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Remove mothball odor from furniture

By on November 16, 2012

Dear Sara:

Do you have a remedy for getting mothball odor out of a cedar chest? Nothing I have tried works. — Alice M., email

Dear Alice:

Don’t try to wash it out. That usually causes the odor to go deeper into the wood. I would keep the chest open and outside as much as possible. A covered porch would be a good place. It will take a lot of time, fresh air, heat and sunlight before it goes away. I suppose you could try to refinish it, but that’s a lot of work, and there’s no guarantee, because most cedar chest interiors are not finished, so the smell is really absorbed by the wood. You can try a product called Smelleze Mothball Deodorizer Pouch by Imtek ( or all of the typical absorbers, such as baking soda, kitty litter, coffee grounds, newspaper and charcoal.

Dear Sara:

My aunt (an avid reader of your column) asked me to email you for suggestions on how to eliminate the center creases from magazine pages. One of her hobbies is framing pictures of birds from magazines, and many times they are two-page spreads with the middle crease. How can she eliminate the crease without altering the picture? — Myrna Z., email

Dear Myrna:


She could try ironing the page on a low setting, but she’ll need to use another piece of paper on top so she’s not ironing directly on the poster. She can try laminating it, too.

Dear Sara:

I read your column faithfully and have used your shortcuts. Do you have a suggestion for straightening out a tangled herringbone necklace? I received one many years ago from a dear friend and wore it constantly until about two months ago, when it became twisted. Your help will be greatly appreciated. — Barbara L., email

Dear Barbara:

I would take it to a jeweler. A chain necklace can be untangled with baby oil and a straight pin, but herringbone kinks aren’t something you can simply get rid of, because of their flat design. I suggest taking it to a jeweler to see if they can do anything to save it. They might be able to roll out the kinks or cut them out.

Dear Sara:

I watched a disaster prep video on the Internet that featured a big plastic baggie called a waterBOB that you fill with water in your bathtub. I think I want one; we always fill the downstairs tub when a big storm is predicted. (We’d like to fill our upstairs tub, but the drain has a slow leak.) Have you ever actually used a waterBOB? If you use it once, is it possible to drain it and use it again someday? It seems like it’s a one-shot deal, because it would get icky inside from the residual water unless you can store it in the freezer when it’s not in use. If you can reuse it, it’s a good idea, I think, just to save on bottled water alone; but if you can’t, $20 is an awful lot for a throwaway baggie. — Zhoen, forums

Dear Zhoen:

I would fix the drain in your other tub. The parts and kits are not expensive, and there are plenty of repair video tutorials online. I’m assuming this is not for drinking, though. Another option is to simply use a clean bucket or two, or use 2-liter plastic pop bottles, food-grade water storage containers/barrels (which you can find where camping supplies are sold), or commercially bottled drinking water. The waterBOB is for one-time use.

photo by slackermark

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