15 answers

My Halloween Costumes Have a Funny Smell, and I Can't Get Rid of It. Help!

For the last several years my Halloween costumes have had a funny smell. It's not mold, BO or any other smell that we can identify. I think it's a slightly sweet smell, but in an offensive way. It is however potent. After wearing one of the costumes, the smell lingers in my hair and on any other clothing or fabric that I touch. I have tried washing the costumes and using fabric softener, but that only adds a perfume scent to the other strange smell. I can't get rid of the smell and my husband refuses to wear any of the costumes that are even slightly tainted with it. Since I made these costumes many years ago, I have a fondness for them and would like to save them. Does anyone have any ideas on how I can get rid of a strong strange smell that seems locked in the fabric?

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Featured Answers

Essential oils should help. There is one in particular called Thieves that in a blend of clover and other oils. It works excellent on almost all cleaning

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Have you tried airing them out for several days before it's time to put them on? It may be that they are holding odors from the box (like someone else said) and if you just put them on, wash them, and put them away they could hold the odor more. I would let everything air out really well before puting them away this year, then get them out at least a week early next year for more airing.

You might consider storing them in a cedar chest - the smell is much more pleasant that many other things and it keeps moths and such away as well. Maybe even sprinkling cedar chips among them would help with the smell.

I had something with a bad smell. I used FaBreeze. If you use it more than once it will probably help the smell come out. Good Luck P.

Have you tried using vinegar in the wash cycle? I find that makes my laundry smell so much fresher and its natural.

I'd try using a steamer.

Did you try dry cleaning?

Have you tried washing them in Surf detergent? It is good at removing odors.

Have you tried spraying them with Febreeze?

Every time my clothes smell funky form going sour etc... I put baking soda in the was with them. It works miracles, a little baking soda and the normal detergent etc...

Hi M.,
Are you storing the costume in plastic tubs/boxes? Smells are often the result of something "growing" as you mentioned like mold and mildew. There are thousands of varieties of such things and many of them smell sweet. I agree with another post that said to try a dry cleaner, but then I would also buy a new box or wardrobe bag to store them in. The cause of the smell is probably in the storage.
Take care,

Maybe take them to the dry cleaners and see if they can help.

I've done the vinegar thing too.. 1/2 cup for an extra large load. 1/4 cup for a medium load. I use it all the time with my washclothes and towels that were wet for too long... you know? And the smell comes right out!

If you use Febreeze, (great stuff!) I would then hang them out for a bit. Sometimes you have to repeat the process once or twice, but it does work well. Good luck!

My sister, who uses cloth diapers, will lay them out in the sun for a couple of hours every other wash cycle or so, and it keep odors from building up on them. I also have good experience washing with borax added to the detergent and using vinegar as a rinse/fabric softener. I would do that, do an extra rinse, and then hang them out to air dry outside in the sun, and see if that helps. You could always repeat the cycle again, if needed. And then you could store them with cedar chips, or baking soda (one of those refrigerator boxes with an air permeable side) to help prevent the smell from coming back. And then I would take then out a couple weeks before Halloween next year, and hang them outside again, or wash again if needed. Good luck.

Good Luck.

I recently got some clothes for my little girl from someone on freecycle, and they had the ever-dreaded cat urine smell-
my mother-in-law washed them with vinegar poured into the washer with the detergent and it got the smell out completely.

Worth a try!

Are these costumes by chance made of polyester of some other man made fiber? Many of these develop a chemically odor over time. I can't use sheets that aren't pure cotton because of it. It's part of the agind process with these fibers and there is no way to get rid of it.

Essential oils should help. There is one in particular called Thieves that in a blend of clover and other oils. It works excellent on almost all cleaning

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