How can I clean out my closet from smelling like mildew?


I'm stumped! All of a sudden out coat closet smells like mold. We haven't used anything out of it for months since weather has been fine (till now!). There are no signs of water leaks in the ceiling, floor, etc. I've removed all the coats, hung out air out, etc. No idea what might be causing this as there's no way anything could be damp, etc. Any ideas?

  5 answers
  • Do you live in a humid climate?

  • Jewellmartin Jewellmartin on Oct 29, 2019
    Empty everything out of the closet, floor to ceiling. If you have carpet, pull up at least one corner. Remove the baseboards, and any shelves that can be just lifted off. Sprinkle the bare floor with baking soda. Go back in a few hours and check again for damp areas. The baking soda and removed baseboards should make this easier. A note on dampness: if any plumbing lines run under this closet, there can be a leak ten feet away and the water my travel on the outside of pipes and settle in the ground beneath your closet. The odor will eventually enter your house even if you can’t see it. Just as if a skunk emits it’s odor under the house. But that smell might motivate you or a plumber to dig under the house to fix the (expensive) leak. When you are sure that there is no dampness in the closet, this would be a good time to paint and make any structural changes you want to in the closet. Cleaning and painting the baseboard off the floor will be much easier than doing those things when they are reinstalled. I sure hope baking soda, Febreeze and any repairs mean your closet is inviting again. Jewell

    • Lynn Lynn on Oct 30, 2019

      I don't think there's any plumbing in the walls, but perhaps something is draining under from outside. Will check that out!

  • Laura Cooper Laura Cooper on Oct 29, 2019
    Does one of your closet walls have plumbing in it. It's possible there's a small leak in the wall that has either run down a plumbing vent or from a water line. To irradicate odors, use an ozone machine. Close it up in your closet and run it for a couple of hours. Leave it closed up for a couple more hours then air it out. Ozone is the only way to fully destroy odors of mildew, etc. It will even kill the spores. You can rent one at any tool rental facility.

    • Lynn Lynn on Oct 30, 2019

      Thanks, I'll check for water underneath. The floor is wood, and nothing looks/feels damp, but perhaps its the subfloor.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Nov 02, 2019

    Hello. Here’s a link that might be informal informative.

    I hope this helps.


    Got a Musty Smell? Here's how to get rid of it. | Frugal Family Times

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Dec 25, 2020

    Hello Lynn,

    With the good weather you have probably built up condensation in there, especially if there has been no ventilation. Give everything a freshen up wash. and wipe everything inside down. Add some ventilation to the storage area.