I’ve told you about my new obsession with vintage sewing patterns, right? Okay, well I may have mentioned it in passing…but seriously! They are so much fun!
Look at this!
Or even this:
How stinking cute!!
So anyway, even though I couldn’t sew a stitch to save my life…sewing patterns fit in the Recycleista’s philosophy of matching up quality vintage items that have lots of life left in them to the right buyers. Be Green! Buy Vintage!
Not long ago, I bought a box full of sewing patterns on Ebay. SO much fun to browse through. But as soon as I got the package in the mail, I knew there was a problem. I was opening the box and this overwhelming cigarette smoke odor hit my face.
(my dealings with the seller and the whole resolution of that issue is another story…not to worry…it worked out fine.)
BUT, I ended up with a box of patterns. Honestly, the condition of the patterns was worse than described as well (damage, mold)…so many of them just ended up being fire starters in our wood stove.
However, there was a handful of nice, uncut vintage patterns that were fine….except for the smoke smell. I needed a solution for removing smoke odor from paper.
So I turned to the internet. And amidst the suggestions of the freezer, a bin full of charcoal or kitty litter or baking soda…one idea surfaced repeatedly.
Okay. Small problem.
I live in the Pacific Northwest. At least 75% of the year looks like this.
Maybe an exaggeration. But in the fall and winter…I’m not going to be able to count on nice strong sunshine to remove smoke odor from paper.
Hmm…so it was time to turn to some artificial sunshine.
Yes! A hair dryer.
I’ve tested this method to remove smoke odor on sewing patterns, but the principles should apply to most paper goods.
First thing I do is shoot the hair dryer full on into the pattern, contents and all. Some patterns are more brittle and fragile than others, so handle carefully.
Then I take the pattern and instructions out and aim the heat at them one at a time. I didn’t totally unfold the pattern tissue, just did the best I could. I also aimed the dryer into the empty envelope.
It takes a bit of time so be patient…maybe close to a minute or so on each section.
And be careful not to burn your fingers!.
The first time I tried this I was shocked! It really, really helped! At least 90% of the smell was gone. I could use the dryer longer and probably completely remove it…or in this case, I just added a disclaimer to those listings on Etsy. If a buyer is allergic or super sensitive…I still want to make sure they won’t be bothered.
Have you tried the sunshine method before to remove smoke odor from books or paper? What’s your go-to method for removing those odors? Leave a comment below!