September 21, 2011

Getting Smoke Smell Out of a Stuffed Animal; Timing Charity for Better Incentives; Sweets Placement Error

Let's say that I ordered a replacement lovey for Elizabeth on eBay, and that now I vividly understand why sellers are so quick to say so when they are a smoke-free household. Let's further say that this is a LARGE stuffed animal (so that I'm not sure Febreze would get down deep enough) and not machine washable. What would we say I should do in this situation? Right now I have it sitting outside in the sun.

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We give the same annual donation to St. Jude's no matter what, but I always time it so I send a check right after they send us a notepad and a sheet of address labels, because I use those things and want to encourage them to continue that method of trying to get money out of me. I never send them a check right after they send me a sad photo with a sad story, because that makes me go "ACK ACK ACK" and try to put those things in the recycling immediately so I don't accidentally see/read anything, and I DON'T want to encourage them to continue THAT method of trying to get money from me.

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Upon further testing and reflection, the coffee-mug cupboard is not the right place for the stash of sweets. First thing in the morning, I open the cupboard to get a mug and it's "HI, REMEMBER US?? THINK OF US ALL DAY LONG, HOW 'BOUT!"

29 comments:

d e v a n said...

My grandma is a chain smoker and whenever she sends the kids anything I spray it HEAVILY with vinegar and set it outside for a very long time. Like a week or more.
Sometimes I have to repeat, repeat, repeat, but eventually the smell has gone away. I don't know if it will work as well on a big stuffed animal - the biggest we've used it on is a beanie baby.

Alexa said...

I have no opinion on getting the stink out aside from sunning it.

But I would like to say that I love you have the same avoidance solution to sad things about babies. I also avoid reading anything with a dead or ailing child and prefer not to see it in a movie or any other type of literature. I will freak out on people (gently) who recommend something to me without giving me a dead baby warning. Food Inc. for example.
There are enough sad things in real life. I am very empathetic and I don't need any extra sad. Also I have an active imagination and I don't want to imagine any of those situations with my babies.

brzeski said...

Sweets stash suggestion:
Laundry soap cabinet. You don't stumble on that by accident, and when you do open that cabinet, you DESERVE a treat.

Kristen said...

I am a Social Worker who works for a Pediatric Hospice. Sick/Dying kids is what I do for a living. And other than being a mom, it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done.

As a Hospice, we do not make a lot of money. We provide a service that is much needed, and we need to do a LOT of fundraising to be able to do it. But we do not get a lot of donations. Because we do't have a lot of money we can't send out free items with the hopes of getting a donation. And as you have clearly indicated here, people don't want to be bombarded with "sad stories" no matter how true and real they are. Do you (and your readers) have any suggestions for how we can raise funds given this barrier? I'd love any and all suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Put the stuffed animal in the dryer on low with sone fabric softener sheets? And more outside time, for sure. My mom makes quilts that smell like an ashtray, ugh.

Nik-Nak said...

Outside in the sun is pretty much the only way you will get the smoke smell out if you can't wash it. If it were me, I'd probably go all the way as far as getting the water hose and some soap and give that thing an outside bath.

My sweets are currently to my direct right in the top drawer of my desk and it is KILLING ME.

HereWeGoAJen said...

I burned rice in my microwave once and it took me a month to get the smell out. The thing that finally worked was for me to stuff it with newspaper and put it into the garage for a week. Try sticking the stuffed animal into a bag of crumpled up newspaper for a while. And then more airing out.

Slim said...

Would it fit in your dryer so you could air-fluff it for hours? After marinating it in Febreeze?

Pickles and Dimes said...

Will dousing the toy in baking soda help get rid of the odor? Then letting it sit outside for a bit before you shake/beat/pound the baking soda out of it?

I am the same way about charities with the Humane Society. I do not want to read about animals being abused - I just don't. I donate because I love animals. BUT, I don't like getting all the free stuff: tote bags, address labels, etc., that I never use. I would rather be given the option to get that stuff IF I donate rather then getting it first to guilt me into donating. I feel it's such a waste of money for them.

