Musty smelling yarn

Do any yarn lovers out there know a trick for getting rid of the musty smell in vintage yarn? I found a few things online but I’m curious if anyone has actually tried a technique that worked.

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Soak the yarn in cold water with white vinegar (~2-4 Tbsp) added. After soaking for 30 minutes, drain the water off, press the yarn to get as much water out as possible, and let the yarn dry on a beach towel.
This technique doesn’t work well on acrylic yarn, but works great on natural fibers. I hope it helps!

PS. Yes, I’ve used this, yes, it worked.


If you’re not comfortable soaking unknit yarn (FOT–Fear of Tangling is real!) you can also just fill a spray bottle with white vinegar, spread the yarn out, and spray it until damp and then leave it be and let it dry.


Thanks so much! I’m glad to hear you had success with the white vinegar. I’ll definitely give that a try, and update with my progress!

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I do worry about the real possibility of tangling, but I figured I would experiment with the yarn that came with 10 skeins. Then if it’s a disaster, I’ll still have plenty of back up!

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i have wrapped up nasty- smelling fabric and yarn in a plastic bag with i scented dryer sheets ( wrap them loosely in tissue paper so dryer sheets don’t directly touch fabric or yarn ) for at least a week. Usually works really well. good luck!


You can also add more ties to the skeins to avoid the dreaded tangles.


Thanks for the tip!

typo above- should be “ unscented” dryer sheets

Does this work if the yarn is already wound in cakes? I have a bunch of old yarn from an auction, most of it smells a bit musty. It’s all wound in cakes, and about half are unlabeled. Based on what is labeled, I expect they are probably all wool.

I wouldn’t know. I unwound the one cake I had and put it back into a hank.

I really would prefer not to have to do that, I have about 80 cakes that smell. Luckily not all of the 150 smell, but that’s an awful lot of unwinding and rewinding. Maybe I’ll try with just one first. Guess that’s the cost of getting so much yarn cheap…

Before you make yourself crazy, put them outside with fresh air and sunshine. If they’re not too bad that may be all it takes to refresh them.


Thanks, I’ll try that. Well, when we actually have sunshine, anyway…