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Need tips on removing mothball smell

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Anyone else have family members who are addicted to mothballs?

 

My dad gave us some nice furniture and many beautiful hand knit wool sweaters (the wool came from his own sheep) but everything absolutely reaks of mothballs.  He must have boxes of mothballs in every drawer, closet and trashcan.  The smell is overwhelming.

 

My first thought was to put everything out in the sun, when the sun decides to shine again, but I don't know that sunshine alone will rid me of the smell.

 

Any thoughts?  I am scared to machine wash the sweaters as I have had bad luck in the past with weird wool shrinkage.

post #2 of 7

I like to use kookaburra woolwash - I've found it helps get rid of the mothball smell of various items and it makes it pretty simple to handwash woolens (it doesn't need to be completely rinsed out of your all-wool items - it'll lanolize them and soften them over time, actually).

post #3 of 7

never machine wash handknit items unless you are sure they are made from superwash wool (which, if they are from his sheep, they will not be). I like eucalan. fill you bathtub half full with warm (not hot) water and put a good drizzle of eucalan in. gently place your items in and press down. let them soak for 12 hrs. empty the tub, gently pressing the excess out of the knits. roll them up in towels and stand on them to sop out as much moisture as you can. do not wring. lay flat to dry and shape gently.

 

This usually works for me (we also have mothball lover families)

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by redvlagrl View Post

 

This usually works for me (we also have mothball lover families)

 

So it isn't just my family :)  DH came from a non-mothball family and he cannot stand the smell.

 

Thanks for both suggestions!

 

post #5 of 7

Napthalene isn't water soluble.  The gas from the balls sublimates, then solidifies back onto the textiles.  You need sunlight and a breeze.  The sunlight helps it sublimate again, the breeze carries it away.

 

post #6 of 7

My experience with the mothball smell, which my great aunt uses and loves to give me stuff is this:  if it's a natural fabric (cotton, wool) it can mostly likely come clean with some variety of washing, handwashing, machine washing, and drying in the sun.

 

If it's a synthetic fabric, forget it.  It will never come out.  I've tried till I had migraines from the smell, trying to save adorable handmade 60s vintage dresses, made with polyester. Smell would never come out. Ever.

 

I'm not sure about the furniture, it it's upholstered you may be out of luck.  I even left an ancient trunk, propped open upstairs in our open air barn for 2 YEARS!!!!!! It still reeked when I took it down. 

post #7 of 7

We bought a cabin last summer and the owner used mothballs everywhere.  It was a horrible mix of big dog smell and mothballs.  We have used essential oils, which help mask the smell a bit.  This winter, we put in a wood burning stove.  Now the cabin smells like burnt wood, which is at least better than the mothballs.  

 

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