Author Topic: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?  (Read 1098 times)

jeromedawg

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Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« on: October 04, 2021, 04:14:54 PM »
Does anyone have good recommendations on getting the old musty smell out of cabinets? Bowl of vinegar and then bowl of baking soda? Some parts of the cabinets smell probably from rats and rat pee too, since we were just dealing with them.

On that note too: anyone have recommendations on good shelf-liners that are durable and last a long time?
« Last Edit: October 04, 2021, 05:07:54 PM by jeromedawg »

Coleman50000

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2021, 04:17:18 PM »
Also interested!

affordablehousing

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2021, 11:09:22 AM »
Yes, New CABINETS.

lthenderson

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2021, 11:15:34 AM »
Since most cabinets are left unfinished on the inside and are thus porous, it might be hard to totally get rid of the smell with chemicals. But theoretically, you should be able to seal those odors in with a good quality paint or finish.

Botany Bae

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2021, 11:15:46 AM »
I'd start by wiping everything down with bleach. This will kill any mold spores causing the odor, and hopefully sterilize the rat pee (yech). Avoid anything ammonia based if you suspect urine, since this will make the odor more pronounced. If the pee smell is bad, perhaps try an enzyme-based cleaner made for pet urine stains, too.

Newspaper works well for absorbing musty odor out of old books, so why not try it in the cabinet? Fill the cabinets full of crumpled newspaper and leave it to set for a few days.

Another option is to paint the inside of the cabinets with an odor-blocking primer.

jeromedawg

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2021, 12:19:39 PM »
We are having a cleaning lady come out to do a deep clean on Saturday so will have her work on the cabinets. They probably should be repainted because they're all scratched too. We were planning just to put those silicone liners down either way. For the time being I put a couple cups with baking soda inside the cabinets. The place is being fumigated now but we'll see if the baking soda helped at all with any of the smell - I think in order for it to be most effective you have to leave the doors closed. We will probably pull the oven/range and dishwasher out to vacuum up and sanitize those areas. The fridge is one of those Subzero fridges - it seems like a PITA to move but would be good if we could pull that out too.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2021, 12:30:08 PM by jeromedawg »

Mrs Brightside

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2021, 01:59:54 PM »
If mice or rats, you need to take sanitation seriously. Wear a mask or open up the room and use bleach. Hantavirus is not that common but it has a 40% fatality rate with no treatment available. See if itís carried where you live. Deer mice basically carry it everywhere in the US. https://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/rodents/index.html

jeromedawg

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2021, 02:21:37 PM »
If mice or rats, you need to take sanitation seriously. Wear a mask or open up the room and use bleach. Hantavirus is not that common but it has a 40% fatality rate with no treatment available. See if itís carried where you live. Deer mice basically carry it everywhere in the US. https://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/rodents/index.html

Good to know. I'm in SoCal and just came across this: http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/eh/docs/Specialized/Vector_Management/hanta_st.pdf

Looks like they have confirmed that only deer mice in this area carry it and not rats. Hopefully that's still the case! And hopefully there weren't any deer mice!!

SunnyDays

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2021, 09:37:33 PM »
If in doubt about hantavirus, assume itís a risk and wet down the cabinet interiors before you do anything to disturb the mess.

Iím having the same issue with an old table.  Iíve read that wiping with vinegar and water might help, as well as repeated washings with Murphyís Oil Soap.  I plan to try both.

jeromedawg

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2021, 09:09:47 PM »
Welp... found part of the problem at least where the dishwasher is, which smelled horrible. Old rats' nest... an old dehydrated rat with a baby or possibly two from probably years ago along with piles of rat poo. Pics to come.

There's a hole for a passageway going to the sink area as well, so I suspect more there.

We soaked everything with bleach and let it sit for 5-10 mins, and I had a mask and gloves on scooping it all up with paper towels :(

Needless to say, we'll be getting a new dishwasher. Not quite sure what to do about the cabinets but this sucks. It's almost starting to look like a partial to full kitchen remodel is in the works.

