March 06, 2012

Q & A: Removing Musty Odors From Old Wool

Q: I used to be a designer several decades ago and over the years have collected some wonderful but valuable pieces of yardage. Many pieces are wool that have been stored in plastic bins with other yardage and they all have a musty smell. Will simply having the yardage dry cleaned make these pieces acceptable or is there another trick to restoring the freshness to these pieces? None of these pieces appear to be damaged, just smell old and musty.

I hope you have a good solution for my problem...

A: Dry cleaning would help these items, but if they are pressed or steamed while at the cleaner's, the heat can set the musty odor and make it permanent. You might want to try airing them first, and for several days if possible. The more they can air out unfolded, in shade to avoid fading, the better they'll smell. The ozone present in the air after rainfall is a natural odor eliminator if you can arrange airing then.

You could also try setting them in a closed box with charcoal or baking soda adjacent, as these products will eliminate odors. I'd try these methods before dry cleaning, so that you can minimize what odor remains before the dry cleaner works on them.

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