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We just bought a beautiful 1900 home, but it has stinky old house closets!Does anyone have advice on how to get rid of that horrible odor? (It is every closet in the house--not just closets near water sources.)
All closets become smelly due to stagnant air. To rectify the odor, you have to stain seal (BIN primer ) and paint the walls. If there is carpet, pull the carpet out and seal/paint the floor as well. You can either install new carpet (not the old, it is holding the odor you're trying to get rid of ), or you can install aromatic cedar planks, hardwood, tile, or Pergo type flooring.
To minimize the recurrence of odor, try to keep the doors open as much as possible to exchange the air frequently.
Thanks for the quick response, A.Spruce. These closets have built in dressers with drawers that have never been painted. I'm about ready to tear them all out, but maybe the bin will do the trick!
It will, but it is important to seal all of the bare wood, which means all surfaces of the drawers and entirely inside the cabinet too.
Since you're working with drawers, you may want to opt for a clear finish such as polyurethane. It will seal in the odor, without leaving behind a tacky surface like paint often will, especially if you're going to be putting clothing or linens into the drawers.
I had this problem and re-painted the insides and tried to leave the doors open with the windows in the room open as much as possible. A friend of mine had the same problem and washed everything down with white vinegar and then put a tub of baking soda inside, she says that worked really well.
painting with a latext paint with a fungiside is common to address future issues. i am wondering if applying a10% TIMBOR solution might work i will try this misapplication of TIMBOR in some of my old closets... is boratic acid- natural fungiside and insects are taken care of too...
Personally I would prime the surfaces with a shellac that will seal in all odors & protect against mildew seeping in.. Finish with a quality latex enamel .. I hope you didn't take out all the built in's. it makes all the character in those old homes.
A friend of mine used an ozone generator. The ozone neutralizes the stink by oxidation.
You should limit your own exposure to ozone, as it can damage lung tissue.
You can also install louvers in all the closet doors so that air can circulate.
You should remove all old items like carpet and repaint your home. Always open the doors fro air ventilation. Try to identify from where the odor coming most and fix it by remove or replace.