Getting Rid of That Thrift Store Smell

June 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Posted in auction, budget, CLEANING, coffee, flea market, Goodwill, NEAT STUFF, shopping, SUPPLIES, thrifting, thrifty, Uncategorized, Vintage | 7 Comments
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If you love thrifting like I do, chances are you will bring home something that has that awful musty smell. Sometimes it’s a book. Sometimes it’s a vintage suitcase. It could be a dresser or other piece of furniture. Mold, mildew, mustiness, cigarette smoke, moth balls, old lady perfume, or someone just used too much fragranced detergent. Whatever the unpleasant smell is, if you thrift, you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes that great item from a yard sale, eBay, Etsy, Goodwill, or inherited from your great aunt Sally, just smells BAD. And life is too short to live with bad smells. Ick.

I found some great tips for getting rid of that awfulness. Depending on how powerful the smell is and how saturated the item is, you may need to use more than one of these tips to totally rid it of the funk. I’ve tried a lot of these but a couple were new to me too!

  1. BAKING SODA — This is usually the first thing I try. There is always some in the house and it requires almost no effort. If the smell is in a book, you need to put the book into some sort of container with a lid first. A large cooking pot works. Vintage tins would work too. Leave the book inside the container with an open box of baking soda or put the soda into a small dixie cup next to the book. If the smell is in furniture, you’ll need more than one box baking soda. If it is a dresser, you can use individual open boxes in each drawer or pour a bit into a bowl or small open container and leave it inside the drawer for a few days. Depending on the power of the smell, you may need to leave it for weeks. (If you aren’t going to use the furniture for a while, you just set it up and forget about it for awhile.)
  2. DAMPRID — This product is great for sucking moisture out of the air in a closet or other swampy area of your house. It also works to get rid of smells that are moisture based like mold or mildew. You can usually find it at the dollar store, but if not, you can usually find it at larger grocery stores or Walmart. First clean off any mold or mildew from the surface of the object. Then use the Damprid just like you would use Baking Soda. It’s just a more powerful option which is great if you are impatient like me.
  3. SUNLIGHT — Leaving your laundry out on the line to dry makes it smell great – fresh and clean. This works for musty tablecloths or garments that the previous owner stored in mothballs. I also hate when I buy a piece of clothing and it was washed and dried with WAY TOO MUCH fabric softener. Since I’m allergic to fabric softener and lots of fragrances, this is especially annoying. If you don’t have a clothesline, put the fabric item on a hanger and hang it in the sunshine on a tree or porch railing. As long as air and sunlight can get to it for a large part of the day. Again, depending on the saturation, this could take anywhere from a few hours to multiple days.
  4. PINESOLOkay, personally I can’t stand the stuff. It burns my nose and sinuses and so you’ll never find the stuff anywhere near my house. (the product tagline is “The powerful scent of real clean.”) But some folks swear by the stuff. If you like the smell, more power to you. Folks say that you can water it down a bit and scrub the item with a brush to really get into the crevices. Be sure to let the item dry thoroughly though or you’ll have new smells due to excess moisture. Kinda defeats the purpose if your cleaning method makes things worse.)  So…..If you can stand the stuff, go for it!
  5. COFFEE GROUNDS (or beans) — Personally, I can’t see wasting perfectly good coffee this way but I suppose you could buy a really cheap brand of ground coffee just for this purpose. I would never drink pre-ground coffee. For shame! (yes, I’m a coffee snob) If you’ve ever shopped for perfume, you may have had the salesperson hand you a small cup of coffee beans to cleanse your palette between different fragrances. Same principle.
  6. DRYER SHEETS — Since this is another item I never use due to allergies, it’s not a method I use. Plus, a lot of times they really just cover up the underlying smell. Sort of like spraying “air freshener” after someone stinks up your bathroom. You still have toilet stink but the air freshener fragrance sort of adds to it. In my book this is just worse. Again, you might love dryer sheets and this is the perfect product for you. If so, rub the dryer sheet all over the surface of the item or put the dryer sheet into a closed container with the the item (or inside a drawer) just like the baking soda method.
  7.  SCENTED CANDLE — Basically this is just like the dryer sheet; it covers up the smell but doesn’t get rid of it entirely. You burn a scented candle in close proximity to the item.
  8. LAUNDERING — Don’t underestimate the power of your washing machine. Add Oxyclean (or equivalent) to the wash. It is great for dissolving oils, stains and scents. Just remember NOT to wash the item with your normal laundry. If it requires more than one cycle to rid it of the smell, it can add the horrible smell to the rest of your clothes. I learned this one the hard way. Also, make sure the machine isn’t totally loaded up. The smaller the load, the more effective the Oxyclean is. If running it through your machine isn’t working, you can also dissolve a bunch of the Oxyclean into a large bowl or plastic bucket and then add the item. Let it soak for a few hours or days, depending on how bad it is. Oxyclean is seriously my best friend. It rocks.
  9. HOT MILK – Some people say this works like baking soda to absorb bad smells. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to waste the milk. That stuff costs more than gasoline!
  10. VINEGAR — You can add vinegar to your regular wash and it will act like dryer sheets to make your stuff softer. But the vinegar smell doesn’t always wash out so this isn’t a method I usually use. Vinegar cleans all kinds of stuff. It gets rid of water scale in your coffee maker or funk in your dishwasher. But again, you have to rinse it SO MUCH to get rid of the vinegar smell. I used it to clean a coffee maker once and mistakenly made coffee thinking the vinegar smell was gone. SO GROSS. It seriously takes a lot of rinsing. Other folks say you can but heated up vinegar nearby the object to absorb the smell. I’m just not a big fan of vinegar smell so….yeah, it might work if you aren’t lazy like me. Okay, enough about vinegar.
  11. MURPHY’S OIL SOAP – This is great for cleaning musty furniture. And it smells a heck of a lot better than nasty ol’ Pinesol. Just spray it on or dunk the item in a bucket of the diluted soap (same mixture that you’d use to clean a hardwood floor). Then just give it a really good scrub.
  12. ENZYME PET SPRAY – The sprays that you use to get pet urine smells and stains out of fabrics or hard surfaces also works to rid the item of other smells. It can cost a bit (I get mine really cheap at Big Lots or a local salvage store) but you can’t beat it for speed or easiness.
  13. RANDOM OTHER STUFF — Other folks swear by this other stuff but since I’ve never tried them, I can’t attest to how well they work. If you try one of them and it works out, lemme know! TEA TREE OIL, CARPET FRESHENER, ACTIVATED CHARCOAL (or charcoal for barbecue grills), WADDED UP NEWSPAPER (changed daily), KITTY LITTER, PAINTING IT WITH HEAVY PRIMER, VANILLA EXTRACT, CEDAR CHIPS (the kind from the pet store for the bottom of cages is an inexpensive source), BORAX, BLEACH (using bleach scares me because I’ve ruined lots of stuff because I didn’t add the right ratio of water), TILEX, VODKA (seriously? $$$!), LEMONS, APPLES (sliced), POTATOS, and BARS OF SOAP.