The one thing a local animal shelter did recently that not only made me donate but also made me KEEP their brochure for months because it was so well-done was this: They created a brochure featuring beautiful close-up photos of the animals, and the brochure's "voice" was from the animals' points of view: telling the reader how they were found on a street but now they're living in their forever home, etc., etc.

Sprinkled throughout were random factoids about the success of the shelter (reducing euthanasia rates, reducing the length of time a pet has to stay at the shelter, etc.), but the overarching emphasis was on the pets and getting them into permanent homes. So much more effective (to me) than a bunch of stats about animals suffering.

Jen said...

I would suggest vinegar plus sunshine as well. Or there was a thing I looked up for cat pee when our cat accidentally shut the door to her litter box while we were out of town. It was peroxide mixed with dish soap and baking soda and water (it didn't bleach out our rug at all but you might want to do a test spot). I can't remember the ratios but all I did was google cat pee smell or something like that. Or what about putting it in a big bag filled with some rice after it is dampened with vinegar or such...thinking that the rice leaches out moisture and would take the smell with it? Good luck!

Joanne said...

I just read about baking soda and sun. I think I'd put it in a pillowcase and shake it up with baking soda and then sun it for a few days, and then beat it out of it. I don't like sad stories about animals or babies, I do try to use the addresse labels whenever I get them, for advertising. I buy Halloween costumes from St Jude because I read about them here, though!

Alice said...

after the Cat Pee In The Car debacle of 2010, i covered the whole (fabric) seat with baking soda - really caked it on there - and then mixed vinegar with water and sprayed everything until it was thoroughly soaked. that + sun would be really effective, i'd think!

liz said...

If the above tricks don't work, bring it to a dry cleaner and ask for their opinion.

As a last resort, you can always open a seam, remove the stuffing, hand wash the outside as you would for a sweater or lingerie, and then re-stuff with new fluff.

liz said...

Kristen, ask a local printer if they would be willing to donate items like stickers or notepads for a mailing.

Also, ask among your current donors if there are any folks who would be willing to donate items to send in a mailing. Some business people find it easier to do in-kinds vs. cash.

Amy from Occupation: Mommy said...

I always machine wash stuffed animals that are not machine washable. I figure that if I don't wash it, I'm going to throw it out anyway, so I might as well try. It has never turned out badly.

I have even machine washed a Build-a-Bear that had a run-in with a stomach virus.

Of course, if the animal doesn't fit in the washing machine, I don't know.

Elsha said...

I always get those address labels, but I never use them because inevitably our name is spelled wrong. (Mostly our last name, but sometimes they mess up my first name too.) I figure as soon as somebody sends me some address labels where my whole name is correct, including capitalization and spaces in the last name, I'll donate to them.

Kelsey said...

I have that avoidance things with some of the emails my dad forwards to me, as well as with that "Christmas Shoes" song... There are times when I'm just not in the market for feeling devastated.

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I wish I could help with the smoke smell... my parents are both smokers, so you'd think we'd have more experience w/ this. But they've taken to only smoking outside their home so we don't have too much trouble w/ things that come from them. But it is difficult to be in their cars sometimes... I think time might help more than you'd guess. But I also like the douse w/ Fabreeze and air fluff idea.

StephLove said...

A long time ago, we got a second-hand futon couch from our landlady, who was a smoker. I unzipped the cover and sprinkled baking soda in between the cover and the futon and then I spread a thick layer of baking soda all over the outside and vacuumed it up after a few days. (I let the contained baking soda sit much longer, months maybe.) The smell did eventually come out.

I have found sunlight works well on non-washable toys that have been peed or vomited on, as well.

Jessica said...

