The Problem

A common problem people face who shop at thrift stores and something that prevents people from purchasing thrift store items is odour. That mothball smell that reminds us of our grandmother’s attics is not attractive and makes or breaks a purchase especially if the items are not washable. Enter my green leather jacket, and lace cardigan. This jacket is amazing but smelly and after letting it “air out” for a few days it remained smelly. This lace cardigan has been washed but still smells like an attic. I love these two garments so to save them and to help you shop thrift(!) I went looking for a (cheap) home solution.



The Test

Miss Rochelle shared this conflict of smelly vintage items on twitter and I quickly found myself in a discussion with her about possible solutions. We came to the conclusion that orange peels and baking soda may work. Yes, orange peels. This fruit is very “right now” ¬†within cleaning products so I was willing to give it a go. Baking soda is the traditional¬†deodorizer¬†so I was hoping it would work with clothing as well.


The Process

  • I bought large oranges and a box of generic baking soda (454g) saving $.40 (I’m quite thrifty).
  • I chopped up two oranges (yum) and placed the peels in the bottom of a garbage bag. With the garment on a hanger I place the bag around the item and tied it at the top so it’s a bag on a hanger.
  • I did the same with the baking soda but poured some freely into the bag and left the box open.
  • I put the orange peel bag around the lace cardigan and the baking soda around the leather jacket

24 hours later

I opened up the lace cardigan bag and the orange peels mixed with the smell that the lace cardigan already had! Bah! Please imagine this deadly combo of mothballs AND orange. Not good!

The leather jacket was more of a success. I opened the bag and noticed the bottom half of the garment had lost most of its odour but the shoulders and collar remained smelly.

Next Step

I’m going to give them one more day! I replaced the orange peels with baking soda and tied the bags tighter at the top to close in the deodorizer.

I’ll post the results tomorrow! Keep your fingers crossed!

Do you have tried and tested solutions? Share with us and post them below!

Check out Part Two: Results and links to other solutions!

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Categories: Blog, featured

  1. Char says:

    YEAH GIRL!!! My grey leather ‘michael jackson thriller’ jacket smells terrible! i’m going to baking soda it up!

  2. Becca says:

    I have a Tobi Steamer, it’s great for getting out smells… but thats not a very cheap solution.

    I slightly cheaper idea: a diluted vodka spray! check out number 1 here: I haven’t tried it myself, but it sounds promising…

  3. kaitlin says:

    @Char I hope it works for you! I think I need something more powerful to get the smell out

    @Becca that’s a great idea! I actually saw some steamers for around $70 at Canadian Tire. It’s a good investment for thrift addicts. And I half love the vodka idea! haha I dunno if I could give up vodka like that! Thanks for sharing!

    Thanks for your comments ladies!

  4. Carmen says:

    Thanks for sharing.

    Do you know if thrift stores clean their clothes before they sell them?

  5. kaitlin says:

    @Carmen, I don’t unfortunately. It takes a lot of time time and money for thrift stores to clean everything properly and the money is better spent on the charity organizations they’re affiliated with. One of my favourite thrift stores which is super clean and never messy is Double Take Thrift Store at Parliament and Gerrard. They have a large women’s section and it’s never too busy. Hope that helps!

  6. Anne says:

    Vinegar with hot water in the bath tub, hang clothes above across.

  7. stocks says:

    Keep up the good work, bookmarked and referred some mates.

  8. Katy Tanguma says:

    I miss MJ, he was just great. Up to now I still cannot believe we lost him

  9. Wow,I adore MJ! He was the most talented to ever sing! We will never have someone like MJ! RIP to the GREATEST!

  10. Christina Coburn says:

    I bought a job lot of stuff from a guy who buys stuff from storage lockers. Very excited, but as we drove home we nearly passed out from the smells. Two months later I am throwing it all out. I have tried vinegar treatment, baking soda, oxy clean,ammonia, sun drying. I thought some of it was
    better, but what happened was the smell came back.
    Found that the smell stayed in the mining and in the shoulder pads. Will never buy anythign with a musty moth ball smell again as the smell in the house was terrible and took days of using air purifiers to get rid of it. Plus, the toxicity of moth balls is too high to risk playing around with. Talked to several very helpful thrift shop owners and they all said to ditch the stuff.

  11. Chelsea Hoffman says:

    Coffee beans or coffee ground work lovely to get rid of smells. I have a vintage desk in my room that smelled just horrible, but a little cup of coffee grounds definitely cleared it up, so I only assume it will work for clothes too. =)

  12. Sk says:

    Was that Carmen chick serious…??!!

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