How to Get Rid of a Musty Smell in Cupboards

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Cupboards can develop a musty smell over time. This is usually caused by a lack of air flow that can contribute to the growth of mold and bacteria. Dampness and dust can also create a musty odor in cupboards, which can make your clothes or linens smell and if left untreated, can grow until it fills the entire room and eventually your home.

How to Get Rid of a Musty Smell in Cupboards
(Elizabeth Kraft/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

Empty the cupboards of all the contents. Put your clothes or dishes somewhere out of the way.

Elizabeth Kraft/Demand Media

Remove any shelf paper and throw it away. Wipe any dust off of the shelves with a damp cloth or paper towel.

Elizabeth Kraft/Demand Media

Mix a mild solution of bleach and water, dip a sponge into the solution and wipe off the shelves. Dry with paper towels or a rag. Alternatively, you substitute a half a cup of baking soda for the bleach.

Elizabeth Kraft/Demand Media

Leave the cupboard doors ajar for several hours to air them out.

Elizabeth Kraft/Demand Media

Line the cupboard shelves with shelf liner. Trim the edges of the paper if necessary. Reassemble the contents of the cupboards. Place an open container of baking powder in the cupboard, if it is used to store dishes, otherwise put a sachet on one of the shelves to prevent the musty smell from returning.

Elizabeth Kraft/Demand Media

Put down bug traps. Dead bugs can contribute to unpleasant odors.

Elizabeth Kraft/Demand Media

Tips & Warnings

  • If you use the cupboards to store clothes, wash them before putting them back to get the musty odor out of them. Likewise, if you store dishes in the cupboard, wash the dust off of them before putting them back.
  • If the musty odor returns, contact a health official to check for black mold, which can cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals.


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