Introduction: Nontoxic DIY Dry Cleaning: De-Stink Musty Fabric With Baking Soda

The problem: This ancient uniform cap got musty/cheesy from sitting in a dark closet for years.
The complication: I think it's made of wool and maybe cardboard so washing might wreck it.
The solution: Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) It's really amazing stuff. Keep some of it handy in case you spill sulfuric acid all over yourself.

Attention MICROBIOLOGISTS: Does NaHCO3 kill mold or yeast or anything else? Does this have anything to do with changes in pH or being a buffer?

Also there are other ways of doing this. Some suggest spraying on clear alcohol like vodka and gin. Apple cider vinegar would probably work nicely too, it has anti-fungal properties and works on athlete's foot.

Please feel free to share your own methods in the comments below.

Step 1: Do It and Bag It

Sprinkle lots of baking soda on all the garment's surfaces especially the seams and little hidden corners.

Put your garment in a bag to reduce spilled/lost baking soda. This way you can get all wild with your application without making a mess.

Rub it in good so the powder goes deep into the weave.

Step 2: Seal It Up

Push most of the air out of the bag and tie it shut. Now give it a little shake to settle the powder in more.

Step 3: Wait

I left it for a couple of weeks. Maybe this was overkill but I reckon the baking soda needed some time to work its gentle magic. 

In the mean time here are things the internetz cough up when one googles "wait".

Step 4: Open and Dust Off

To get the powder off:
Shake it 
tap it
vacuum it
lightly wipe it with a damp cloth
let dry
damp cloth again 

As an experiment I left a little bit of baking soda in the hidden crevices as a prophylactic. Hopefully this won't harm the fabric over time.

Step 5: The Stink Is Gone

What's that smell? What smell?

Actually this hat now smells like it did before it was musty. Success! 

Step 6: Rock It!

You're good to go.

Put it on and go paint the town brown.

Comments

author
LancasterPA (author)2015-07-09

I tried this with a cat tree I got from a smokers house. It stunk. I put 2 boxes of baking soda all over it. I let it sit 24 hours then used a compressor and blew the powder off. It was a real job getting that powder off but the final product was amazing. No smoke smell and no cat smells. Baking Soda is amazing stuff.

author
snotty (author)LancasterPA2015-07-09

Glad it helped! Two boxes seems like a lot... but I guess my ible does say to use a lot :P

author
laughingjungle (author)2015-01-20

This is a great read. Very entertaining.

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Bio: Careers: documentary filmmaker, DOP, engineering student, practical environmentalist, idealist. Loves: bicycles and when weeds grow in the city. I'm from western Canada, Yukon, Japan ... More »
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