Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: How to Rid an Artificial Plant of Strange Odour

By Reena Nerbas

Dear Reena,

I read your column in our paper and quite enjoy it. I bought an artificial plant, with grass-like plumes a few months ago. This plant has a very strange and disgusting odor. I didn’t notice it at first but some days it is quite un-bearable. Is there anything I can do to get rid of the odor? I put it on my deck during the day hoping to air it out, but it doesn’t seem to help. The plant I bought is made of artificial materials like plastics. My son says it smell like dog pee. My sister-in-law, who works at a gift shop, says that a lot of their products have similar smells. She likens the smell to a “mouse” smell. I have sprayed it with Febreze, which is only a temporary fix. Georgia

Dear Georgia,

It makes sense that the plant is made of plastic because artificial silk plants are often not silk but rather made from a variety of synthetic materials, and then heat pressed into expertly designed molds. These newer synthetic materials hold shape much better than silk, allowing for a wider range of natural looking leaf and flower designs.

This smelly challenge is similar to that of people who purchase backpacks that carry a strange odor. It sounds to me like the culprit is the dye used to color the plant. The not so good news is that any fragrant spray that you use will only be a temporary fix, the good news is that the smell will minimize over time. If your plant were actually silk instead of synthetic it may still carry an odor in fact some experts say, “Inferior silk gives off a slight smell of chemicals and silkworm pupa, which will become stronger in more humid and warmer environments.”

Since you have observed that the plant is plastic, your best bet is to soak it in the bathtub with a half box of baking soda, water to cover and 3 tbsp. inexpensive shampoo. Soak, rinse and leave outside to dry.

Everyday Answers to Everyday Challenges

  • If you don’t bake a lot, and store baking powder in your cupboard for over a year old, it may not be active. Instead use it in the laundry; it’s a wonderful whitener/brightener. Just dump the old baking powder in a white wash and it brightens up the load. Linda
  • When trying to rid a fridge or freezer of a bad smell, I’ve found nothing works better than kitty litter. My husband forgot minnows in our propane fridge and 3 weeks later “hot summer” it was pretty rank. I used a pan with a flat surface to put the litter on and changed it once a week until there was no more smell, it took the odor away and it never returned. Ms. Kraft
  • When needing to make gravy, I use mushroom or chicken undiluted soup. I pour the soup into the pan with the drippings. This makes instant gravy with no lumps! Ms. Kraft
  • To dry sponges of all kinds, including sponge paint rollers, wrap them in a dishrag (like a jellyroll) and wring out as hard as you can. They will come out almost dry with no damage. This works with exfoliating bath gloves too. Joan

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: Ask a question or share a tip at

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