go out.
post #16 of 51
Yeah; I asked about it once. It's too expensive to wash it all, but if they didn't deodorize it somehow, the whole store would smell like BO all the time, so that's not good.

I'm a huge thrift store shopper, too, and I've tried everything. I've never found anything I can put in the wash and get the smell out in one cycle. What I've found that works is to first soak overnight in the washer with borax and detergent, then wash and rinse. Then I wash again, in the hottest water safe for the fabric, this time with ammonia. The reason for this is, I've found that so much of what I buy secondhand has loads and heaps of fabric softener in it, which is very sticky. Since it's so sticky and embedded deep in the fibers, it's hard to wash out plus it retains that odor. Ammonia is the only thing that can really eat away all that yucky waxy stuff, especially in heavier things like blankets and jackets. I know it's not the most natural thing you can do, but honestly it's the only thing I've found that really works. I'd rather use something harsh in the machine that I know will completely rinse away (ammonia will not linger in the fibers after rinsing any more than vinegar does) than put something harsh on our bodies!

If all that fails and it still comes out of the dryer stinky, I hang it all outside in the sun for awhile (heat doesn't matter so much as sun, which is the best deodorizer). Then I wash and dry again, which is not necessary for most people but DH and youngest DS have severe allergies so I do it.

Lots of work, yes, but since I save around $1000 per year by buying used, it's worth it.
post #17 of 51
Oh, and on a side note, can you imagine how icky it all is for the people whose job it is to spray that stuff all day long? I don't think I could stand it! If I have to spray things, even natural, non-toxic cleaners, I do it outside whenever possible, or open all the windows because I can't stand those smells. Yuck! I hope they at least provide masks in most stores to filter out the worst of it.
post #18 of 51
I would assume they don't wash it, and I have started washing anything that comes from the thrift store as soon as I get it home, and it stays in the plastic bag until then...with the return of bedbugs, it just seems like a good idea. I also no longer buy stuff that cannot be washed from a thrift (or if I did, it'd sit in the garage or something for quite awhile first....found some shoe bargains I couldn't resist recently, but they were like new).

the funk smell does seem to vary from store to store - St Vincents used to smell really bad, and they have gotten better in the years since then.
post #19 of 51
It's gotten much harder to remove over the last several years. I no longer buy used clothing because of how tenacious synthetic fragrances are getting. I think the goodwill smell is a combination of detergent fragrance, fabric softener, febreze, and possibly lysol or another disinfectant spray.

Anyhow, it's not worth it to me to buy used clothes, not if I have to wash them a zillion times and hang them up in the sun and rain for six months. May as well just wear rags, in that case.
post #20 of 51
This is icky. I had no idea they didn't wash anything, much less that they sprayed it all down with lysol type crap.

I also am thinking twice about buying used clothing from anywhere b/c I cannot tolerate strong smelling perfume-y detergents or clothing saturated in fabric softener. I just bought DS some jeans from another board and washed them over and over again - and they still reek. I am super sensitive to chemicals, though, so I should just stick to new and save myself the trouble. I wish the whole world was synthetic fragrance-free

No wonder thrift stores always smell funky (this is always DH's excuse to never go to one).
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