Sibley

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2021, 09:48:51 PM »
Don't want pictures. EWWWWW.

Malcat

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2021, 06:35:15 AM »
Don't want pictures. EWWWWW.

I absolutely want pictures.

Re: cabinets, you don't need to replace them, a good cleaning and then paint them. If you plan to paint, then clean with vinegar and water, and then mineral spirits, this won't leave a residue like most cleaning products will, which can mess with paint.

Do not use any oil product like Murphy's if you plan to paint or refinish your cabinets, it can seriously affect adherence of paint or stain and then your prep becomes a lot harder.

If you do decide to paint your cabinets instead of replacing them, consider something more durable like milk paint plus topcoat, or brushable enamel.

I've rehabbed some hideously stinky wood cabinets in a chronic smoker home, and I have an insanely sensitive sense of smell, and haven't had any issues living with well cleaned and properly painted cabinets.

joenorm

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2021, 08:25:41 AM »
Sorry if this is derailing the OP but what about when the WHOLE house smells awful and its hard to tell where it's concentrated. Friends of mine just bought an old home that needs some major love and I'd say the smell of it is the worst turnoff. Worse than any potential rehab projects within it.

I imagine a full coat of good paint will help with walls. Floor will be replaced. What about the ceiling?

Is it possible to get the bad smell out of an old house? Thanks

SunnyDays

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2021, 04:19:03 PM »
Sorry if this is derailing the OP but what about when the WHOLE house smells awful and its hard to tell where it's concentrated. Friends of mine just bought an old home that needs some major love and I'd say the smell of it is the worst turnoff. Worse than any potential rehab projects within it.

I imagine a full coat of good paint will help with walls. Floor will be replaced. What about the ceiling?

Is it possible to get the bad smell out of an old house? Thanks

Sure itís possible with enough of the house components replaced, but that could be an expensive proposition.  If the owners can identify the type of smell (mold, septic, cigarettes etc.), it would help narrow down what remediation measures to take.  If they canít figure out the source, then just keep removing things without replacing until the smell is gone.

Morning Glory

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2021, 04:25:27 PM »

I imagine a full coat of good paint will help with walls. Floor will be replaced. What about the ceiling?

Is it possible to get the bad smell out of an old house? Thanks

I always paint the ceiling when I do the walls. You can buy special primer that seals in mold, odors, etc.

jeromedawg

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2021, 11:46:16 PM »
Don't want pictures. EWWWWW.

I absolutely want pictures.

Re: cabinets, you don't need to replace them, a good cleaning and then paint them. If you plan to paint, then clean with vinegar and water, and then mineral spirits, this won't leave a residue like most cleaning products will, which can mess with paint.

Do not use any oil product like Murphy's if you plan to paint or refinish your cabinets, it can seriously affect adherence of paint or stain and then your prep becomes a lot harder.

If you do decide to paint your cabinets instead of replacing them, consider something more durable like milk paint plus topcoat, or brushable enamel.

I've rehabbed some hideously stinky wood cabinets in a chronic smoker home, and I have an insanely sensitive sense of smell, and haven't had any issues living with well cleaned and properly painted cabinets.

Sorry if you've just eaten and are now looking at these... if you haven't eaten, sorry if you've lost your appetite.






BTW: this is the passageway into the void space under the kitchen sink/bottom shelf - it almost looks like a clean cut (versus chewed out] to me, so I wonder if whoever built the cabinets or installed the dishwasher made that hole thinking it would give them access to the other side to pass the cord and hoses.


At this point the goal is to pull off that toe kick and clean out whatever I can under the kitchen sink and neighboring cabinet on the other side. A majority of the smell is concentrated under the sink now so I'm anticipating that it'll be bad in there but we'll see.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2021, 11:52:28 PM by jeromedawg »

Malcat

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #16 on: October 10, 2021, 04:39:57 AM »
Wow...that is super gross. So it definitely wasn't just one rat.

