Musty Smelling Dolls in Boxes?

I 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?



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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.

April 8, 20170 found this helpful

I have old dolls stored in the basement in containers but they smell moldy/musty What can I do


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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