Fixing the stinky hat: how to remove perfume & hairspray odors
September 23, 2013 5:41 PM   Subscribe

It's an old winter white wool felt portrait hat. It stinks: hairspray and perfume. Odorzout and Smells Begone have been enthusiastically recommended here, but I'm concerned that spraying liquids on a felt hat will deform its lovely shape. Any suggestions for dry fragrance fighting? My only thought was filling the hatbox with cedar chips, but then it will smell like cedar chips, which is only marginally OK for this asthmatic and will probably make other sensitives gag. I've digested the copious hat-, felt-, and destinking-related advice here on MeFi.
posted by Jesse the K to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Baking soda!
posted by elizardbits at 5:42 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Activated charcoal? I doubt you'd even have to put it directly on the hat.
posted by Diagonalize at 6:02 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you tried getting it dry cleaned? Or try putting it in a plastic bag with a bunch of baking soda. Seal it tight. Wait a few days.
posted by mareli at 6:05 PM on September 23, 2013

Best answer: The reason liquids are an issue with felt hats is because you don't want to deform the shape when the fabric is malleable.

I think you should account for that fragility and give the hat a few sprays with a bottle of water, then dab it dry. Try it in one spot with a paper towel. If the paper towel takes on a nasty color of filth, then you can't get the smell out with just a dry baking soda treatment. If the paper towel does take on a nasty color of filth, then keep doing the spray and dab treatment until the paper towels start looking wet and boring again. After everything is dry, do the baking soda thing.

I bought the most awesome wool felt trilby a few years ago from a consignment shop in Portland, OR, and I wondered why my hair kept getting so greasy when I was wearing the hat, even in the cool of the rainy mist. The spray and dab treatment answered my question all too well. Actually, it was kind of gross.

Good luck.

Dry cleaning is also a good option, if there's someone you trust to do it.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:12 PM on September 23, 2013

Back in the 80's I used "Stinky Pinkies" in shoes to absorb odors. I googled "Stinky Pinkies" to find you a link - couldn't find the product but I did come up with this Q&A on Askville about similar dessicants which you might try.

You also might try stuffing the hat with crumpled newsprint (not actual newspaper, which will stain) and see if that soaks up the odors.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:22 PM on September 23, 2013

What about letting it "air out" in the sunshine and see if that helps? If not, maybe hold the hat at an arm's length and spraying scent-free fabric refresher on it?
posted by sleepykitties at 7:23 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lightly spritz with vodka which should dry quickly (definitely do a test spot first).
posted by dawkins_7 at 7:43 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

I agree with elizardbits that baking soda is a great deodorizer. Cheap and safe, too.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 7:49 PM on September 23, 2013

Try putting some unused Bounce or any alternative dryer sheets inside the hat and leave it where fresh air can get at it. If those dryer sheets can cure stinky sneakers, it can make your hat as fresh as a daisy. Or whatever flavor odor dryer sheets you pick. There is Febreze also but I find the dryer sheets do an amazing job on smelly stuff.
posted by smudgedlens at 9:14 PM on September 23, 2013

Ozone Generator in an enclosed space.
posted by mmdei at 11:41 PM on September 23, 2013

Many destinking methods also add their own "freshness smell" to cover things up (Febreeze, shoe powders, dryer sheets, etc) So if it smells like perfume and grooming products, adding other "now it smells good!" smells to it won't get you very far. Damp-wipe it, then let it air out, upside-down in the sunshine.
posted by aimedwander at 6:48 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Air and sun would probably do it- most of the odor of perfume and hairspray should volatilize. If that doesn't work, a haberdasher can steam clean it.

If you don't have easy access to either, coffee grounds are great for getting rid of odors. We had a smell like spilt pickles in the pantry of the house we just bought, and two weeks after leaving a dish of coffee grounds on the shlf the smell is gone. You could put dry grounds in a small canning jar with some holes punched in the lid, and keep them in a Rubbermaid box with the hat. The coffee smell dissipates easily in my experience.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:58 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all your helpful suggestions! I'm confident that one or two of them will result in happy hat, happy head. Will report back.
posted by Jesse the K at 9:31 AM on September 25, 2013

Crumpled up newspaper might help.
posted by maggieb at 9:28 PM on October 21, 2013

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