How to determine musty kitchen sink cabinet smell?


Noticed a musty smell around dishwasher. Discovered a small leak from pump. Had damaged laminate flr beneath from dripping consistently over time. Cleaned up beneath & laid down a coating of cornstarch & baking soda. Smell has dissipated there, as it has dried. Still waiting on the replacement part. Water valve is shut off for now.

However, I now smell it stronger from the double sink cabinet beside the washer.

There is no water damage WITHIN the cabinet, pipe joints are all dry.

It is an island counter with a 2x4 boxed frame under cabinet with faced toe-kick which I removed. But I can't get past the 2x4 frame, into that void space nor SEE beneath the cabinet bottom. The bar counter on the other side of the island is drywall faced with a 5 inch baseboard. No evidence of water presence anywhere on outer layers.

Would DIY readers expect THAT is where the smell is originating caused by the dripping dishwasher, could the water have run beneath the laminate & along the underlay? as I cannot see any evidence trail of water damage that it traveled atop the floor surface to the cabinet.

OR are there ANY other possibilities to explore (see pic) to avoid cabinet dismantling?

It's a 2nd flr condo & water leaks are stuff of nightmares & concern for me.

The 1st flr tenant below has not complained of any evidence of ceiling water damage...yet. Thx

q how to determine musty kitchen sink cabinet smell
  10 answers
  • My only thought is cutting a hole in the floor of the cabinet so you can shine a flashlight in and see.

  • That would've been my next suggestion...checking in the area below the cabinet and washer...however if it's not in your home, that's a hard one. If you removed the dishwasher and cleaned the area under it, the only other thing I would suspect is that, as you said, the water probably did travel through the underlayment and is causing that odor along the path it traveled.

  • Ken Erickson Ken Erickson on May 21, 2020

    Water will continue to be absorbed in the flooring during a continuous leak like you had - especially if the sub floor is a press board type of material. I would suggest cutting the floor out of your cabinet and getting as much of the sub floor out. Otherwise it will develop mold and continue to stink.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on May 21, 2020

    Clean with OdoBan. That should remove it. Also, put some DampRid in the area to pull excess moisture from the air.

    • See 1 previous
    • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on May 26, 2020

      My MIL's house is only 2 block high foundation and we have DampRid and a commercial dehumidifier. Hoping there's no leak but that damp smell is murder to me. Not to mention the mold potential.

  • CJ CJ on May 21, 2020

    I'm sorry this happened but yes, absolutely water could have and probably did seep under your laminate and into whatever underlayment it may have. Not all laminates require an underlayment.

    Possibly, it's only the inside of the 2X4 base frame that is wet and opening the bottom of the cabinet will allow it to dry out.

    We are currently remodeling our kitchen because of the same issue, only it was the refrigerator that leaked. Our laminate had a felt pad with a plastic backing on it. Water seeped between the laminate planks onto the plastic backing and somehow saturated the felt across several feet from the 'frig. The kitchen project was on the To Do List but had to be bumped to the top so the sub floor wouldn't be damaged more that it already was.

    As the others stated, try to remove the floor of the cabinet, carefully. Maybe you can pry edges up and not have to replace the cabinet floor, it will be a bit of a challenge to cut slots to accommodate the plumbing if you must replace it but it doesn't look too complicated if you must replace the bottom.

    Good luck on your project!

  • I'd use a container of damprid to try and absorb some of that moisture. Good luck!

  • Sharon Sharon on May 22, 2020

    instead of looking down look up. I had issue from leaky tap. Was wood from bottom underneath of counter... leave doors open or put fan to dry and smell will disappear. ... not same leak I know but check anyways.

  • Wanda Wanda on May 22, 2020

    Pull out the dishwasher if you can so you can do a more thorough inspection. Water takes the path of least resistance and since it had a good head start wood could be damaged underneath the sink cabinet. If so the only way to remedy it is tear it out. I know this because we had a slow leak behind the shower wall. The good thing from it was I got a bath remodel.

  • Dee Dee on May 22, 2020

    You definitely need to take out a portion of the floor of the cabinet to look underneath the area. Water could be just sitting there from the leak and it will bring all sorts of bugs etc. Get some damprid and use it after you discover what is going on there. I know it is a major pain to do this but you need to find the source so it can be fixed.

  • Archie Archie on May 25, 2020

    Use this to inspect under the counter. Just need to drill a hole.