Friday, July 23, 2010

Ahhh The Lovey Smell Of Musty Mold - What To Do?

So my beautiful vintage mid-century 1950's vinyl slipper vanity boudoir chair arrived yesterday. I do love it, simply gorgeous!

And best of all, it was $16. That's like 10 British pounds for my UK friends. $18 for my Aussie friends.


No way could I pass on this.

But as I opened the heavy and large box, that familiar and unwelcome scent hit my nose. The one I was just talking about in a prior post.

It smelled musty. =(

It arrived on a warm day, from a hot truck, so I let it sit overnight, but there is no mistaking the smell.

It's not overpowering, but definitely there.

The smell is coming from the underside of the seat, which seems to be made up of a thin layer of straw material and some foam.

I googled and found a whole argument of ways to take care of it: Yes bleach water, no bleach water, yes vinegar, no vinegar, yes baking soda, no baking soda, yes kitty litter, no kitty litter.

It was dizzying!!

I'm curious if any of you have had this issue, and took care of it in a way that worked?

I'm confident I can find a solution with a few attempts, perhaps.

And of course the seller who MUST have known about it as s/he disassembled it, hasn't said a word. A gold seal power seller.

I'll withhold my feedback for now on this. If I can easily get the stank out, I just might give them a glowing review. Even though I know it was a pain to disassemble and pack this, and I DO appreciate the fantastic deal, they live in a part of the country that obviously gets mold and mildew, so they must have had an idea this had a scent to it.

Annnnd a HUGE "Thank You!!" to zootsuitmama for the lovely tablecloth I got from her! Pictures to follow.

Well, happy Friday! Any tips would be greatly appreciated!


  1. Consider some sort of deodorising spray. I use one called febreeze on all my hats and lots of handbags, one squirt and the smell is gone. I realise you may not have this exact product where you live but likely you could find something similar. Then leave the underside of the seat out in direct sun for at least a couple of days, this will kill mould spores and further reduce smell.

  2. The sun is your friend--in this case anyway. I'd expose the chair underside to direct sun for a day or two. That should solve the problem.

    Good luck.

    Evelyn in Mi.

  3. Hiya KvK~

    I use Febreeze a lot, and yes, we have it here. =)

    It's an odor masker, not a mold removal/killer, so I don't think it would last long term.

    And thanks Evelyn as well. It is hot here, a dry heat lol, so I will try that.

    But I think using some kind of spray mold killer first might do the trick, then dry/air it out. Bleach, ammonia, vinegar...

    But which spray to use? Hmmm...

  4. For sure the smell will be harder to get out of furniture than a hat, for example, but febreeze or similar would have to help. It's hard with something like that, that can't be washed. Also I think most mould sprays are bleach-based, so that could be a problem in itself. These things are sent to try us!

  5. lol yes, this will be an experiment to be sure!

    Thanks again KvK.

    Ya know, I have a sort of similar issue in my "pink room" smelling of cloth. Cloth as it sits gets a sort of... "Thrift store" smell to it, no other way to put it.

    Febreeze and Glade air freshners sort of work, but the smell comes back. I'm exploring what to do in there as well.

    Mom made a lot of cloth and rag dolls that cannot be washed. So I am looking for alternatives.

  6. You could try sitting a small bucket of plain charcoal under the chair and wrapping the chair and the bucket together. Not sure if it will take all of the smell out of it forever, but keeping a bucket of charcoal in a dank/musty house seems to do the trick.

  7. I've read about the charcoal, coffee bean and kitty litter methods, but this is a thin-ish layer of straw, where the mold has permeated into the straw.

    Not sure if that would do the trick... =/


  8. i would expose the underside sunlight, and spray it with Lysol...

  9. Yes definitely the way to go....I'm soooo alelergic to Febreze and wish the stuff was never comes wafting across my backyard from time to time and sends me for the hills....sooo many people are allergic to these 'man'made scented products....I know I'm a canary in a coal mine because mark my words there is going to be a ban on the stuff someday!
    I use tea tree oil spray on all my for items and breathing!! Sorry about my rant!

  10. I agree with the folks that have said sunshine. Also, I do use white vinegar to get odors out. It's gentle & natural (and doesn't leave a vinegar smell). The combination should do it!

  11. One more for direct sunshine. 2 days to a week and the smell will go away.

  12. Do you have a covered back porch? Maybe the answer is just letting it air out? possibly spraying febreeze on the underside? When ever I get items that REAK of Cigg smoke I let them "air out" outside for a few days before binging them in.

  13. Hmm wow, thanks for all the tips so far.

    One thing I will NOT use is Lysol. As I mentioned in yesterdays post, I got an item reeking of Lysol, put it on the back porch and it never stopped stinking lol. Pee Yoo....

  14. Let that baby bake in the sun!Our affectionately nicknamed George Jetson chair had a similar musty/old house smell.Lots of Febreeze, lots of days in the sun and multiple rub downs with Simple Green perked it up and eliminated odors.Enjoy your purchase - it looks fab.