I bought a big lot of clothes for my son on eBay last week. I won at a cheap price and suddenly panicked because the listing didn't say smoke-free home. They arrived yesterday, though, and were in perfect condition.
When I do get stinky hand-me-downs, I wash them with a few drops of blue Dawn soap. It releases the oils on the clothes. It won't completely get rid of smoke, but I think sunning when wet is even more effective than sunning dry, so maybe a combination of Dawn/sun?

Bunnyslippers said...

Can you ask them to take you off their brochure list? I did it for doctors without borders and they were happy to comply--brochures are expensive and if they know you are a willing donor (or a willing donor that likes notepads) they might be willing to alter the way they contact you.

Rebecca said...

Kristen--

What an amazingly worthy cause. Thank you for what you do. I have great respect for Hospice workers, especially as I know how much comfort they bring to families in need. I also know that I could not do the job, so I am thankful there are people like you.

I suggest that one of the best ways to get the word out about your organization (and it would be cheap, too) is to have the local news station or newspaper run a feature on your organization every so often. Maybe if you contact someone at the paper, you could have one of the local columnists write about it. We live in the DC area, and one of the Post's weekly columnists writes about Children's National Hospital every year. He is one of the main reasons we donated there last year.

I know this is a bit hard, because you have to make a strong personal connection with the columnist...but it might be worth the time to try. Good luck, and thank you again.

Rebecca

lifeofadoctorswife said...

Yes, the sweets thing! It is always a trick to put them in just the right spot, where you'll encounter them occasionally, but seldom enough that you often forget you have them. Then you get a pleasant little jolt of "oh, hello there!" when you come across them by accident.

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

I'm there with you on the donation tactics. The moment we get the sad story envelopes, I put those in the recycling right away too. I also turn the channel when they start showing starving children or abused dogs. Can. Not. Handle. I wonder if they work on anyone?

Sara said...

Please keep us posted on what works re the smoke smell. Both my parents smoke and I have rules regarding what toys the kids can take when they visit. :( What I have found works better than febreze is Lysol fabric mist, which supposedly kills the bacteria on soft surfaces as well.
I also know a lot of moms who throw the stuffed animals in the wash regardless. But my hubby has a story of where his mom did that to his little lion and the mane became an afro! LOL!!!!!!!
Oh, and I have to laugh with regards to setting it in the sun. I think it helps, but years ago I was looking online for tips to get musty smells out of an old trunk from my MIL. I came across an article that advised to set it outside because "think of what they do at nursing homes--they set all the old people outside to air out." So crass, but funny!!!

Marla said...

Ordered some ragged raggedy annes from ebay. They needed a new home. When I opened the box, the cigarette smoke (smell) wafted out like she'd just blown it in my face. I had no idea how important that "non-smoking" tag could be. I grew up in smoking home. I guess I have so forgotten what it could be like. The raggedys have cleared - just from sitting around. Poor things!

Megan said...

I bought some horribly smokey (and just plain smelly) stuff at a garage sale - thought it would just air out. It didn't. I sprinkled baking soda on it, and let it sit for a while before I vacuumed it off. Then I used a vinegar/water mix and used a rag to blot it on. Then I left everything outside for a while longer. The vinegar smell was stronger then the smoke for awhile, but gradually all the stink faded. Good luck!!!

Sam said...

When Chicken used to visit his father in another state, he would come home smelling like a cigarette. MY CHILD AND ALL HIS LUGGAGE. I hope there is a God + hell just for that man. Otherwise, meh.

Anonymous said...

@ Kristen,

What about contacting a local radio to do a story on you guys? Local radio (especially the themed talk shows) are often looking for content for their segments. You might fit well into a show that focuses on "family issues" or whatever. It would be a great way to get your hospice into the community's minds. You could maybe even see if there's a family who has benefited from your services to come on with you for the interview and discuss it, if they are up to it. And approaching radio stations is free, so it's not too much outlay for you to try it, even if they say no.

Good luck. What you do is amazing!

Anonymous said...

For the smokey lovey- vacuuming really helps.