I recently won a box of original pre-recorded cassettes of an undisclosed quantity (in excess of 100) on eBay(UK) - so far so good. However, when the poorly packed box arrived I opened it to be greeted by an obnoxious whiff of biblical proportions - I jest not. Dear me, I recoiled at the nicotine stench as it was all too overwhelming for my delicate self so took the box outside straight away as I do not possess a bio hazard handling suit fit for handling materials contaminated to this extent. I stuck my chin out, stiffened my upper lip and emptied the box contents onto my patio and now wished I'd had enough sense to cover my hands with latex gloves as every cassette case was sticky with a thick coating of nicotine. The further I delved into the box, the more sticky and dirty orange coloured the cassette cases were, a very unpleasant experience indeed! I opened every cassette case to air them as best as I could and left them all outside for the remainder of the day to de-stink whilst the box went straight into the bin.
I could have (or maybe should have) returned them because I didn't pay for the smell and it didn't even form part of the item description - this was a freebie I didn't want and hadn't paid for. I decided to roll up my sleeves to de-whiff the cassettes as best as I could and see if what I could to salvage whatever I could then add them to my collection which was far easier said than done:
Tapes & paper inserts were duly removed form each case front which was separated from it's back for a wash in the bath tub but this only made the slightest of difference so each case part then spent two days soaking in bleach prior to a second wash & scrub. Nope, not much difference here either so then they were all soaked in disinfectant for a further two days prior to washing & scrubbing once more. Now we're getting somewhere! The whiff was now much reduced but still present and a spray of fabric freshener followed by a wipe made for a 99% success rate. I had no choice but to clean all the cassettes and paper inserts with damp cloth soaked in disinfectant achieving a high success rate then a spray with my ol' friend the fabric conditioner finished off the job as much as possible. Once the cases were re-assembled and the paper inserts & cassettes were returned to the cases a close up, very personal like, sniff test proved almost all the whiff had now been removed which made me a happy at long last. I've now placed all the cassettes into closed boxes for another sniff test in a week or so and will remedy any problems then.
A few words of caution if any of you ever find yourself going down this route:
Prior to separating the cases, sort them into batches of case style/design first. When I came to re-assemble the front and back casings I was surprised to find how many different styles, designs and attachment parts there were despite so many of them looking the same with a casual glance. The male and female part of the case hinges are of many different sizes as were the locking pins and slide provision for fitting the parts together. The angles (or square corners/rectangular 'flap') on the rear of the cases where the front and back parts meet are not all the same, some rear case parts have no spool holders (used with clear cases allowing for more information to be printed on the paper insert) and some have a thinner internal measurement that make it difficult to insert a cassette with a thicker paper insert. As I was dealing with 100+ cases it was a bit of a nightmare matching up the parts after cleaning, this alone took about 4 hours.
With regard to dry all the constituent parts that had to be dried and aired off, this was a real pain in the ol' proverbial as I was dealing with 100+ rear casings + 100+ front casings + 100+ cassettes + 100+ paper inserts and this little lot needs plenty of space, a very well ventilated Boom Room floor along with the surface area of all of the music centre lids provided all the space I need. All in all the whole operation took over a week and about two days of wiping, cleaning and reassembling which did not impress me one iota.
From the cassette seller's perspective: "I'll shift this with an 'economic description' ".
From my perspective: Ask questions about the item next time, yer daft tw@t!