How to Remove Musty Smells from a Safe


Kathy asked: How do I get the musty smell out of a safe? Our home safe seems to absorb moisture. Anything stored in it gets musty smelling. I have put in the moisture absorbing packets, and it does not seem to help. How do I eliminate this odor?

If moisture is entering your safe, it first needs to be checked by a professional for any damage. Once you are sure there are no leaks or areas of weakness, you can tackle the moisture and odors inside. There are products designed to absorb moisture in sealed spaces, such as a safe. There are also a variety of things that can be used to absorb and remove the odors.

Removing the Moisture

You Will Need:

Steps to Remove the Moisture:

If the source of the moisture is not cannot be found, you try to absorb it.

There are several options available. The easiest is a can of silica gel (This is the same product that is found in the small packets used to keep moisture out of boxes and purses/bags.) There are a variety of merchants who sell dessicant or silica gel. Ensure that you have a large enough canister for the space you are trying to protect. Dessicant can be purchased online or from many craft stores.

Many of them come with indicators that change color as the product absorbs moisture. Once the color has changed, simply place it in a low-heat oven for a couple of hours to dry it out again. It can be reused again and again. Another option is DampRid. There are a variety of products in this line as well. Find the one best suited for your situation. DampRid can be purchased online or at hardware and home improvement stores.

Removing the Musty Smell

You Will Need:

  • Coffee grounds
  • Vinegar
  • Small dish(es)

Steps to Remove the Musty Smell:

First, remove the moisture with one of the steps in the previous section, then you can effectively remove the odor without it returning.

  1. Fill a small bowl with fresh coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are excellent at removing odors.
  2. Place it in the safe and close the door.
  3. Keep it there until the odors are removed, longer if desired.
  4. Replace the coffee grounds as necessary.
  5. Other odor removers include vinegar, baking soda and oranges. Again, place them in a small dish (baking soda can be left in the box, opened) and set it in the safe. Remove and replace as needed.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If papers are damp or show any signs of mildew, place them in direct sunlight for several hours until they are dry again. Do not leave them in the sun once they are dry or the print may fade.
  • Air purifiers that put out ozone are also helpful in removing odors. Treating the papers with ozone is an effective way to remove odors as well.
  • If the moisture is not removed from the safe, the smell will persist, no matter how many odor absorbers are present. It is important to treat the source of the problem first.
  • Musty safes are not uncommon and moisture is not a definite sign of a problem with the safe. However, if excessive moisture is accumulating, it should be checked out by a professional.
  • A common mistake is using too little of a moisture absorbing product which does not allow it to effectively remove the moisture. Ensure the size of the product is adequate for the size of your safe.
  • These same moisture removal techniques can be used in closets, storage rooms, attics, etc

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