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How to get rid of a musty smell in cupboards

Updated April 17, 2017

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 mould and bacteria. Dampness and dust can also create a musty odour 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.

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

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

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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.

  6. Put down bug traps. Dead bugs can contribute to unpleasant odours.

  7. Tip

    If you use the cupboards to store clothes, wash them before putting them back to get the musty odour out of them. Likewise, if you store dishes in the cupboard, wash the dust off of them before putting them back.


    If the musty odour returns, contact a health official to check for black mould, which can cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals.

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Things You'll Need

  • Bleach
  • Sponge
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Shelf liners
  • Insect traps

About the Author

Eliana Kalsky is a freelance writer currently living in Manhattan. After earning her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in London, England, she began writing as a career after moving to Miami in 2001. She has published a number of travel articles for both American and British publications.

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