If one method isn’t working or you don’t have the patience to let that method work it’s magic, try another. I’ve been told that TIME rids all things of smell but I’ve never found this to be true. The quicker you tackle the smell, the less chances you have of it migrating to other stuff.

HAPPY THRIFING!!

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Food Poisoning vs. Botulism

June 22, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Posted in CLEANING, COOKING, Food and Drink, health, sick | 3 Comments
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While doing a search for food safety, I found a very interesting bit of information. Check this out….

Did you know that THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “FOOD POISONING” and BOTULISM?

Food Poisoning — This occurs when you ingest food or water that contains bacteria, parasites, viruses, or toxins made by these germs. Most cases of food poisoning are from common bacteria such as Staphylococcus, Salmonella, or E. coli. (It can affect just one person or a group of people who all ate the same contaminated food.) Symptoms from the most common types of food poisoning usually start within 2 – 6 hours of ingesting. Symptoms can include stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and serious dehydration.

Botulism — This is is an extremely dangerous form of food poisoning that is the result of ingesting food contaminated with C. botulinun, which is a nerve toxin (scared yet?). How can you tell if you’ve contracted botulism instead of ordinary food poisoning? Botulism causes an impairment of the muscular system. As a result, many people affected with botulism will have trouble speaking clearly, their breathing will become difficult and they may complain of having double vision or other visual problems.(GET TO THE ER!)

