I have found that musty smells are difficult to get rid of unless you wash and reset the doll's hair with 409 and dry clean the outfits. Please do not attempt this unless you have done this sort of thing before, or if you just want to show, not resell the dolls (It's kind of difficult and the outfits can get damaged easily). Alternately, I have had success by simply letting the dolls "air out" in a non-musty room, covered lightly with plastic wrap to keep dust off. I once reduced heavy smoke odor from some dolls I got at an auction this way.
We purchased an air filter unit from EcoQuest some years ago to remove the "hog" smell my husband brought in from the farm. If you set the dolls in front of the unit, within hours the smell will be gone. (not disguised). It even worked in my car when I hit a skunk. (no, I don't sell them but I imagine you can find them online)
Sunlight and fresh air have worked well for me in the past. This allows fresh air to circulate and the sunlight kills the mold. Just be careful not to leave them so long that they become bleached if they are very delicate.
Charcoal briquettes will take smells away. Maybe you could put an open pail/bag of briquettes in a box with the dolls and close for a few days/weeks to see if that helps.
This works for me. Put each doll box in a paper bag. If you can remove the dolls from their boxes, and bag them separately, that will work even better. Seal the bags with tape and bury them in unscented cat litter for a week. If they still have some musty odor, change the cat litter and repeat.
I have been told that prop and costume departments will spray isopropyl alcohol (or even vodka) on delicate items that may have developed a musty smell. The alcohol will kill off the mold or mildew that is causing the smell. This might work well for your dolls but I would test it first. It's possible that any cleaning technique might damage the dyes that are used on the doll clothing.
Used cheap vodka and directly sprayed it on the dolls hair, face and clothes. Works great. Inherited over 1,000 dolls that were stored for 7 years. No damage, smell gone. Cheap. 1.75 liters at $9 per bottle. Purchased 12 of them. Sprayed everything, put them out in the sun for 4 hours. Like new and no smell
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How do I remove a musty smell from items stored in the basement? I am trying to remove the musty smell from my daughter's dolls which have been in the basement in a Rubbermaid container for 25 years. Thank you.
Fresh air and sunshine does wonders for a good start. Wash the dolls clothing and let it line dry. Wash the dolls themselves with mild soap and water. If the smellis still there, put them in a new tote with charcoal and baking soda and crumbled up newspapers for a couple days. It probably will take several treatments to get rid of the smell all together.
You can stuff the box with crumpled newspapers or activated charcoal.
How do I get rid of the smell of damp from the doll and box?
There is a product called Nok-Out that removes all kinds of odors. You can get it on Amazon.
How do you get musty smell out of dolls, they are still in there original boxes and have a musty smell on them. What could I use and not damage the doll.
Try placing the doll in a large box which can be closed. Place a charcoal briquet in the box next to the doll but not touching. Leave overnight and it should do the trick. This works for musty closets, even old books !