How to remove that BO smell in uniforms?

Happy Hooligan

Well-Known Member
So after 70 years, the BO smell is still strong. I've tried vinegar spraying, vinegar soaking, Baking soda paste over night.

What works? it's crazy it's still there since 1945.
 

Smithy

Well-Known Member
You'll probably never truly get it out if it's that bad. Fabric absorbs oils and the accompanying odours that come with them.

You're best bet is to hang them in somewhere like your garage with the door slightly open so there's a passage of fresh air. This can take several weeks.

You can put the uniform inside out and hang it outside in the sun with a breeze. Don't do this for too long though as the UV can fade it fairly quickly.

We had uniforms at the museum I worked at which were the same, some impossible to get rid of every trace of BO.
 

Micawber

Well-Known Member
Tim has it. You've tried the usual stuff so apart from temporarily masking one smell with another the best thing is simply to turn the item inside out and then let the sun zap it out in the fresh air.
 

MikeyB-17

Well-Known Member
Outside in the fresh air has been the only one that’s worked for me. I had a jacket which reeked of fag smoke, none of the others (Febreze, baking soda etc. etc) touched it, but a long hang outside in the sun did.
 
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Micawber

Well-Known Member
By experience: dry cleaning..

Interesting, while I found that dry cleaning works on most items able to stand the process, I have had the odd thing that still retains a detectable whiff which I put down to hormone levels and other factors from the original wearer, cleaning, storage, traces of mildew etc.
 

Flightengineer

Well-Known Member
I had a case when cleaning and absorbents together with ventilation in the open air didn't work and then someone advised use coffee beans. I bought the cheapest coffee beans pack, sprinkled them on jacket and packed it in a hepmetic bag for a week. Then for several days the jacket smelled of coffee and after another week of airing disappeared the smell of coffee and the smell of which bothered me.
I don't know why it worked, but you can try. It probably depends on the type of contamination that gives off an unpleasant odor.
 

Ed Rooney

Well-Known Member
If it is that funky/skunky smell, I pop the item in the deep freeze for a few days. Works great on shoes.
 

Dany McDonald

Well-Known Member
You've already tried most of the non aggressive tricks I know. I suggest Borax, it did the trick for mildew & other unwanted whiff's on many Belstaff liners.

Rub the textile together, let it soak, rinse then dry. Redo if unsatisfied. Borax will not arm the color or textile, so it's safe.

Please confirm here if it did the trick, I am interested to know!

D
 

Flightengineer

Well-Known Member
You've already tried most of the non aggressive tricks I know. I suggest Borax, it did the trick for mildew & other unwanted whiff's on many Belstaff liners.

Rub the textile together, let it soak, rinse then dry. Redo if unsatisfied. Borax will not arm the color or textile, so it's safe.

Please confirm here if it did the trick, I am interested to know!

D

Do you dilute the powder in water? In what proportion? Thanks!
 

Smithy

Well-Known Member
I heard that freezing works but not tried it…..

Freezing may work to remove some odour in the short term however it with not kill off the bacteria that cause the odour. After time the odour will return as the bacteria start multiplying again. The idea that a common, domestic freezer can kill odours long term is a load of nonsense - it's a scientific impossibility.

We had a freezer room at the aviation museum but it wasn't used to kill odours rather to kill insect infestations, eg bed bugs.
 

Dany McDonald

Well-Known Member
Oh and I forgot to mentioned that glycerin soap is a good degreaser/remover and I've had very good results with cotton BO soiled. Synthetic textile are more complexe to clean depending on the stain/smell as they react differently with odour causing bacterias . I try very hard to work with gentle product so that the integrity of the garment (color & strength) stays untouched.

Hope this helps.

D
 

Garylafortuna

Well-Known Member
One of the most effective ways to eliminate odors permanently is by using ozone. As Smithy mentioned, you need to kill the bacteria. Ozone will do this and more. If anyone has ever had a problem with moth infestation; the kind that wreaks havoc with the knits on your A-2 jackets, ozone will take care of it. The downside is that it can be dangerous if not used with care. Ozone generators are available on line for as low as fifty dollars. It has been said that the corona virus can be neutralized by direct contact with ozone, but don't take my word for it. Could be a classic case of what'll get you first; covid or the ozone.
 
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Flightengineer

Well-Known Member
One of the most effective ways to eliminate odors permanently is by using ozone. As Smithy mentioned, you need to kill the bacteria. Ozone will do this and more. If anyone has ever had a problem with moth infestation; the kind that wreaks havoc with the knits on your A-2 jackets, ozone will take care of it. The downside is that it can be dangerous if not used with care. Ozone generators are available on line for as low as fifty dollars. It has been said that the corona virus can be neutralized by direct contact with ozone, but don't take my word for it. Could be a classic case of what'll get you first; covid or the ozone.

Not work in all cases. I borrowed a powerful ozon generator from a friend and used it several times on vintage nylon jackets that I didn't want to wash to remove the smell. It didn’t have much effect, and anyway, I washed them afterwards and thus got rid of the smell.
 

Micawber

Well-Known Member
I have just been suddenly reminded of something that happened to me back in my teen years when I was already an avid collector of WW2 stuff but sill living at home. I bought some Wehrmacht uniform items via a small private advert in the militaria section of 'Exchange & Mart' [UK bods of a certain age will know how the E&M was an early source of goodies & WW2 surplus back in the day. Of course it was all bought on good faith, sight unseen as per usual but when they arrived in the post the stink emitting from the parcel was impossible to miss. The stuff inside was indeed what it was supposed to be but was absolutely rank, filthy dirty, very heavily infested with things that still make me itch thinking about them, too look at you'd think they had been buried for the then 25+ years since the end of the war. Mum immediately banished the gear to the shed along with an earful about spending money on that "so and so, blankety blank" disgusting stuff.

Ah memories.
 
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