While eating meat is quite a bit more likely to cause food poisoning than eating vegetables, the actual muscle of an animal that is consumed is actually very safe as long as it doesn’t have the skin. That is the reason that you can feel safe eating rare steak, but would never eat rare chicken. It is the skin that is the breeding ground for most bacteria. Cutting through the skin during preparation spreads the dangerous bacteria.  The skin actually acts to protect meat from the bacteria that is crawling all over it, but once the meat is sliced, the bacteria races in to invade. (Which is why hand washing is so important. Beware that studies show that long fingernails carry and transmit lots of extra bacteria too, ladies.) After using a chopping board to cut meat, DO NOT use it again until it has been thoroughly cleaned.  NEVER, EVER allow your raw meat to touch  any other food, for that matter. (Beware of hand towels during prep too. Once you’ve used that towel during meat prep, throw it in the wash with some bleach to avoid cross-contamination.)

sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002618/

http://voices.yahoo.com/how-tell-if-dented-safe-use-2150192.html?cat=25

http://www.mnpoison.org/index.asp?pageID=49

Less 365

July 27, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Posted in CLEANING, family, recycle | Leave a comment
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Could I do it?

I ran across a blog where a man is dedicated to discarding something everyday.

http://www.ydnar.com/2010/07/less-365.html

Actually, what he said was, “Starting July 1, and every day for a year, I will get rid of something. I will donate, discard, re-gift or recycle some bit of debris accumulating in my house. Anything non-perishable considered, exempting books and music.”

In MY house books should definitely be part of the discard. Hundreds of books overflowing bookcases at every turn. Piles of books I intend to read stacked under my bed, in boxes and drawers, occupying every available space in the house! Hoarding runs in my family and all my life I’ve been in love with thrifting and treasure hunting at the local Goodwill store. So I’m sure I cannot avoid those tendencies entirely. I willingly purge every now and again. I even have really organized friends help me purge cupboards and tiny areas of the house. But it seems like every room of the house seems to still have areas that attract clutter like a giant nuclear powered magnet!

I would love to list my treasures and favorite vintage pieces that I’ve found. But then hubby would see it and demand that I return it. Sooo….that is not an option.

But then again, I keep saying that I’m going to start listing some of my extra treasures on my favorite shopping sites, eBay and etsy. For instance, I found a realllly vintage Pinocchio Head Disney Bank. It even has the stopper. I’m not in love with it. I actually bought it with the intention of selling it. I don’t lack for motivation (I need the cash!). But getting started seems like an overwhelming task. Does anyone have any motivation tips that keep things from getting overwhelming?

Dented Cans Anyone?

September 6, 2009 at 8:32 pm | Posted in CLEANING | Leave a comment
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So I am cleaning out my pantry tonight.

I’ve got these spiffy black and white woven nylon baskets that I intend to organize the cans and boxes and various packages into. I’ve had a really hard time cooking or even getting up the INTEREST to cook anything lately. (Which is a little bit due to the sleep deprivation that I’m suffering from after getting up to see my oldest off to the bus each morning this week.) So I figured it would help to know what was actually IN my pantry. Maybe if I could find something I could bring myself to cook something that isn’t already pre-prepared, frozen, and requires no actual preparation. Laaaaaazy…. So anyway, that is what prompted my little project….

So as I am checking the dates on the cans, I started tossing out cans that were a little dented. My friend that helped me clean out my pantry last time (yes she is THAT awesome) told me that any and all dented cans are dangerous and would KILL ME. Dead, dead, dead.

But—-after a trash can FULL of expired cans and dented cans, I started being really annoyed because the girls stand on them (the cans) to see and reach what is stored on the higher shelves. Then they (the cans, not the girls- uh, usually anyway) get knocked over and dented. Food is expensive. I can’t seem to stay within my weekly budget and here they are denting up all the canned food! Arrrgghhhh….

It didn’t seem fair to be throwing out each and every can that they had knocked down from a shelf or kicked over accidentally. So I did a little research and here is what I found:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1175422/how_to_tell_if_a_dented_can_is_safe.html

Here’s the highlights:

“The number one way to tell if a can is potentially dangerous is to push on the top and bottom of the can. If the top or bottom of the can moves in any way or makes a popping sound, the can’s seal has been broken and air has made its way inside. Popped cans should be discarded or returned to the store where they were purchased for replacement. On the other hand, if the can does not make a noise or move, it is most likely safe to eat despite any dents.

Another way to tell if a can is safe to eat is by simply looking at the can. If the can is bulging and bloated it is most likely unsafe. Cans will bulge and bloat when bacteria begins to produce gasses which push the can outward. You can also tell by looking at the dented can if it rusting. Rust can weaken the integrity of the can and allow air and bacteria to enter it.

Sometimes cans can be fine when they originally get dented, but after a period of time begin to display some of the above changes. So when buying dented cans try to avoid buying cans that are dented on the top or bottom of the cans. These are where the main seams of the can are located and where the can is it’s weakest. Alternatively, if the can is dented along the side it is most likely safe to eat the food within.

