Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stinky Buttons? No More!

I love vintage buttons.  Actually, I love just about anything vintage.  But buttons are one of those fabulous little things that always make me wonder how these used to fit in someone's life.  Were they once on a shirt, or bought because they matched a bit of fabric just waiting for the perfect dress pattern?  Well, whatever the reason, I love them. 

When I was home over Christmas, my mom and I decided to go on a treasure hunt through a bunch of old canisters and bins full of buttons from my great grandmas.  Some of them were still attached to their original packages, and others were hanging loose. 

Now, here is the problem with vintage buttons....they usually smell!!  We all know the musty old smell of most things vintage, but how do you get it out?  Do you pass up that fabulous set of pink shank buttons because they smell horrible?  Of Course Not!!! 

Mom taught me this great little secret and I thought it was well worth sharing.  As I sat there with my button treasures she disappeared and immerged with a box of denture cleaning tablets.  So, we put the buttons in teacups and bowls (don't put in too many, make sure there is room to agitate them), added water, dropped in a denture tablet, agitated them a little, and waited.  After the fizzyness of the denture tablets dissipated, we rinsed them well and laid them on a towel to dry.  And...Voila!!!!  Dry buttons that no longer stink! 

I do warn however, that not all buttons may react favorably to this type of cleaning.  We put one in that had some metal and paint on it and the paint started chipping off.  So, decide carefully if the chance of losing a few buttons is worth making a whole bunch of them more useful!

Do you have any great secrets to dealing with vintage materials?


  1. I have tons of smelly vintage buttons! This is a great idea and I'm definitely going to try it once I unpack all my crafting stuff!

  2. I hope that it helps make your button collection more useful. There are so many great things to do with vintage buttons. They are so unique!

  3. Your mom is so smart. The smell has never bothered me, but for a long time, I've stored mine in old apothecary jars that belonged to Larry's mom (he thinks probably from the 60's). Yesterday I came across some more adn had a new idea. We have the Lefferts' antique secretary with lots of clear class inside, and things just kind of blend into the dark background. I put buttons in our two champagne glasses from our wedding. Just gives a little color and makes the glasses stand out.