How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Kitchen Cupboards

If your kitchen cupboards have a musty smell, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, kitchens are especially susceptible to unpleasant odors due to their damp environments and lack of ventilation. Even if you already clean the shelves regularly, sometimes it just isn’t enough. Today we’ll share with you some surefire tactics for getting rid of that musty smell of your kitchen cupboards once and for all! Keep reading to learn How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Kitchen Cupboards can help get rid of those lingering odors in no time so you can keep your kitchen smelling fresh again.

What Causes Musty Smell in Kitchen Cabinets and Cupboards?

  • Moisture buildup: Excess moisture is a major driver to mold growth. If moisture accumulates in your kitchen cabinets, it can provide an ideal environment for mold to grow. This might happen as a result of leaks, water spills, high humidity levels, or insufficient ventilation.
  • Inadequate ventilation: Inadequate air movement and ventilation within kitchen cupboards can retain moisture and produce stagnant conditions, allowing mold to grow. The lack of enough airflow keeps the cabinets from drying out, increasing the musty odor.
  • Leaking pipes or plumbing fixtures near or within kitchen cabinets can introduce moisture, resulting in mold development and a musty stench. To prevent future mold growth, it is critical to fix any leaks as soon as possible.
  • Food debris and spills: Food particles and spills that are not promptly cleaned up can provide a nutrient source for mold growth. If these residues accumulate in the cabinets or between containers, they can contribute to the musty smell.
  • Damp dish towels or sponges: Storing damp dish towels or sponges in the cabinets can introduce moisture and create an environment suitable for mold growth. Ensure that these items are thoroughly dried before storage or consider alternative storage solutions.
  • Poorly sealed cabinets: Cabinets with gaps or cracks in their structure or insufficient sealing can allow moisture to enter, promoting mold growth. Pay attention to any areas where moisture can penetrate and address them accordingly.
  • Long periods of closure: If cabinets are rarely opened or if there are items stored for extended periods without proper ventilation, it can create a stagnant environment that encourages mold growth and the subsequent musty smell.

What Causes Musty Smell in Kitchen Cabinets and Cupboards

What is the sign of a Musty Smell in Kitchen Cupboards?

A musty odor in kitchen cabinets is frequently a symptom of mold or mildew growth. Mold thrives in wet and poorly ventilated locations, and if moisture is present, kitchen cupboards can be a perfect breeding site. The musty odor is caused by the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by mold or mildew.

Here are some indications that your kitchen cupboards may have a musty odor:

  • Musty odors are frequently described as damp, earthy, or moldy. If you notice a distinct stench when opening your kitchen cabinets, it could be the result of mold or mildew.
  • Dark spots or discoloration: Look for dark spots, patches, or discoloration on the surfaces of the cupboards. These could be indications of mold growth. Mold comes in a variety of colors, including black, green, and gray.
  • Visible mold growth: In some circumstances, visible mold growth can be seen on cupboard surfaces or interior corners. It may take the form of fuzzy patches or a powdery material.
  • Excessive humidity or moisture: If your kitchen has excessive humidity levels or has water leaks, spills, or condensation concerns, it can provide a favorable environment for mold growth and lead to a musty odor in the cabinets.
  • Allergic reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions such as sneezing, coughing, or respiratory irritation when exposed to mold spores. If you or others in your household consistently have such symptoms in the kitchen area, it may be related to mold growth.

If you suspect mold or mildew in your kitchen cupboards, it’s important to address the issue promptly. Cleaning the cupboards thoroughly with a mixture of water and vinegar or hydrogen peroxide can help eliminate the mold and mitigate the musty smell. Additionally, addressing any moisture sources, improving ventilation, and ensuring the cupboards remain dry can help prevent future mold growth.

Visible mold growth
Visible mold growth

How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Kitchen Cupboards

Remove everything from the affected cupboards, including food, dishes, and utensils. This makes cleaning easier and more thorough.

Clean the cupboards: Begin by washing down the internal surfaces of the cabinets with an equal mixture of white vinegar and water. Vinegar removes smells and kills mold and mildew. Using a sponge or towel soaked in vinegar, scrub the surfaces. Pay close attention to any apparent mold or mildew areas, as well as corners and crevices.

After cleaning, sprinkle baking soda inside the cabinets. Baking soda is well-known for its ability to absorb odors. Allow it to sit in the cupboards for a few hours or overnight to help eliminate the musty odor. After that, vacuum or wipe away the baking soda.

Odor absorbers: Place odor-absorbing materials inside the cupboards, such as activated charcoal, coffee grounds, or sachets of dried herbs like lavender or mint. These natural deodorizers can help absorb lingering odors over time.

Air circulation: Improve airflow in the kitchen by opening windows or using fans to increase ventilation. This helps to reduce moisture and freshen up the space. Consider using a dehumidifier to control humidity levels if needed.

Check for leaks: Inspect the cupboards and surrounding areas for any signs of water leaks or moisture sources. Address and fix any leaks promptly to prevent further mold growth and musty smells.

Regular cleaning routine: Establish a regular cleaning routine for your kitchen cupboards. Clean them at least once every few months to prevent mold and mildew growth. Regularly check for and address any signs of moisture or leaks.

Proper storage: Ensure that items stored in the cupboards are completely dry before placing them inside. Wipe down containers, dishes, and utensils to remove any excess moisture before storing them away.

