How to get the smell of perfume the hell out of a leather purse?
December 5, 2014 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Bought a vintage purse from etsy, and now the perfume-y, musty stank monster has taken over my apartment…help?

I decided to gift myself a nice 1970's vintage coach purse, and when the package arrived, I could already smell the weird funky miasma of really acrid perfume from outside the box. It's clear the previous owner has been either spraying the thing for decades or just gave it a serious perfume bath before shipping it off to me, possibly to hide a kinda musty old leather smell. I doused it with enough rubbing alcohol to burn the building down, but now my bathroom just smells like a distillery in a whorehouse in hell.
The bag is outside right now, but I live in Seattle…it's certain to rain before too long. WHAT DO I DO? It stinks pretty much everywhere. I don't live in a very large apartment, so if it's indoors both me and my boyfriend can smell it from as far away as we can get in a 700sf space.

I have cedar blocks, essential oils of sage and other clean-smelling things, and a complete leather care kit that I generally use for boots. Short term and long term solutions please. Also, I don't mind if the musty smell sticks around longer than the perfumey smell of doom, that's more easily resolved/ignorable.
posted by zinful to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Baking soda and vinegar are my go to fabric cleaners, but with leather, I'm not sure of the best way to apply them.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:57 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm wondering about odor eliminators, but I have no idea how they'd work with leather. Maybe ask a car detailing place or call coach?
posted by cestmoi15 at 6:01 PM on December 5, 2014

Could you buy a giant box of baking soda and fill the purse up with it? Perhaps leave it outside, but in a plastic, bag/waterproof container. You might have to change out the baking soda a few times, but it should absorb the smell after awhile. Baking soda is VERY cheap!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:23 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would pour copious amounts of baking soda in it, wrap in lots of newspaper and put in a box for a good long while. You might also check with a dry cleaner who deals with leather goods and ask what magical processes they have to help.
posted by cecic at 6:25 PM on December 5, 2014

Best answer: My experience with baked in scents has not been good, but here's another cheap approach: get the box it shipped in, take it to a garden center, and fill the box with cocoa-hull mulch. It's very absorbent; it doesn't disintegrate into little pieces; and it smells like heavenly chocolate.

As far as experts on stinky + leather, I'd contact a stablehand.
posted by Jesse the K at 6:26 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My seconhand vintage coach purse smelled like smoke when I got it. It now is 99% stink free, so I bet a similar process will work:

Wash the purse in warm water with a mild soap - get it all the way wet. It can handle this - coach's old leather purses are great quality. Then, I left it out in the sun for a few days, which might be difficult where you are now. Finally, I left it in front of a large fan in front of an open window during the day, and stuffed it with newspapers at night. It took a few weeks, but it did wonders. Good luck.
posted by umwhat at 6:32 PM on December 5, 2014

This happened to me with a leather purse! I put baking soda in it, wrapped it VERY WELL in newspaper, and put it in the freezer for like a week. It didn't get rid of the smell entirely, but it got rid of it enough that I could live with having it sitting out on the window sill in the sun for a week or so.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 6:37 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wash it with fieblings saddle soap and warm water and a sponge. Worl up a good suds and then rinse with a clean sponge. Pack it with newspaper and let it dry. Condition. /former stablehand.
posted by fshgrl at 6:53 PM on December 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

I would spray the inside thoroughly in febreeze and wipe the outside down with a febreeze-doused paper towel, also.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:25 PM on December 5, 2014

I had a pair of shoes for a while that I had to hang out a window at night. Fortunately, I lived on the second floor, so I didn't have to worry about someone taking them.
posted by Bruce H. at 2:12 AM on December 6, 2014

Best answer: I scored a bunch of purses at an estate sale recently and un-stinkified them by sealing them in large ziplock bags with a handful activated charcoal (the kind used in fish tank filters). That seems less messy than baking soda in my view.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:53 AM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I use old grinds that have dried, but it doesn't matter if they are fresh or used. Seal a saucer of coffee grounds in a plastic box with the purse. Change grounds every 4-5 days until the smell is gone.

Baking soda doesn't really do much for odors, BTW.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:31 PM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm going to do ALL THE THINGS until the stink leaves. Sad I can't use it right away, but I guess I'll be a grown up...thank you all!
posted by zinful at 8:02 PM on December 6, 2014

I've seen crumpled up newspapers work wonders in an freezer in which deer meat had spoiled - yes, it was even worse than your imagination.

My neighbor crumpled up tons of newspaper and stuffed the freezer with it - not tightly, but everywhere. Every couple of days he pulled out the paper and put in new. This was, obviously, after the freezer had been cleaned with soap and water and baking soda, but the newspaper completely removed the odor after a few weeks - it was amazing.

I'd probably bury it in baking soda and put it in a box full of crumpled newspaper and change the paper every few days. I'm sure that will work.

Don't you wonder about the woman who carried that bag and wore that powerful a perfume, though?
posted by aryma at 11:14 PM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

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