Old postcards - remove smell

I recently acquired some vintage postcards that smell musty. Other than that and the backs being slightly yellowed, they are in great shape.

How can I get rid of the musty smell?

sun dry them


Air them out. Use clothes pegs or paperclips to hang them from a string somewhere outdoors in the wind but where they won’t get rained on.

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You can use baking soda (bicarbonate of soda, sodium bicarbonate). Put the cards in a box with a small open container of baking soda. Put the lid on the box and leave for however long it takes.

You can deodorise a refrigerator in the same way :grinning:

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I’ve never tried this, but maybe layer some dryer sheets between them and let them hang out in a box for a few hours to a day.

You can also use activated charcoal, or even grilling charcoal, to remove odors or moisture from paper items. You’d probably use it similarly to the way you’d use baking soda. (Apparently, activated charcoal is very porous and thus readily absorbs moisture and odors).

Hi Postcrossers, I don’t know if you have encountered this as well. I like to collect old postcards but I notice they sometimes do have a smell. I have some postcards that I’ve collected that I’m trying to “air” out by putting it outside in the sun, but I’m not sure if there are other ways to get out the smell.

Does anyone have any tips on getting out the smell from old postcards?

I don’t know specifically about postcards, but baking soda is great at absorbing odors in general.

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I used Talcum Powder on mine. Then left them out in the air too and wiped them with a soft cloth.

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You can maybe put them in a container with activated charcoal, which absorbs odors. You can buy it at hardware stores and pet supply stores.

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Would that dirty the postcards or maybe I don’t put it on top of it directly?

I think they’re phasing out talcum powder where I live (something to do with Johnson and Johnson) but I don’t know all the details. I’ll see if there are still some around.

Remodeez No Scent Deodorizer 0.25 lb Solid - Ace Hardware

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Cool, thank you! I think I will divide up my postcards and try different methods, but this looks like a good option.

My neighbour had a problem with old photos she was given and just now told me, she put them in a box with a wad of cotton wool soaked in essential Lavender oil but she made sure the cotton wool did not touch the photos. Then she put the lid on the box and left it for a week and she thinks it worked a treat.
That is just an idea passed on. I never tried this myself.

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Please thank your neighbour for me! I will also give this a try.

Here’s another topic discussing this

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I learned about something called “Gonzo Odor Eliminator Rocks” but one withtout perfium and additional chemicals. I will try it on my vintive cards album that I just bought and it also doesn’t smell well.