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How to get rid of musty smells in wardrobes, cupboards and furniture

No one likes musty smells, especially when they're in our home. We're all familiar with that musty smell on clothes that didn't dry properly, but wardrobes, cupboards and even upholstered furniture emit a "dank" or unfresh odor. Fortunately, there are ways to get rid of musty smells in your home permanently. Here's how. 

Main causes of musty smells

If you're noticing a humid, damp or musty smell in a wardrobe, closet or cupboard, it could indicate the presence of mold. Either way, you'll want to figure out what's causing the musty smell so that you can get rid of it once and for all. 

In a home there are three common causes of mold growth, which is behind that unpleasant musty odor. These include: 

Water infiltration or plumbing leak

Water leaks aren't always easy to detect. You might not even notice the problem for days, weeks or months - giving mold ample time to take hold and start emitting that telltale musty smell.

Excess humidity

Musty smells in wardrobes, cupboards or furniture may also be due to excess humidity in your home. Always keep the relative humidity between 30% and 50%. Any lower is too dry to be comfortable and any higher promotes the growth of mold and mildew.

Poor ventilation

Poor ventilation can also cause mold and musty smells - especially in enclosed spaces such as unventilated bathrooms or basements with doors and windows kept shut at all times. Eventually, mold will start to grow and emit a strong "dank" or musty smell. 

How to get rid of musty smells in a wardrobe

Once you've figured out what's causing the problem, you can attack the source of the odor directly. Here's how to eliminate musty smells in a wardrobe. (Note: This technique works best on a wardrobe with a varnished wood exterior and untreated wood interior.)

Step 1: Clean the exterior

We recommend using Purodora Damp Odor Neutralizer because it's a water-based product and won't damage varnished wood. Dilute 120 ml of the product in 4 L of warm water and spray directly on the surface. Leave on for few minutes and wipe dry with a cloth. No need to rinse. 

Step 2: Clean the interior

For the inside of the wardrobe, use Purodora Smoke Odor Neutralizer for Fabrics. Don't let the name fool you; it also works like a charm on musty smells in raw or untreated wood. No diluting required; simply spray the wood and allow to air dry. Because this product is alcohol-based, it evaporates quickly and won't cause untreated wood to swell. 

Eliminating musty smells from upholstered furniture

Upholstered furniture such as fabric couches, chair and cushions can also develop a musty smell - especially if they're sitting in a basement. 

Again, we recommend our alcohol-based Smoke Odor Neutralizer for Fabrics to get rid of musty smells in upholstered furniture. Because it evaporates quickly, it can be applied liberally to fabrics without risk of making the mildew/mold problem worse (which can be the case with water-based products, which take longer to dry).

Simply spray the entire affected area and allow to air dry. No need to rinse. If the odor is embedded deep in the fabric, you can inject the product directly into the cushion or filling with a syringe. The product will eliminate the odor on contact and evaporate quickly to leave both fabric and filling fry. Note that the alcohol in this product will not damage or discolor fabrics.

Eliminate musty smells in a cupboard or closet

Got a closet or cupboard that also smells musty? Again, you'll want to get to the root of the problem. Otherwise the odor will just keep returning.

If the damp smell is due to a water leak behind the walls, you'll have to open up the wall, remove the wet insulation and spray the wood joists with Damp Odor Neutralizer. Make sure the musty smell is completely gone before closing up the walls.

Tip: All Purodora Odor Neutralizers need to come into contact with all of the odor source to eliminate the odor completely. If you still detect the unwanted odor after the first spray, don't worry. It just means you missed some of the odor source. Respray the product over a slightly larger area and check again. It's rare that third treatment is needed. 

If the cupboard or closet is in a humid room, you'll also need to address the humidity problem - either by running a dehumidifier or with some other measure. 

Do other solutions for getting rid of musty smells really work?

Google "get rid of musty smells" and you'll get all sorts of suggestions, such as using: 

  • baking soda
  • activated charcoal
  • coffee
  • white vinegar
  • lemons
  • salt
  • air fresheners
  • essential oils
  • soaps

These approaches will offer varying degrees of effectiveness, but none are proven to eliminate damp or musty smells completely. Purodora products are based on extensive laboratory research and use proven molecular technology to neutralize odors. Plain and simple, they work. Which is why we recommend them.

No more musty smells at home!

To recap, to get rid of musty smells in wardrobes, closets or upholstered furniture: 

  1. Figure out what's causing the smell.
  2. Correct the larger source of the problem (if applicable).
  3. Use the right products to get rid of the smell.

Want to make sure musty smells never return? 

  • Inspect your home's exterior on a regular basis (roof, gutters, drainage system)
  • Keep the relatively humidity inside your home between 30% and 50%
  • Ensure your home has properly ventilation
  • Keep heating, air conditioning and ventilation system equipment in good working order

These preventive steps will help keep musty smells and mold away from your home.

Want more tips on how to keep a home smelling fresh and clean? Check out our other articles: 

Here's to your home smelling fresh and clean again!