Tried and true ways to remove a musty smell

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Post Tue, Nov 23 2021, 6:07 am
We have a storage area that has no outside walls or windows. It is really musty smelling. All the clothes stored there have a very strong musty odor. There is no leak or mold. It's purely lack of ventilation.
I've heard of putting baking soda or vinegar but I want some ideas of something ppl have tried with success.
Someone mentioned there might be something to buy that absorbs the smell?
Any suggestions?
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Post Tue, Nov 23 2021, 6:26 am
Vinegar in the washing machine in addition to regular detergent
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Post Tue, Nov 23 2021, 6:27 am
abound wrote:
Vinegar in the washing machine in addition to regular detergent

Not to remove the smell from the clothes. But from the room. Sorry if I wasn't clear.
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Post Tue, Nov 23 2021, 6:30 am
Damp Rid.

It comes in a tub and you leave it there and change it every couple of months.
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Post Tue, Nov 23 2021, 8:38 am
I don't believe Damp Rid will remove a moldy smell; it dehumidifies the space to prevent mold growth but won't remove an odor that's already there.

Once odor has taken up housekeeping in your clothes and closet, the process of deodorizing is time consuming and cumbersome, but doable. Most people recommend Febreze, but I'm not impressed. Despite claims, I don't believe it removes the odor ; I think it just covers it up. It also doesn't remove the source of the odor. Speaking from experience here.

To remove the odor:
1. Take everything out of the space. Everything. Hang up the clothes in a place with good airflow. On a screened-in porch if you have one is best. In front of an open window is good. Near a circulating fan is also good. Sunlight helps but keep in mind that sunlight fades fabrics. Let the clothes air out for as long as it takes to dissipate the odor. This can be days to weeks. If the clothes are not harmed by contact with water, you can spray with a light mist of vinegar. Test first on a hidden area to make sure it won't stain.

If the clothes are washable, it may be more convenient to simply wash them, adding plain white vinegar to the rinse water instead of fabric softener.

If several weeks go by and the clothes still offend, or if you have nowhere to air them out, consider dry-cleaning them. If you do dry-clean, you'll still need to air them out for a couple of days to let the dry-cleaning solvent dissipate.

2. Wipe down all surfaces of the space itself with plain white vinegar. If you like, add some essential oil for a pleasant fragrance and to discourage mildew. Oils of lavender, tea tree, thyme, citronella, clove, peppermint, cedarwood and eucalyptus all have antifungal properties. If the surfaces are rough, like exposed brick or raw wood, spray with vinegar so it gets into the crevices. Ventilate the space by placing a circulating fan as close to the entry as possible and let it run for an hour or more. Just leaving the door open won't do it. Allow time for the surfaces to get bone dry. You don't want to put anything in there if there's even a hint of moisture left.

3. Once surfaces are dry, consider painting them with a paint containing mold-retardant. This isn't strictly necessary, but a coat of paint will seal away any odor-causing organisms.

4. Replace the dry and deodorized clothing.

Leave the storage space door open as much as possible. Every so often, on a rotating basis, remove and air some of the contents of the space. It's more important to take out the items that are stored deepest in the space, because they get the least air. You also need to occasionally remove everything and let the space itself air out for at least a few hours. If you fail to ventilate the space now and then, the problem will recur. Your stuff needs to breathe.

Unfortunately, sometimes the problem is so entrenched that nothing removes the odor. I have no idea why, but I can tell you that someone once gave me a set of bedsheets that looked perfectly clean but reeked of that "shut-up-in-a-stifling-closet-for-25-years" smell.Nothing I tried worked and I ultimately got rid of them.

Oh, one more thing: if you have things in cardboard cartons, replace the cartons with new ones that don't smell.
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