The final way you can tell if a dented can is safe to eat is when you open it. Once you puncture the can with your can opener it should not spray or explode. If it does spray or explode do not eat the food within it may be contaminated. Safe dented cans will open the same as non dented cans.”

And if that isn’t enough, here is another site that provides similar info:

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20061111191500AAUasXP

“When a can is dented near a seam or a junction, it makes it possible for air to enter the can. A sharp dent can cause a pinhole in the can, which could also allow air to enter. This air, combined with the moisture in the can, allows the growth of microorganisms. These microorganisms cannot be killed by cooking. Consumption of this food could potentially result in botulism. Cans that are bulging or have rust that will not wipe off are also deemed unsafe.
Feel the can and visually inspect it. SAFE cans have smooth dents, dents that are not on the seams, dents that do not compromise can junctures.
DISCARD cans with dents on seams, dents where side and end meet, sharp dents, swelling or bulging, rust that does not wipe off If in doubt, throw it out.”

And did you know that they publish a poster for the employees of grocery stores to know which cans are dangerous and should be discarded? Here is info on ordering one for your very own self:

The “Classification of Visible Can Defects Poster” is a great way to help personnel learn how to quickly identify defects and the degree of acceptable damage in regards to dented cans. This 24″ x 36″ poster consists of colorful pictures and easy to follow descriptions that illustrate the amount of damage on a can.  This poster is published and available for purchase through AOAC for $29 a poster, $125 for a package of 10. Customers can order through AOAC’s website at http://www.aoac.org. Download information about the dented can posters.

And finally, this is what the USDA has to say about canned food safety:
“While extremely rare, a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum is the worst danger in canned foods. NEVER USE food from containers that show signs of “botulism”: leaking, bulging, rusting, or badly dented cans; cracked jars; jars with loose or bulging lids; canned food with a foul odor; or any container that spurts liquid when opening. DO NOT TASTE THIS FOOD! Even the tiniest amount of botulinum toxin can be deadly.”

So after all said and done, I’m throwing out the of the “iffy” cans:

Any with rust or any that appear to have a dent on a seam or top or bottom. So far, the only dented ones I’ve found are recent and ‘safe’ dents. But the rusty ones are definitely going into the trash bin. How long have I had them that they actually RUSTED??? And Dude, how would you even rust a can if you tried?

 

.

 

my kind of cleaning, oh yeah

July 11, 2008 at 1:50 pm | Posted in CLEANING | Leave a comment
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I found some really interesting information that supports the idea that having (LIVE, not plastic folks) houseplants is good for you in more ways that just adding the color green…

Kitchen Window (1) (Here’s the view from the outside of my kitchen window…)

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, but the air inside may actually be more polluted than the air outside. Indoor air pollution can cause serious health problems, but there is something you can do to protect your family: fill your house with plants! Not only are they beautiful, but plants act as natural filters, absorbing many hazardous chemicals and particles from the air you breathe.

http://www.coopext.colostate.edu/4DMG/Plants/clean.htm

http://www.plant-care.com/indoor-plants-clean-air-1.html

Plants are the lungs of the earth: they produce the oxygen that makes life possible, add precious moisture to the air, and filter toxins. Houseplants can perform these essential functions in your home or office with the same efficiency as a rainforest in our biosphere. In research designed to create a breathable environment for a NASA lunar habitat, noted scientist Dr. B.C. Wolverton discovered that houseplants are the best filters of common pollutants such as ammonia, formaldehyde, and benzene. Hundreds of these poisonous chemicals can be released by furniture, carpets, and building material, which are then often trapped by closed ventilation systems, leading to the host of respiratory and allergic reactions

The NASA researchers suggest that for the test plants to be effective “air cleaners” it is necessary to use 1 potted plant per 100 square feet of home or office space

Bill Wolverton, a former NASA environmental scientist who has spent over 30 years studying how plants purify air, says that indoor plants can actually work as household air filters. He’s even created something that could come to market this autumn.

“Every chemical we tested, plants could take them out,” says Wolverton. He originally worked on life support systems for the moon and Mars, so it sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. Plus, it’s fairly obvious how his concept works: plants absorb and convert airborne poisons to energy and food. At the roots, ever-adapting microbes munch on toxicants

For less than the price of one doctor visit for a sore throat, house plants can clean the air in your home and make it safer for you to breathe

http://www.earthwitchery.com/pollution.html

A list of pet friendly plants can be found at:

http://www.petfriendlyhouse.com/information/Plants/non_poisonous_plants.aspx

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