I am debating whether to try to launder the clothing from my aunt's estate before trying to sell. It would probably be 7 or 8 full loads. A lot of water, detergent and dryer time to try to clean something that may or may not sell, but they've been in a house that had sick pets in it and the clothes seemed to have absorbed the pet odors. After my aunt went into assisted care the clothes stayed in an the unregulated temperature home (hot in summer, frigid in winter) for two years. Now they are very, ahem, mephitic smelling. They sure won't sell if presented unwashed. I did give some to a woman who was a neighbor of my aunt and she subsequently informed me that she washed the clothes she took three time and couldn't get the smell out. I also took three 60 gallon trash bags to a local thrift store and they wouldn't accept them. Seems a shame to scrap all those stylish clothes. Here's the lot, piled up on the back porch:
One thing about you Weakestlink, you don't give up easily- you're always trying to get something out of items most of us wouldn't hesitate to pitch in a heartbeat. The neighbor said she washed items 3 times and still had the stench, the thrift store wouldn't accept them for the same reason. Animal shelters wouldn't want stinky items either. Save your time and energies - time to trash it all. Thanks for introducing me to a new word "mephitic "- have never heard that before. Good luck.
I guess it's my heredity - my patents were avid "pickers".
A big dumpster in the driveway would be your best friend. The effort you are going through to try to sell, donate and rehome things that no one wants is going to make you ill.
That is just too much for any one person to take on. Life is short, get rid of everything that does not walk away on its own. Her life is ended, but you are still here.
Live without guilt, trash the stuff and move on.
I, too, hate to throw things away, but if they smell that bad after three washings, they may be contaminated from the ill pets...ewwww; scary to me! I'll have to look up that word you mentioned.
You have all our permission to throw it out and move on.
Take care... (((Hugs)))
Synonyms for Mephitic:
stinking - smelly - noisome
But anyway. If you're asking Opinions, I say toss everything and don't look back.
If you HAVE to try to wash them...put cidar vinegar in the rinse instead of softener. That may well cut the "smell". It works pretty good for musty smelling towels.
"The soil is the source of life, creativity, culture and real independence." David Ben-Gurion
I too hate to give up anything that seems salvageable, so I would test just a small batch of clothes before washing everything or giving up on the whole lot.
Your profile indicates that you're in NY, so it's not the best time to try to air out the clothes, which may or may not be of help, if the odors are so entrenched. Sometimes fresh air can do wonders!
If you're storing them in a garage or basement, add plenty of bowls of baking soda on a proposed test batch to see if it will absorb any odors. Cat litter is also good for odor absorption. I stored a lot of clothes for 2 years in an outdoor storage shed without climate control, accompanied by several little trays of cat litter, and absolutely nothing had any odor. But that is different than a sick odor.
What kind of detergent did you use? Have you tried Tide? There are also natural detergents that you could make, but I don't have links offhand to recipes. Something with an odor absorbing herb might help.
Whatever you do, let the clothes air dry in fresh air; don't use a dryer!
Are the clothes predominantly synthetic or cotton? I think synthetics are harder to clean than natural fabrics, and hold odors longer.
If you do get the odors out do you plan to sell them at a garage sale? After my sister died I spoke with several people regarding what items sell best at garage sales in my area (Michigan) and was told that clothes don't sell well at all.
After washing the clothes and letting them air dry, I just donated them to charities.
Another thought...some churches accept donations that they hand out for emergencies...like house fires/floods, etc. You might contact a couple of local ones to see if they do that and if they would take them with the smell.
"The soil is the source of life, creativity, culture and real independence." David Ben-Gurion
weakestlink, Yes, it seems a shame to just toss good fabrics, but, when they are no longer "good" due to age, smell or whatever, those fabrics have run their course and served their purpose. Take a moment to just imagine how your aunt enjoyed them when new and then take a moment to realize that that "moment" has come and gone. It is time to send them to the landfill without guilt.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Idaho Resident,
They seem to be mainly acetate, polyester and other synthetic fabrics.
