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How to Remove a Musty Smell from a Closet

Closets sometimes hold more than clothes, storage boxes, or other miscellaneous goods. Inside the dark, inadequately ventilated closet space, mold and mildew can also thrive—leading to musty odors. Fortunately, musty smells can be eliminated with any of the following solutions.

Why do closets smell musty?

Air circulation is limited inside closets. Humidity levels can be high inside the closet space, also. Humidity, darkness, and an organic food source, like clothing or linens, create an ideal environment for mold colonies to grow. As a result, mold and mildew flourish in the closet and cause odors.

Unwashed clothing is also problematic, leading to humid conditions and subsequent mold growth inside the closet. Some people throw damp t-shirts or shorts into the back of the closet without hesitation. The moisture source nourishes mold spores. Musty smells in the closet are the result.

Even clean clothes tightly packed away inside a closet, such as seasonal wear, can lead to musty odors. Around these clothing items, little air circulation is permitted. Consequently, odor-causing bacteria can grow. Clearing out the closet regularly is one way to combat musty odors.

Follow these cleaning steps

1. Empty the Closet

The first step in eliminating unwanted odors from the closet is to clear it out. Remove all clothing items, footwear, boxes, and linens. Wash and completely dry washable items. A bare closet is necessary before moving onto the next step, which requires access to all crevices within the closet space.

2. Sweep or Vacuum the Closet

If the closet features a wooden floor, sweep the floor clean. Pay attention to dirt and grime embedded in the closet corners. If the closet is carpeted, sprinkle odor-absorbing baking soda, allow the particles to sit for several minutes, then vacuum the carpeting.

3. Wipe Down the Closet

Use a household cleaner and a damp rag to wipe down the walls and all surfaces within the closet. An alternative to a store-bought cleaning product is a homemade solution of vinegar and water. Add a few drops of essential oils to the solution to introduce a desirable scent.

All parts of the closet should be wiped down from top to bottom, including the baseboards, hanger rods, and drawer knobs. Wipe down any wallpaper lining the closet walls, but be careful to wring out the damp rag to prevent leaving moisture behind.

4. Run a Fan

Completely dry out the closet. Any remaining moisture from the cleaning could cause mold and mildew to grow. Set up fans in front of the closet, making sure the air blows directly into the closet. Run the fans for 24 hours to increase airflow and air out the closet space.

Once cleaned and fully dry, the closet will lose its musty odors. The items removed from the closet may, at this point, be returned to the closet. While purging and cleaning the closet regularly is helpful to keep odors at bay, the following prevention tips will keep the closet odor-free.

1. Avoid Storing Damp Items

The closet is a convenient place to toss items and forget about them. This practice, though, can lead to odor issues. Take care to avoid throwing damp clothing items, towels, linens, or other wet materials into the closet. Mold will latch on within as little as 24 to 48 hours.

2. Store Clean Clothes

Before storing clothing items inside the closet, make sure they are laundered. Even after the clothes are washed, small food crumbs can remain inside the pockets of clothing. Similarly, check for used tissues or napkins in the pockets. Crumbs and tissues can attract bacteria.

3. Run the A/C

An air conditioner can run through large, walk-in closets and increase air circulation. When cooling the closet interior, be mindful of delicate goods, such as leather, electronics, or other sensitive products. An alternative to running an A/C is to install an exhaust fan.

4. Add Insulation

Temperature swings, especially those when the outdoor and interior temperatures do not match, can lead to a buildup of condensation inside the closet. Adding insulation to the closet ceiling is an effective remedy, as it works to reduce temperature differences and the resulting moisture buildup.

5. Check for Leaks

Minor water leaks inside the closet walls or ceiling will attract mold spores. Routinely examine the closet, looking for water stains or feeling for moist spots. A wallpapered closet with water damage will have brown water stains. Fix water leaks as soon as possible to avoid major issues later.

6. Create Vents

As mentioned, the typical closet lacks adequate ventilation. The solution is to add vents, holes or slats to the closet doors, which promotes air circulation inside the closet. Humidity will have little chance of forming; mold will not grow; and, musty odors will not develop.

Professional Mold Removal Services

Mold problems occur where moisture issues are prevalent. When you stumble upon a mold infestation inside your home or business, contact the mold removal experts at ServiceMaster Cleaning and Restoration. Our quality services will eliminate all traces of mold from your property.

Our efficient mold removal service starts with an assessment of mold growth. Experienced mold cleanup technicians isolate the affected areas and safely remove the mold spores. We also remove permanently damaged building materials and clean what can be salvaged.

A core part of our service is to fix the moisture problem at its source. We are skilled in all aspects of water damage restoration. Skilled technicians extract all excess moisture and dry the property using advanced machinery. We complete the process with sanitization and deodorization of the property.

Available 24/7

Water damage and mold growth are closely linked. ServiceMaster Cleaning and Restoration offers comprehensive services for home and business owners, so both issues may be repaired. Our technicians are available 24 hours a day to respond to emergencies in the Quincy, IL area.

 Call us at (217) 262-9044 for fast, expert service.