Dear Heloise:

In a recent column, you mentioned that one of your associates had a trunk with a foul odor. Several years ago, I was lucky enough to obtain a very large trunk that was big enough to hold most of my quilts, blankets and afghans. It was in rough shape.

The first thing I did was remove all of the old paper lining and scrub it out, then air-dry it in the sun. I relined it with wallpaper and filled it up with my bedcovers. I was so proud of it until I went to get a quilt out of it. YUCK! It smelled awful. I tried several remedies, with no luck. I finally did have success with the following:

Take several small margarine tubs and punch holes in the lids with a paper punch. Fill the tubs with washing soda, put the lids on and place the tubs in the trunk. I even left the quilts in the trunk and placed the tubs among them, too. After several weeks, the odor was gone.

Peggy, via e-mail

Washing soda is a great odor-absorber. It is sodium carbonate, while baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Washing soda is caustic/alkaline and can be used as a household cleaner and detergent booster. When using washing soda, follow the directions on the box for washing or cleaning instructions.

Baking soda is not caustic, is ingestible and is a household cleaner and deodorizer.

The two are not interchangeable, except for some cleaning uses.

Dear Heloise:

About the musty-smelling piece of furniture: Place pie plates or flat bowls of baking soda in the drawers underneath, on top and on the floor surrounding it. Leave for a week. I have done this to remove the mustiness from an old trunk. Don't use any oil or wax on the piece until after the mustiness is gone. Oil will only seal in the offensive odor.

Cathy Pavlak, Reston

Baking soda is a good deodorizer. To make baking soda easier to dispense, put it in a shaker-top container.

Baking soda can be used to deodorize carpets. Just sprinkle some on, let it sit for 10 minutes or so and then simply vacuum up.

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(c)2004, King Features Syndicate