Time to let go of the clothes, esp those synthetics that you're dealing with.
Pitch them, but I've heard white vinegar can eliminate odors in clothing. Add a cup to the wash, maybe with the most promising looking load.
I wouldn't put a lot of effort into it though, used clothing isn't a big seller, especially old folks clothing.
Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.
My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Acetate, polyester and other synthetic fibers are almost impossible to get old bad odors out of. Absolutely no one is going to want to wear old stinky clothes, even after a flood or other disaster. The chance of getting much money for the cloths is pretty much zero. I am sure you don't want a stinky bunch of cloths piled on your back porch any more. I would get rid of them by putting them in the trash.
It is sad but I agree--get rid of them in the trash.
I did four full loads of washing my aunt's clothes. Some actually turned out very well.
Is the smell all gone?
All but two pants. I may have to toss those. I washed in cold water and tumble dried on medium with a softener sheet.
Good for you, weakestlink. You've salvaged a lot of those clothes and even if you don't get a lot for them, somebody will be able to use them.
Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.
Do you have a soak cycle?
I'd try that on some pieces.
I love my soak cycle for outdoor wear!
I have a really old Whirlpool top loading washer. It was in teh house when my parents bought it ijn 1975 and who knows how long it was there before that (had to have it repaired a few times). It doesn't have a "soak" cycle per se, my mom used to just let it fill, then shut it off and turn it on again when she though it had soaked enough.
Ahh... I miss the days when the user had control over the machinery instead of the other way around. If I had to wash DH's grubby workclothes in one of today's washers, I'm positive I wouldn't be able to get them as clean, between the inadequacies of the detergents and the shorter cycles/inadequate water fill of the machines. If you need to do more than run lightly soiled clothes through a rinse for quick 'refreshing', you're sunk.
WL... I commend your tenacity at salvaging those clothes instead of immediately sending them off to the landfill. Job well done!
Weakestlink, I see why you wanted to attempt to salvage some of the clothes! The ones you posted look like very nice items.
It seems you may be doing this already, but I was going to mention picking out some of the more up-to-date pieces and seeing what you can do with those. I do agree with the use of vinegar. I tried that a couple times on a brand new pair of pants that smelled horrible due to the dye within the fabric! Brand new!
I actually used the vinegar in with the detergent and the odor was pretty much gone!
That being said, I still would not hesitate to pitch the majority of the items simply because the money and time you are putting into the cleaning/etc, will certainly come nowhere close to what you will get out of them. Sad but true.
Hey, just thought of something...
If you have a Craigslist in your area, you might advertise (it's free) about the clothes there. Explain that they do have an odor and would need to be cleaned.
You never know...someone who might need the clothes and is the correct size just might be willing to take them (or some of them) off your hands for free. Just a thought~
"Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened"
I did post them on Craig's List and in a local but widely-circulated classified magazine. No "bites" yet.
They're very pretty!
She had good taste in clothing.
Update on the clothes: I've now had a few tag sales. Not many people look at the clothes and they are deceptively heavy. No matter how taut I string the clothesline between the maple tree and the metal post out front, after 20 or so garments, it practically sags to the ground. I had to make several trips carrying the clothes to hang them up. I think I sold 4 items. Then I took them around to the local thrift shops - there are three new ones I tried. One is more of a boutique, one is a church-run business and the other is kind of a shelter-run charity house. The boutique took about a dozen, the church shop only took about 4 items and the shelter would only take blouses - no pants or suits. So now I've still got about 2 dozen garments nobody wanted.
You certainly have more patience than I do. Personally, I would pack those remaining 24 pieces in large trash bags, tie them up, and drop them off at Goodwill. Then get back in the car and step on it!!!!
I agree. Is there a goodwill or Salvation Army near you?
There's a SA about 10 miles away, but I heard they are not accepting clothing right now. There are clothes drop-off bins around, but I'm not sure who sponsors those. I just makes me wonder why I see people fighting over clothes at some garage sales, but at mine no one seems interested.
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