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Removing Musty Odor from an Antique Trunk?

Does anyone know how to get rid of the musty smell from an antique steamer chest that has been in a basement for many years? There is no appearance of mold, but maybe that is what it is.

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It just arrived and I would like to buy a custom piece of glass and have a table top. It will make a great conversation piece. But the unknown culprit from this open trunk has triggered allergic reactions in some, e.g. stuffy sinuses. I will vacuum it and am leaving it empty and opened for a while, but now I'm rethinking where I could put it since I do not want to make anyone sick.

It is such a treasure inherited from the Irish side of my family from Salem, MA (Shea) and is probably from the 1890s to 1910.

By Louise from Houston, TX

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 239 Feedbacks
May 9, 20102 found this helpful
Best Answer

I'd wash it inside and out with a barely damp cloth saturated in vinegar. Then I'd leave it open out in the sun for a week. Next, I'd set a bowl of either baking soda or charcoal in it and bring it inside to see how it does.

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Charcoal removes the smell from old books so maybe it'll do the same on the trunk.

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Anonymous
March 9, 20160 found this helpful

I came to this site when trying to freshen and sell a steamer trunk from the '40s. I tried bleach water spray and fresh air. I tried Spic n Span spray and fresh air. I put bowls of fresh ground coffee in all levels and closed it for days. Once the coffee was removed, the musty odor returned. Then I thought of this.....I opened 4 bars of Irish Spring soap and set each bar on top of its box inside the trunk and closed the lid. In 5 days the trunk smelled fresh with the soap removed. I sold the trunk!

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August 3, 20160 found this helpful

www.antiquetrunksandchests.com/.../

GO here

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March 10, 20170 found this helpful

Wow I'm so happy i found ur website. I just found a beautiful trunk and it didn't smell at thrift store but when i got it home the oder hit me i have sinus problems and can't bring my beautiful trunk inside. Now i can I'm going to get soap thanks for ur help. Sincerely Linda Smith

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April 9, 20170 found this helpful

Charcoal does not work

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May 11, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

They say a bag of charcoal (not saturated with lighting fluid) will remove any smell. Just rip open the bag and leave in the trunk a few days!

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March 9, 20161 found this helpful
Best Answer

I tried it all and within an hour or so, the odor returned. Finally, I placed several opened bars of Irish Spring soap inside (each bar set on top of its own box) and closed the trunk for 5 days.

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The odor disappeared, the fresh scent of Irish Spring remained.

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Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 450 Feedbacks
May 11, 20100 found this helpful

Spray with lysol and one day in the sun will do it. Then leave the top open inside for a few days or just leave it opened. If you close it, place a bar of soap in it.

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May 11, 20100 found this helpful

Have you tried crumpling up newspaper and leaving it in the trunk for a few days? Or try fresh coffee grounds. Put them in a bowl and leave them for a few days.

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Or maybe baking soda? I'm just guessing here, but maybe one of these will work.

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