Professional help: If the musty smell persists or you suspect extensive mold growth, it may be necessary to consult a professional for further assessment and remediation.

5 best Tips to Get Musty Smell Out of Kitchen Cabinets

  1. Deep cleaning: Take everything out of the cabinets and thoroughly clean the interior and exterior surfaces. Wipe clean the cabinets with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water, as vinegar helps eradicate odors. Using a sponge or cloth, scrub the surfaces, giving careful attention to corners, cracks, and any apparent symptoms of mold or mildew. Rinse and completely dry the cabinets with clean water.
  2. Baking Soda: Inside each cabinet, place an open container or plate of baking soda. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer that aids in the absorption of unwanted odors. Allow the baking soda to absorb the musty odor in the cabinets for several days. As needed, replace it with new baking soda.
  3. Charcoal: Activated charcoal is another effective odor absorber. Place small bowls or pouches filled with activated charcoal in the cabinets. Leave them there for several days to absorb the musty smell. Charcoal can be found in pet stores or online as a natural air purifier.
  4. Coffee Grounds: Coffee grounds have a strong and pleasant aroma that can help mask the musty smell. Place dry coffee grounds in small bowls or wrap them in cheesecloth and put them in the cabinets. Replace the coffee grounds every few days to maintain their freshness.
  5. Fresh Air and Ventilation: Allow fresh air to circulate in the kitchen by opening windows and doors. Use fans or air purifiers to improve ventilation and help remove stagnant air. Increased airflow helps dissipate the musty smell and prevents moisture buildup, reducing the chances of mold growth.

When It’s Time To Replace Your Kitchen Cupboards when have Musty Smell

  1. Clean thoroughly: Start by emptying the cupboards and cleaning them thoroughly. Use a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap to wipe down all surfaces, including shelves, walls, and doors. Pay special attention to corners and crevices where mold or mildew can accumulate.
  2. Remove mold or mildew: If you spot any mold or mildew during the cleaning process, it’s crucial to remove it. Mix a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Apply the solution to the affected areas using a cloth or sponge and scrub gently. Rinse with clean water and dry thoroughly.
  3. Increase ventilation: Poor ventilation can contribute to musty odors. Ensure that your kitchen has proper airflow by using exhaust fans while cooking and opening windows whenever possible. You can also consider installing a dehumidifier to reduce excess moisture in the air.
  4. Use odor absorbers: After cleaning, place odor absorbers, such as baking soda or activated charcoal, inside your cupboards. These substances can help absorb any lingering smells.
  5. Monitor for recurrence: Keep an eye on your cupboards over the following weeks to see if the musty smell returns. If it does, it may be a sign of a more significant issue, such as water leaks or inadequate insulation. In such cases, it’s advisable to consult a professional to address the underlying problem.

Replacing your kitchen cupboards should be considered a last resort if the musty smell persists despite taking the steps mentioned above. It’s important to determine the root cause of the issue before investing in new cupboards to prevent a recurrence.

Remember, if you’re unsure about handling mold or dealing with significant moisture problems, it’s always best to consult with professionals, such as mold remediation experts or contractors, who can assess the situation and provide appropriate advice.

Conclusion: How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Kitchen Cupboards

From this blog post, we learned that the signs of a musty smell in kitchen cabinets and cupboards can vary, but these signs can include a musty and damp odor or even a mildew smell. These smells are caused by water leaks and/or condensation issues from inadequate ventilation. Furthermore, if left unchecked and not dealt with correctly, may lead to further damage such as warped wood, mold growth, or even full cabinet replacement.

Fortunately, there are many possible solutions to getting rid of that musty smell in kitchen cupboards which range from small fixes such as cleaning your cabinet shelves with vinegar and baking soda or adding ventilation fans to larger improvements such as fixing plumbing problems or changing the liners inside the cabinets. Additionally, if after all these things are applied and the musty smell still persists, then it may be time to replace your cupboards altogether. In conclusion, preventative measures should always be taken to keep cabinets in working condition before any serious damages occur. If you follow our five best tips on how to get musty smells out of kitchen cabinets you can save yourself the time, energy -and sometimes money- associated with replacing the cupboard altogether!


Q: What should I use to clean the cupboards?

A: Use a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap to clean the surfaces of the cupboards. Avoid using harsh chemicals that can leave behind unpleasant odors.

Q: Can I use bleach to remove the musty smell?

A: While bleach can kill mold and mildew, its strong odor can linger. It’s better to use vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, as they are effective against odors and mold.

Q: How long should I let the cupboards dry after cleaning?

A: Allow the cupboards to air dry completely before placing items back inside. This may take a few hours or overnight, depending on the level of moisture.

Q: Are there any natural remedies to eliminate musty smells?

A: Yes, natural remedies like baking soda, activated charcoal, or coffee grounds can help absorb odors. Place them in open containers or small sachets inside the cupboards.

Q: Should I repaint the cupboards to remove the musty smell?

A: Repainting is not necessary unless the cupboards have significant mold or water damage. Proper cleaning and odor absorption methods should resolve the issue.

Q: How do I ensure the musty smell doesn’t return?

A: Maintain good ventilation, control humidity levels, fix any water leaks, regularly clean the cupboards, and periodically check for signs of mold or mildew.

Q: When should I consider replacing my kitchen cupboards?

A: If the musty smell persists despite your best efforts and there are visible signs of extensive mold or water damage, it may be necessary to replace the cupboards.

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