Removing odour from a felt-lined box

I recently bought a chess set that includes the pieces in a felt-lined box. The box has a distinct odour that is very unpleasant. Obviously, I can’t wash the box, and I’m reluctant to try and take the felt out to have it cleaned.

Is there any way I can clean or deodorize the box with the felt still in it? I’ve left it for two nights with a small bowl of vinegar locked inside, but so for no luck.


Maybe spray with Lysol?

For textiles – sofas and the like – I use a combination of baking soda, salt, cornmeal, and some spices (in my case cinnamon and clove, but I just like those). Mix up in a bowl or jar, sprinkle over surface, let stand, vacuum off.

I have made it with vanilla and with lemon extract – in this case, add it to the dry ingredients, mix until there are no more lumps (not any. not even one) and let stand overnight to avoid dampness getting into your felt, then use as above. I have also used basil, which I also let stand overnight so the oils could be absorbed into the dry ingredients.

You could also, if you don’t like smells, just use baking soda, salt and cornmeal. But I do, as you see.


I’d try this first just because it’s so easy. And at least in my experience it works great.

Nancy Johnson-Srebro, author of Featherweight 221: The Perfect Portable, a collector’s guide for Singer Featherweight sewing machines, suggests de-stinking musty sewing machine cases by lining them with fabric softener sheets and leaving them in there for a few days. She particularly recommends Bounce. I have passed this on to several of my husband’s friends who have bought musical instruments with nasty old cases, and they have reported success.

If you have access to cat litter, then try putting some cat litter in a piece of muslin or other cheap natural fiber cloth, tying it up, and placing the bundle into the box. Cat litter tends to absorb odor. Naturally, don’t let your cats have access to this box. Leave the litter in for a few days to a couple of weeks, taking it out every now and then and giving it a whiff. If it stinks, discard the old stuff and put in new. Also, sniff the box when you do this.

If you don’t have cats, and don’t feel like springing for even a small bag of cat litter, then try using baking soda.

The reason I say to put it in a tied cloth sack is because baking soda is a fine powder, and cat litter generally gives off some fine powder, and you don’t want to have to have another cleaning chore.

Thanks for the replies. Since I have Bounce sheets at home, I’m going to give that a try, and then move on to Febreze & maybe Lysol, just for the easy factor. After that, it’s on to Marienee’s suggestion, which sounds nice because you can tailor your scent. Marienee, can you suggest proportions for the ingredients?

I would use either baking soda or Febreeze (or however it is spelled). But with either/both I wouldn’t put them directly on the lining. For the baking soda I would pour some in a small dish or container and leave it in the box with the lid closed. For the Febreeze I would spray a paper towel, a piece of fabric or something similar and place that in the box with the lid closed.

Let me see, it depends on what I am cleaning. Baking soda is to deodorize and corn meal is to soak up grease adn etc and salt is…well, salt is because my grandmother always used it, lol. But back when I could get Borax I used it instead of salt. (If Dutch guys have borax, I haven’t yet figured out what they call it). So possibly it’s for killing the icky things making the smell in the first place.

So for deodorizing I would use 2 parts baking soda to 1 part each cornstarch and salt. The spices I use about a tablespoon to a cup total cleaner. For extracts that works out to about 20 drops total/cup, if you are using actual fragrance or essential oils I would drop it to about 10.

I make all my cleaning products because 1)I hate the smell of commercial cleaners and 2) I like layering the scents in my house – leading my guests by the nose through the house, if you like. But publically of course I claim it is because I am such an eco warrior.

Boric acid, basically.

I’m late to the thread but I use an old trick a bookseller taught me ------- a bar of soap like a LEVER 2000 or IRISH SPRING inside and set it in a sunny place. A window ledge or the like. Outside if you are in a warm climate. The soap seems to pull the odor out without leaving a lot of trace smells behind. I’ve used it for musty cardboard and wood as well as fabrics and booksIf you are worried about staining from the soap, but some plastic under the bar - its air circulation and not physical contact you need.

(For books I put the soap bars in a plastic tube with holes in it, put the tube in the center of several books, and seal the whole thing in a 2 gallon ziplock. Hasn’t failed me in 30 years)

Well, right, which in Dutch is spelled boorzuur to translate directly. That is available in soldering shops. But what I call borax appears to translate as natriumbooraat. The trouble is, as with all these things, whether it is commercially available in a form with which I am familiar, and if so, what they call it.