The Easiest Tips For Getting Stale Smells Out Of Your Vintage Pieces

There's something about vintage pieces that spell out class and timelessness. Whether it's an old piece of furniture, clothing, or artwork, their old charm and unique craftsmanship have made such thrifted finds quite popular among American households. However, while such pieces are nice to have, they usually need some TLC to bring them back to their former glory. If you've bought an old vintage piece before, then you're aware of the musty, funky smell that most of them come with. The source of the smell isn't universal either; it depends on the specific vintage piece. 

For clothing, The New York Times explains the vintage smell comes from a combination of body odor, sweat, oils, among other scents. However, for old pieces of furniture, the signature stale smell is often a result of bacteria that permeates wooden furniture over time. Before writing off vintage pieces completely because of their smell, though, you should know that it's possible to get rid of the smell completely. Take a look at the following tips that should help you easily remove the stale smell from your prized vintage or antique finds.

Leave it out in the sun

You'll be surprised just how effective this age-old trick is in eliminating almost every type of scent and odor from old clothes or even furniture. According to Chemistry Cachet, leaving your old clothes out to dry will help remove different kinds of smells, whether from mildew or even air fresheners. All you need to do is leave them out in direct sunlight for a minimum of six hours. If the smell isn't gone, give it a few more hours in the sun.

Furniture can also benefit from time spent drying out in the sunshine. Since furniture is porous, pieces over time will absorb moisture and other smells from the environment, causing that stale, funky "vintage" smell.

Along with drying out moisture in vintage pieces, the sun's UV rays will also help to kill bacteria, especially when it comes to vintage wooden furniture. If you can't dry your vintage pieces out in the sun, try using a dehumidifier to remove the moisture from the air.

Give it a good old cleaning

Right after buying any vintage piece from your favorite antique store, the first order of business is to clean it. Whether it's a piece of clothing or furniture, cleaning goes a long way in removing that lingering stale odor, especially from clothes. To dry the piece, you'll want to air dry it and ensure you do so in a place with proper ventilation.

Note that it might take more than one wash to eliminate vintage smells, especially for particularly smelly pieces. When it comes to eliminating the smell from wooden furniture, regular cleaning won't cut it. Along with cleaning it (and drying it out in the sun), you might also need to use some vinegar to kill off remaining bacteria that might have permeated the porous material. You also have the option of using antifungal detergents to clean the drawers and to wipe down the furniture surface.

Try white vinegar

White vinegar is a lifesaver when it comes to house cleaning. This common ingredient has found many other uses in places other than your bowl of salad. It's an effective cleaning agent that can also help you eliminate musty odors from vintage pieces. It might be difficult to wrap your head around how this smelly substance can eliminate any odor, let alone the vintage smells of a thrifted find, but vinegar contains acetic acid — about 4% to 7%.

When using white vinegar to eliminate any odor from your vintage pieces, the trick is knowing where the smell is concentrated. If it's in the drawers of your furniture, dampen some newspapers with a white vinegar solution and allow it to soak up the odor overnight. If the odor is stronger, give the newspaper more time to deal with the smell. You can also wipe the surfaces of the furniture with the solution. White vinegar works particularly well not only for furniture but also vintage ceramic pieces.

Baking soda

In the same way baking soda helps in getting rid of terrible odor from the refrigerator, it can also come in handy in ridding your old antique pieces of a stale smell. As a chemical compound, baking soda is a base. It does its magic of eliminating smells by neutralizing particles.

According to the University of Wisconsin–Madison Extension, many bad smells result from either strong bases or acids. Baking soda works by neutralizing both basic and acidic elements, and thereby, eliminating the associated odors in the process.

When it comes to cleaning your vintage pieces using baking soda, there are two approaches you can take depending on the particular object. For clothes, sprinkle the baking soda in a plastic bag and throw in the piece of clothing. Allow the ingredient to eliminate the smell overnight. For pieces of furniture, like a dresser or storage chest, place a bowl of baking soda inside the furniture. If there are compartments, you'll need a bowl inside of each.

Get some help

Depending on the storage and conditions of the vintage piece, there's a chance the smell has developed over time and will be difficult to eliminate on your own. This is particularly true for old thick pieces of fabric that have been in dark damp places for a long time. In such scenarios, the home remedies above might not be enough, and you'll need more equipment to get rid of the smell entirely. In such scenarios, it's best to call in the pros. Professional odor removal services address the source of the bad smell and not just the odor itself.

It's worth mentioning that odor removal services don't come cheap; however, this will depend on factors like the scope of work involved and cleaning technique used, just to mention a few. The benefit of using professionals for the job, though, is that their services extend beyond simple cleaning and odor elimination; they also provide additional care and maintenance that will extend the life of your prized vintage pieces.