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3 Ways To De-Stink and Un-Funk Vintage Furniture

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Jessica
03.05.12

You’ve finally found it. Nestled in the back corner of the shop, hidden under years of dust, is the perfect mid-century modern sofa. There’s only one problem: It smells like a three-week-old gym sock dipped in skunk. Instead of passing on a perfect flea market find or imagining what might have happened on that loveseat to produce this unique smell, de-stink and un-funk it with cleaning agents you already have stored under your sink.


Try of the following to clean up your new treasure:

White Vinegar If your wooden furniture smells musty, mix a concoction of equal parts white vinegar and water. Submerge a sponge in the mixture and be sure to wring it out well. Then, rub the sponge over your furniture piece and allow it to fully dry.

Baking Soda If your sofa, or any other upholstered piece, is smelly, sprinkle the baking soda on thick. If you’re un-funking outside, be sure to keep the soda out of the sun. In the bright sunshine, the baking soda will act as a bleaching agent and discolor your furniture. Let the baking soda sit for 24 hours, and then vacuum it off.

Bleach If your wooden or plastic furniture is yellowing or smells a little stale, concoct a mixture of 10% bleach with 90% water. Dip a soft bristled brush in the offensive areas and tackle the stains. If a child or pet could lick the furniture, be sure to thoroughly rinse the area with water.

It’s always a good idea to test out these techniques on a small area of the furniture. And, please be careful when working with bleach!

If your find is made of wood, then the foul culprit is probably mold or mildew. Mold and mildew thrive in organic material (like wood), especially if there is any moisture involved. The previous cleaners will kill the mold on the surface, but pay attention to your piece. If it continues to smell funky, or fungus or mold sprouts, it’s time to move on. Even an Eames chair isn’t worth endangering your family’s health.

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