Removing Musty Smells from Dolls?

March 21, 2005

Antique DollsI recently inherited some very pretty, mint condition dolls, however they and their boxes are incredibly musty smelling. How do I get rid of that smell?




By Letitia (Guest Post)
March 22, 20051 found this helpful

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.

By Sue Henry (Guest Post)
March 23, 20052 found this helpful

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)

By Birdly (Guest Post)
March 24, 20051 found this helpful

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.

By (Guest Post)
March 26, 20051 found this helpful

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.

By Gail (Guest Post)
May 5, 20051 found this helpful

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.


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 267 Posts
September 6, 20180 found this helpful

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.

Good luck!

June 12, 20190 found this helpful

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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4 More Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

January 25, 2015

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.

By Janet


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
December 3, 20170 found this helpful

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.


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
December 4, 20170 found this helpful

You can stuff the box with crumpled newspapers or activated charcoal.

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February 3, 2015

How do I get rid of the smell of damp from the doll and box?

By Carol


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
January 5, 20180 found this helpful

There is a product called Nok-Out that removes all kinds of odors. You can get it on Amazon.

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October 20, 2004

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.



By Brooxie (Guest Post)
October 21, 20041 found this helpful

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 !

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