"Smokey" Yarn from Yard Sales

I regularly find yarn at yard sales which I use or give away. I often find that the yarn has come from a "smoker" home. THis realizton happens when i bring the yarn home as when it is sitting outside it is had to identify the smoke.

My question is..What is the best way to get rid of the smokey smell? I hate to use yarn like that and do not like to give it away smelling like that. THe price at yard sales is so cheap that I hate to give up this resource.


Thor's picture

If you can tolerate using it until it is knitted up... I wash my finished pieces in a light lavender or green tea scented shampoo using ice cold water. The smell is not over-powering and is not offensive to the frangrance-sensitive (like myself) but has the added benefit of repelling moths (assuming it's wool, this is a good thing!!). I then rinse it very well in more ice cold water and place in the spin-only cycle of the washing machine for about 30 seconds. I then place it in our dungeon-like basement blocking area where we have 2 dehumidifiers going. My knitted creation is clean and dry in no time! However, I have never tried this with yarn that is not already knitted up.

QueerJoe's picture

Living in a "smoker" home myself, non-smokers often smell smoke in my knitted garments, so I'm sure my yarn has that smell as well. I don't smoke, but I still can't smell it.

What has worked best for me is to put the yarn up in hanks if they aren't already, and hang them outside on a breezy day. Most folks can't smell any remnants of smoke when I do that.

If I still had a problem with a lingering smell, I would soak the hanks of yarn in hot water and Dawn liquid detergent (Dawn has a strong anti-grease factor, and if the yarn was in a house where smoke and grease might cause issues, the smoke might be lingering in the grease as well as the yarn). Then I would hang the hanks of yarn outside to dry.

I got a large hank of Rayon yarn on eBay once that had a very strong musty smell that I was never able to get rid of, but other than that, I've always been able to de-odorize yarn when I needed to.

V's picture

I store my yarn in those plastic containers. Sometimes, when I get into one of them after a while the yarn has been stored up in those containers, there's a certain smell to the yarn. I've solved this problem by putting in a bar of scented soap into the containers and now everytime I have to dig into my stash, there's a nice Irish Spring smell to the yarn.

kylewilliam's picture

I second the soap idea - it's a good way to store yarn, and irish spring (I think) has additional properties of keeping the bugs from eating your wool!




The techknitting blog addresses this issue http://techknitter.blogspot.com/2006/12/subject-index-for-techknittingblogspot.html

Yarn and garment care, June 17 and 19, 2007. It's a fantastic blog about techniques; well worth visiting in any case.

steve kadel's picture

i carry incense in my knitting bag

we put birds on things

RareSteek's picture

Use it to make felted ashtrays, and you won't care. :-)



Asbjörn's picture

Ha! That's a pearl of wisdom I must remember. :)


grandcarriage's picture

To remove smoke smell from wool...This is a pain, but it works...

If you want to remove the smell BEFORE you work with the wool (as I would) you reskein the yarn... actually pretty easy...you need a niddy-noddy, a swift, or a board with 2 pegs set about a foot and a half apart. Unwind the ball into a skein, blah blah blah... Wash the skein in a mild shampoo (if it's animal fiber) or gentle wash if it's synthetic or veg fiber... and the most important thing is add white vinegar 1/2 cup to 5 gal water...in the rinse water....I find that lifts the smell right out and brightens the colour. Hanging outside (not in full sun) to dry also helps. I like to give my skeins a couple good snaps to straighten out the fibers (hold an end in each hand, and give a brisk tug in opposite directions) at the end of the drying process). OR, you could knit up the garment, and wash as normal, using the white vinegar in the rinse water as above.

And FYI: Whenever I buy yarn from a private seller, especially animal fiber, it lives a week in my freezer as a guard against moth eggs/larvae...

VillageKnittiot's picture

I've started using Eucalan. I've been doing a lot of spinning, so I have to soak and hang my fibers after plying, but it does get the barnyard smell out. I would think it would get smokey smells out as well. The other benefits with Eucalan for animal products is that it replentishes the Lanolin in the wool and is supposed to make it moth proof. It is also nice that you don't have to rinse it out.