Saturday, March 13, 2010

OLD FASHIONED SACHETS - Simple ways to prevent musty smells in clothing storage.


Ha-ha I just had to get that out of my system. But, cheer up, I am not only writing to be clever, I bare useful ideas. Spring is coming and with the many rituals of spring comes that of putting away our heavy winter blankets and clothing. Spring is definitely coming and with it comes new life and new beginnings. But even the passing of winter comes with some regrets and so it is with some sadness that I relinquish all the warm cuddly blankets and the comforting sweaters to the drawers and chests and plastic bins in which they rest most of the year.

One of the issues that arise during storage of anything – long or short term, is smell. Cooping fabric up in tight airless spaces is just perfect for the breeding of musty smells, mildew and moths. Especially here in the south, humidity is high all summer long and that just adds to the problems faced by stored cloth.

Fortunately, there is a simple living solution. Sachets have been used for years to scent closets and drawers. They worked well then and they still do today. This is not going to be rocket science and it will be the very simplest process. I love dried herbs and flowers and personally think that crafting your own scented sachets is a great idea. In fact, I may post on homemade potpourri and sachets someday. But, today I offer a simple easy as pie way to make sachets that smell awesome, work great, and cost little.

Wait; before I go on does everybody know what a sachet is? - Probably not. Ok, well the most technical definition of a sachet refers to the fact that it is held in little fabric bags. In fact that is what sachet means in old French – “little bag”. But over time, the meaning came to include that these bags would be filled with something scented. Commonly, they are filled with sweet or woodsy herbs and tossed into storage chests or dressers to prevent bad smells and add a light pleasant scent.

So here we begin, we need cheap easy fabric storage bags that are sized well to fit into drawers. Two simple solutions to that need are common in every house. Socks and stockings, both are made from breathable fabric, both are long and tube-like to fit well in drawers and both are easily available as they get too worn to serve their first purpose. Little fabric bags? – done.

Now scented fillings need to be found. Well, honestly in a world of cheap Chinese made potpourris I have to make a stand. Cheap potpourri rarely lasts long enough to work. I know it smells nice to start – but remember this is for long term storage. What is my answer? – cedar chips. Cedar has been a favorite for storage since they started marinating the pharaohs in it 5,000 years ago. It holds its scent for a very long time. It does tend to be a little masculine but you can soften it a bit easily enough. Plus, cedar chips are cheap. They sell premade cedar storage blocks but they are very expensive. For the cost of one small solid block of cedar you can get a huge bag of chips. Look for them in the pet section, where they are sold as bedding.  Chips also allow more air flow and therefore spread their scent more effectively and can also pick up a little moisture from the air and thus help reduce mildew.

Finally, cedar is a natural insect repellant. Do not underestimate the value of being repellant to bugs. Although I have heard of moths eating cloth all my life – I never really saw it. Until last year, I noticed a lot of little moths flitting around the house and at first I ignored it. Then I went to open up a box of Viyella shirts. Viyella is a blend of cotton and wool, very nice, very expensive. Well, I am sure you can guess what I saw – moth riddled ruin. Now all those shirt and sweater boxes have a nice cedar stuffed stocking in them and I feel a lot better and they smell a lot better.

It is a grand slam – so there is our scent. All that remains it to combine them, simple enough one simple fills the socks somewhat over half with the chips and then closes the end with a simple knot of ribbon or yarn. To use stockings you may want to cut the tops down to the size you prefer. For panty hose, just cut off the legs to the length you desire. Stockings are not as “cute” as ribboned socks, but they allow better air flow. Also, they can be made very long and thin and thus perfect to stretch along the back edge of a drawer or chest.

Once made these sachets can be tossed anywhere you want to use them. They are flexible, cheap and effective. They are great in all your dresser drawers, and they fit easily into any storage chest or containers. But, a great use for them I found is to place them inside shoes and sneakers. They do a great job of reducing odor. I am working on an improvement to the shoe idea and if it works out, I will share it in a later post.

So, there you have – sachet – the little bag that does a big job. It is cheap, it recycles, it is very green and it makes your socks smell clean. Truly this is one heirloom skill worth reintroducing to the simple life.


  1. Thanks it takes two simple items - one recycled and one renewable and makes them servea good usefull purpose - Honestly works great too and you can always refresh the scent with a touch of cedar oil


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