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Need decluttering help- useful items but...
Old 10-23-2016, 11:18 AM   #1
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Need decluttering help- useful items but...

I need some advice from those who have faced this problem themselves. We acquired many useful but problematic items from my parents.

The biggest problem is tobacco smoke residue. An example is my parents' Chicago cutlery set. It has been in a non-tobacco environment for 14 years yet still stinks of smoke.

How does one throw away knives? And their pop art prints from the 50s. In great shape but for their smoking.

I could expand on this but you get the idea. We have already thrown away so much stuff. Any advice?
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Old 10-23-2016, 11:28 AM   #2
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I'm sure the cutlery stinks because of the container it is in. I suggest discarding the container (wooden knife block?) and soaking the cutlery in a sink full of gentle detergent scented with citrus. After washing, store it in a fresh container.

The pop art prints are probably irretrievable, because tobacco smoke infiltrates fabrics and stays there. It might be possible to lock in the toxic chemicals by laminating or varnishing them, which might cost more than they are worth. Visit an art store for suggestions.
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Old 10-23-2016, 12:00 PM   #3
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I think if you would like to keep/use them, consult an expert in each item as Meadbh suggested. If they are simply nice reminders of your parents, take photos and make a collage of them and be rid of the items themselves.
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Old 10-23-2016, 12:23 PM   #4
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If it was me, I would donate everything to Good Will.

I probably would never use any of it if it smelled bad to me, so why keep it in the house?

I have plenty of other mementos of my parents, though, all of which would fit into a shoebox.
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Old 10-23-2016, 01:07 PM   #5
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It might help to put all smelling stuff for some time into a box filled with fresh cat litter. It recently helped me with some handbags.
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Old 10-23-2016, 01:36 PM   #6
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If they are simply nice reminders of your parents, take photos and make a collage of them and be rid of the items themselves.
This is what they recommended on the Clean House TV show - take a picture, keep the memories but sell or donate the clutter.
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Old 10-23-2016, 01:40 PM   #7
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Put UV-tolerant, foul-smelling items in sunshine for a couple months. Does not need to be outdoors, just in the sun. That has always de-stinked items for me.
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Old 10-23-2016, 03:03 PM   #8
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If it was me, I would donate everything to Good Will.

I probably would never use any of it if it smelled bad to me, so why keep it in the house?

I have plenty of other mementos of my parents, though, all of which would fit into a shoebox.
+1.

Our home looks like that warehouse at the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Each time the VVA comes for their pickup we leave stacks of boxes full of "treasures" we part with. It makes no impact. I have lost a Norden bombsight here somewhere (seriously). Bad habits are hard to change.

If you're not going to use it, and it doesn't have any sentimental value (kitchen knives?), then donate it. Someone will use it and be grateful.

_B
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Old 10-23-2016, 03:28 PM   #9
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How does one throw away knives?
People are always looking for knives at thrift/charity shops. To donate, I put heavy tape (like clear shipping tape) on the blade portion, wrap the entire lot up in newspaper, write "KNIVES" on it and stick it in my donation box with everything else.


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Old 10-23-2016, 03:36 PM   #10
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I only kept a few decorative things from people to remember them by. Everything else goes to Goodwill.
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Old 10-23-2016, 04:54 PM   #11
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For things that might have resale value - ebay or craigslist - but discount the price due to the smoke smell - and disclose it in the description (and explain the price is discounted.)

I have an extended family member who's into everything kitschy... She'd probably buy it - figure out how to descent it - then sell for a profit... it's what she does. It's amazing how many people are into odd stuff.
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Old 10-23-2016, 06:21 PM   #12
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If you're interested in removing the smoke smell, I found this article on "How to remove smoke smell form your eBay purchases".

They cover various materials and items....How to Eliminate Smoke Smell from Your eBay Purchases! | eBay

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Old 10-23-2016, 07:52 PM   #13
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When houses burn, special construction companies spray the non-burnt wood in houses with chemicals that removes smoke smells. Zep products are used.

They'll scrub sooty surfaces with a rubber block and the soot falls off.

Google the subject, and you should find info on smoke eradication.
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Old 10-23-2016, 08:03 PM   #14
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Thanks for all your replies. I think I'll donate the stuff as is. I don't want it. I really want less stuff. A lot less stuff.
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Old 10-23-2016, 11:44 PM   #15
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Thanks for all your replies. I think I'll donate the stuff as is. I don't want it. I really want less stuff. A lot less stuff.
Wait - - there's something I didn't think about until I read your post above and then went back and re-read your initial post. Are your parents still alive? And if so, would they be hurt if they came to your house and the knives weren't out?

If that's the case, then I wouldn't donate them after all. Or, at least I'd try to think of how I would handle it if they mentioned it.
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Old 10-24-2016, 04:25 AM   #16
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No. I've had this stuff in storage and in the basement for years. My parents were heavy smokers until the early 90s. My mom passed away in 2002 from lung cancer, my dad in 2009 from COPD and heart failure even though he hadnMt smoked in 17 years. This stuff has had no tobacco exposure since 2001 and minimal exposure for 10 years before that.

When I semi-retired I started trying to clean and donate things but the knives have me stumped. And the art prints are famous Chinese Girl and Miss Wong prints by Tretchikoff. Chinese Girl appeared frequently in the background in movies and television including Monty Python and an Alfred Hitchcock movie. The prints are well framed and are probably worth $100-250 each. I'll donate the knife set and will secure the knives in the block with large masking tape which is easier to remove. I'll see if I can get the prints to an antique shop on consignment.
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Old 10-24-2016, 11:03 AM   #17
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Excellent!
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Old 10-24-2016, 12:31 PM   #18
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Old 10-26-2016, 11:58 PM   #19
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I agree with you on the best course of action is to get rid of it and have less stuff. WE just started our downsizing. Two things came to mind - I wish our parents would have downsized and we're downsizing for our kids. Our parents have not passed, but it's late in their life and we're all looking at each other wondering what to do with all their stuff. Our downsizing has helped us learn about donating, selling and discarding things.

However, if you want to keep something - like the picture, look into an ozone generator. You could put the picture in a small room and run the ozone machine and it will fix the problem. However, be very careful using an ozone machine. They deplete oxygen and can be harmful if used improperly. Insurance companies use them all the time for smoke damage in houses.
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Old 10-27-2016, 03:03 AM   #20
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No. I've had this stuff in storage and in the basement for years. My parents were heavy smokers until the early 90s. My mom passed away in 2002 from lung cancer, my dad in 2009 from COPD and heart failure even though he hadnMt smoked in 17 years. This stuff has had no tobacco exposure since 2001 and minimal exposure for 10 years before that.

When I semi-retired I started trying to clean and donate things but the knives have me stumped. And the art prints are famous Chinese Girl and Miss Wong prints by Tretchikoff. Chinese Girl appeared frequently in the background in movies and television including Monty Python and an Alfred Hitchcock movie. The prints are well framed and are probably worth $100-250 each. I'll donate the knife set and will secure the knives in the block with large masking tape which is easier to remove. I'll see if I can get the prints to an antique shop on consignment.
I believe the earlier poster advised putting tape on the edge of the knife, not securing the knives to the block. Run some packing or masking take along the edge of each knife and fold over the sides of the blade. That way, the individual knife won't cut you (unless you force/saw with the blade). It seems counterintuitive, but it works. Most Thrift stores use clear tape when storing and exhibiting knives.
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