How to make my vintage sweater to smell fresh?
October 30, 2010 2:30 PM   Subscribe

How do I get the musty smell out of a vintage cashmere sweater (that has a real fox fur collar?)

I bought the sweater online and the seller said that it has been recently dry-cleaned. It's in wonderful shape and doesn't smell bad, but definitely smells a bit musty. My husband said that it "smells like a vintage store." Should I get it dry-cleaned again? Hang it outside? Spray it with something?
posted by traceymariel to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sunlight is usually the best killer of smells.
posted by pised at 2:59 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd hang it outdoors on a breezy day.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:31 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

If the fur collar can be removed, remove it, then wash the sweater in cold water (in the sink) with a little shampoo (enough for your hair). rinse it cold water with a little hair conditioner. Squeeze most of the water out, then lay it flat on a towel and roll it up. When it is just a bit damp, lay it flat on a dry towel, and let it dry. Do not rub, wring, or mangle the wet sweater, treat it gently.

As for the collar, you can bring it to a dry cleaner that specializes in fur. Or you can sprinkle it with cornstarch and very, very gently brush it out. Or you can try a spray on dry shampoo (for people). But if you really want to make sure you do not ruin it, take it to a cleaner that specializes in fur. If it were my collar, I would try to clean it at home. But I am kind of like that, I take risks with clothing. I wash most of my "dry clean only" clothing in the washing machine on gentle. And I have ruined a few items along the way.

If the collar is not removable, you can still try to clean the collar. But if the sweater itself needs cleaning, bring it to a dry cleaner (that specializes in fur).
posted by wandering_not_lost at 3:33 PM on October 30, 2010

While we were overseas for a couple years, my husband stored some very nice ties in an old trunk of his. When we came back, they were all musty. He hung them outside in the sun for days, then for months on our screened porch. The musty smell did not go away until he washed them.
posted by Elsie at 4:33 PM on October 30, 2010

I would lightly spray it with Fabreze.
posted by Old Geezer at 4:39 PM on October 30, 2010

Ion generator? You can get small items cleaned with ion generators for not much money.
posted by custard heart at 6:42 PM on October 30, 2010

You're going to have to clean it again at some point in the future. If it's dry clean-only (as I suspect it is) I would probably take it in to be dry cleaned.

And I'd be skeptical of the seller's claims that it had been cleaned "recently."
posted by ErikaB at 7:34 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have heard that spraying clothing with a vodka/water mixture can help with this. To the best of my knowledge, this is an old theater trick.
posted by bibliogrrl at 7:54 PM on October 30, 2010

I would just spring for it to be dry cleaned again, with a dry cleaner who specializes in real fur. I had a very similar situation with an old, yet 'clean' pea coat I bought at a garage sale, and instead of trying to let it rest in the sun, etc. I just hightailed it to the drycleaners the next business day.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:56 PM on October 30, 2010

Do NOT use Febreeze. Masks odors only and frankly smells like crap. You don't want it anywhere near cashmere. Hand wash (the wool) and spritz (the fur) with 10:1 solution of lavender oil and water. Actually kills must, mold and mildew AND prevents it from returning.
posted by Muirwylde at 11:02 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

After you've killed the must with lavender oil, I recommend Wool-lite detergent (its specifically for hand washing delicates) cold wash - lay flat to dry. The wrinkles will fall out from your body warmth.
posted by Muirwylde at 11:08 PM on October 31, 2010

Knitters often use lavender shampoo & conditioner to hand wash. Here's a handy video:
posted by MichelleinMD at 7:14 AM on November 1, 2010
posted by MichelleinMD at 7:15 AM on November 1, 2010

Thanks for the great advice, everyone. I ended up just taking it to an organic dry cleaner and it smelled great!
posted by traceymariel at 2:29 PM on November 30, 2010

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