My boyfriend's mom had a lot of stuff.
Most of it, we couldn't use, so we're donating and selling it. But we could use some of it, and some things have a sentimental value, so we're having to totally reorganize our little home to accommodate the things we're bringing in. I'm also having to clean everything several times, which is taking a lot more time and energy than I expected it to.
The thing is, a lot of her stuff has a smell to it.
The woman was into her air fresheners and perfumes and fabric softener, everything strongly scented. She also had two dogs that occasionally peed on things. I'm sure the two are related, though whether she used all that scent to mask the pee-smell or the dogs peed on stuff to show their dislike of all the damn fragrance in the air, we'll never know.
I've baking soda soaked, vinegar sprayed and left things outside for a week now, and I've beat the scent back, for the most part.
If we had more sun out here, I'd really be cooking, but the towering redwoods block most of it out, and unless I'm willing to chase patches of sunlight around the property, I'm not going to get a lot of UV rays. Leaving clothes outside has been only slightly helpful, as a consequence, and there's a clay pot that's been out there all week and still has an alarming funk.
For clothes, the most reliable method I've tried during this special scented adventure has been to put the clothes in the washer with normal (scent-free) detergent and a cup of baking soda, fill it up with the warmest water safe for the fabrics and let it soak as long as possible, swishing things around every few hours. Then, I run the washer like normal and sniff the end result. If it's still stinky, I do it again, but with detergent and vinegar. And repeat as needed. Some items are going through for the fifth time right now, so it's not a miracle, but I've made most of the clothes we brought home totally scent-free this way, after only a few run-throughs.
For home and kitchen items, the routine was similar: cover with a baking soda paste, or soak in baking soda or scrub it down with baking soda, then do the same with vinegar. There were quite a few plastic kitchen items that had a smell that was more than fragrances, and I just couldn't cope with it, so I donated them. I'm willing to bet someone else will be more than happy to tackle that funk with some commercial cleansers of dubious toxicity.
My kitchen hasn't been totally clean since we got home. I put in cleaning time when I can, but with all the stuff we've brought in, my focus keeps going to the grosser of the things I have to clean. We're getting closer to normal around here, but it's still quite a long road ahead before we'll really have everything settled and done.
So, instead of thinking about the huge tasks that are still before me, I'm focusing on what I can do right now, what is manageable, what is important, and all that I've already accomplished.