Scents often remain on fabrics after washing
QUESTION: I have a daughter with extreme scent allergies. Accordingly, we use all fragrance-free soaps, cleansers, cosmetics, etc.
One of the most frustrating problems we encounter is when we purchase new clothing. Even though we couldn’t smell it in the store, upon returning home we find that it is scented either from being previously tried on by another customer who was wearing fragrance or has been handled by a salesperson with scented lotion on her hands, etc. We avoid purchasing clothing from stores that sell perfumed products or scented candles (which, in itself, has become challenging because even uniform shops seem to stock perfumed candles even though the hospitals and medical facilities where they are worn are scent-free institutions).
I have tried soaking and washing these scented clothes in Nellie’s Washing Soda, baking soda, vinegar and even lemon juice, airing them out for an extended period of time in fresh air, and packaging them up with Deoderoc blocks, newspapers or coffee grounds, but nothing seems to remove the smell. Could you advise me on how to eliminate the scent? Thank you so much for your help. I really need it. — Ann, Winnipeg
ANSWER: You are doing everything right and tackling fabric odours with the best ammunition available. Is it possible that your daughter is one of the many people battling multiple chemical sensitivity? Also known as MCS syndrome or simply MCS, this is a disorder in which a person develops symptoms from exposure to chemicals in the environment.
As you have experienced, scents often remain on fabrics even after washing and pre-soaking; this is due to chemical treatments for stains, flame retardency and wrinkles as well as dyes used in manufacturing. These treatments often cause fabrics to smell permanently.
Always purchase natural fibres or fabrics like cotton, linen and silk. Whenever possible, look for organic clothing and use organic cotton bedding. Pesticides and insecticides are used to grow regular cotton, chlorine is used to bleach it, and arsenic is used for fabric treatment.
Some people recommend the use of an ozone machine for removing odours in fabrics, but this option is highly debated and many experts claim that ozone machines are unsafe for health purposes.
Lastly, when you do use products such as vinegar and washing soda, be sure to use the hottest water that the fabric will accept. I often boil fabrics in a pot on the stove to remove stains and odours. Since perfume smells bother your daughter, be sure to ask salespeople if they have any more of the clothing that you want to buy in their storeroom. QUESTION: I love all of your household hints and look forward to your suggestions each week. My problem is this: We have a very heavy coffee table in our living room and, after redecorating, we moved the table and now have indents in the carpet where it sat. We tried the ice-cube trick but the dents still remain. Are they permanent or can they be removed? — Alexandra, New Bothwell, Man.
ANSWER: I would call this an interesting challenge, not a problem. Here is the solution: Spray the carpet dents with a spray bottle filled with water. Hold a hair dryer over the area and place on HIGH setting. Comb the fibres up using your fingers. Works fast and effectively. QUESTION: Could you please give me a suggestion for removing red wine stains from a light-red leather couch? I would appreciate any help you could offer. Thanks. — Barney, Winnipeg
ANSWER: What makes this stain one of the most difficult to remove is that red wine is a dye and therefore the spill is not sitting on top of the fibres (as most spills do). The wine has now become part of the leather. There are commercial leather cleaners on the market, or you can tackle the job yourself. Act quickly. Some people have had great results by dabbing the area with lemon juice and blotting with dish soap and water. Another solution: dab the area with a fair amount of white wine and blot. Do not rub the area; doing so will only spread the stain. Repeat until stain is gone. Test on an inconspicuous area first.
Ordering wine in a restaurant:
Do not be afraid to ask the serving personnel which wines are their bestsellers and which wines go best with the meal you’ve chosen. Check out the price before you make your decision.
If you’re dining with a group of people, get their opinions as to which wines they prefer — white or red, sweet or dry — and what types of food people will be ordering. If there are votes for both whites and reds, compromise by leaning towards a heavy white like an oak-filled Chardonnay or a lighter red, a Pinot Noir or even a light-bodied Merlot.
Forget about smelling the wine, but do check out the cork to see that it’s not dried out or cracked.
When the server brings you your bottle, note the wine’s colour and clarity. Is it cloudy or brownish in colour? Only very old selections should have this appearance.
Smell the cork to see if it smells like vinegar. This is a sign of oxidation or a faulty cork.
Taste the sample and, if it is to your liking, give the server the thumbs-up to pour the wine.
I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming.
Don’t be afraid to ask your server for wine suggestions.