  15. My garage now smells like that since it's turned into my latest furniture storage area (cars? HA!) and I have to say I don't mind the smell at all. It reminds me of my grandmother's house! Plus living in the South with all the humidity you sort of get used to things smelling musty. So, if you can't get the smell out to your satisfaction, I'll be quite happy to take that chair off your hands. IT IS BEAUTIFUL!!!

  16. Nice chair, and a great price! I had the same issue yesterday with my new '54 GE combination fridge. The seal had mold under it. I thought bleach would damage it, so I used diluted vinegar , a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and then let it air out over night. Perfect! Maybe that would work in this case too? Just a thought.

    Best of luck! I love your blog!


  17. Darn, nothing at all important to impart here, but what a great chair! Would white vinegar help? I know its good for grease...

    I am at a loss, Miss Atomic!

  18. Thanks again for all the great advice. Hmmm decisions, decisions...

    Christine, I understand the fond memories it brings you, but I'm afraid only the smell of moth balls brings me good memories about my Grandmother lol...

    Might try the white vinegar or in my case maybe diluted bleach since it's the straw and pad underneath. But the fully enclosed back pad also has a tiny bit of a scent, so I will also air it out.

  19. This may sound weird, but spraying cheap vodka may help. Its a costuming trick.

  20. Oops, accidentally hit enter before I finished. The vodka kills smelly bacteria and then evaporates and leaves no smell. You may have to do it a few times to get the smell completely out. I swear by this stuff after doing the ren faire for 12 years on 100 degree days in 40 pd costumes that can't be washed.

  21. just to point this out, in case the seller really is innocent, sometimes if you live somewhere with lots of mold, you stop noticing the smell. I lived in a basement apt for a while and after the first couple weeks I completely grew accustomed to the smell although it would gag me now. The seller may have a similar situation.

  22. I too vote for sitting it in the bright sunshine! I had some old books that smelled musty and it worked! Zootsuitmama
    PS Glad you got the tablecloth! I don't know what happened to the two glassses, though.

  23. I like the vodka idea, I'll have to file that one away. I didn't realize that alcohol would kill mildew so that's a handy tip for surfaces that can't be bleached.
    I have read that tea tree oil is a natural mildewcide and that a mix of water and the oil can be sprayed on surfaces to kill mildew but I haven't tried it personally.

    I don't care for Fabreeze at all, to me it has an underlying odor that's reminiscent of cat urine, which needless to say is not appealing.

    I have to agree with melina bee about people acclimating to a mildew smell in their home, they just stop noticing it at some point. Kind of like when you've sampled too many fragrances at the perfume counter and lose the ability to smell any of them.

  24. THAT SMELL IS THE WORST!! You might want to try a product called "Zero Odor Pet." We had a neighborhood cat that would wander in and "visit" but I found that it works on a myriad of different nostril assaulting smells. They say it even neutralizes skunk spray so maybe it will even work on a mildewy chair?!? You might have to soak it in it, though!!

  25. That is the Number One complaint I have against vintage. Some nights when I come home after work after one of our hot, humid days I'll open up the front door and get an unmistakable wiff of that old smell that always seems to recur ever so often to haunt a person. And I don't have anything out that is outright musty smelling... it just seems to be part of getting old ;D

  26. I agree with the lots of sun and airing out idea. Try this first for as many days as you can. It's worked for me on some things that I never thought that it would work on. Flip that chair over and let the sun hit the underside.

    I've used a diluted vinegar spray a good deal too. I've heard the vodka idea a lot but have never tried it. Lots of people swear by it.

    Hopefully, the Seller didn't realize the smell but you never know with people. My Dad is a chain smoker and he never smells things like smoke, mildew and dust. They never even register with his senses.

    Good luck! It's a gorgeous chair!

  27. Gosh just one more wonderful thing about getting old: smelling musty. Note to self: stock up on White Shoulders like Grandma did.

  28. ha ha! Mom used to wear Mink and Pearls.

    Well I think there is a lot of truth to the fact that the seller may NOT have known about the smell, if indeed they live in a musty, moldy, stinky part of the country lol... I suppose. But wouldn't they then be aware of the possibility of it permeating everything they sell?

    I've bought some magazines off eBay in the past, and I can assure you, that smell never, ever goes away from paper. Not even paper left out in the air. For years.

    I tried clipping from old magazines to make collages years ago, and that stank never went away. I had to seal the collage with a clear sealer to cover the smell. But you can't clear-coat everything that smells.

    But as for the other magazines I bought for my living room magazine rack, well, there is no helping them lose the Pee Yoo. Ugh lol... Remind me to only buy vintage magazines from dry places like Arizona from now on.

  29. sorry I've got nothing constructive to suggest re the mould, I just popped in to say that's a super fabulous chair! Good luck getting rid of the odour!

    xx Charlotte
    Tuppence Ha'penny Vintage

  30. I hate it when people don't disclose information about an item on auction but I hope you get it sorted :-)