Any idea where they are coming in? They can squeeze through such tiny holes because their jaw bones are flexible and their body bones are bendable, so you have to patch up even tiny holes that you wouldn't think they could get through.

Granted, they can chew through concrete if they want to, so they can pretty much always make a new hole if they're determined.

I wonder why the rats are dead? The old owners didn't know about them, right? So how did rats end up dying in a nice, safe location?

jeromedawg

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #17 on: October 10, 2021, 08:04:56 AM »
Wow...that is super gross. So it definitely wasn't just one rat.

Any idea where they are coming in? They can squeeze through such tiny holes because their jaw bones are flexible and their body bones are bendable, so you have to patch up even tiny holes that you wouldn't think they could get through.

Granted, they can chew through concrete if they want to, so they can pretty much always make a new hole if they're determined.

I wonder why the rats are dead? The old owners didn't know about them, right? So how did rats end up dying in a nice, safe location?

I agree - it's odd how a rat would simply die like that when you think about it... I'm wondering if perhaps there was poison involved?
Maybe at some point the prior owner(s) knew there were rats and, without realizing that they were living right under his nose (literally), he decided to remediate by using poison.

There are French doors directly to the kitchen and, I mentioned this in another thread, but I observed the doors to be open often during escrow and rentback when we would go to the house. So I'm pretty sure the guy left that door open a good amount of time...probably for his dog. I noticed too that the wife doesn't seem to live there. I'm wondering if all this is why. I also observed the guy walking around barefooted OUTSIDE on the street (I guess he was staying with a neighbor across from us for a week or so before closing on a condo/home they just bought down the street)... either way, I just can't reconcile that - already we are the Asian people who never wear shoes in the house. Having someone come in who wears no shoes outside of the house is just..... that means he was tracking in dirt, piss, crap, etc from the street and walking all over his house with it :( Ughhhh. Needless to say, it's *interesting* what you can learn about the people who used to live in your home hahaha.

Malcat

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #18 on: October 10, 2021, 08:21:30 AM »
Yeah, I'm wondering if they were poisoned, or if the property was tented for termites before? Assuming the termite tenting would actually kill rats, I'm not sure, they're tough to kill. I've had fully dead, like no question they appeared dead, rats come back to life and jump out of a freezer.

K, just googled, and apparently tenting will kill rats, so that's a possibility, and would explain if the previous owner wasn't aware of the rats. Given his *obviously* deficient sense of smell.

SunnyDays

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #19 on: October 10, 2021, 09:38:33 AM »
I have a very strong stomach and was eating breakfast when I saw the pictures and had to zoom in for a closer look, ha ha.  My first thought was "poor rats."  But living with the smell right in the kitchen would be another thing.  They look mummified, rather than decomposed.  Definitely odd to just die right in the nest. 

jeromedawg

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #20 on: October 10, 2021, 10:25:07 AM »
It's definitely possible it was fumigated before. Perhaps when the current owners first moved in which was almost a couple decades ago. But yes, mummified is the right word
 I could have sworn I saw two baby rats but hard to tell. I'm looking forward to (or maybe not) hopefully removing the other toekick(s) and cleaning out whatever other crap exists...

Malcat

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #21 on: October 10, 2021, 10:43:06 AM »
I have a very strong stomach and was eating breakfast when I saw the pictures and had to zoom in for a closer look, ha ha.  My first thought was "poor rats."  But living with the smell right in the kitchen would be another thing.  They look mummified, rather than decomposed.  Definitely odd to just die right in the nest.

Yeah, the smell would have been horrific, since it was under an appliance and not even contained within a wall. It would have been beyond putrid.

NaN

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #22 on: October 10, 2021, 07:27:02 PM »
Regarding hantavirus - if you are absolutely sure it is a very old nest then likely you have no issue. The virus is usually dead within a week. That is always my rule of thumb after finding droppings is to wait a week or so from hopefully sealing it up. Based on those desiccated remains I would say you are fine.

But seriously, that is some gross stuff. Likely your house was not occupied for a long time to have that happen without anyone noticing.

Malcat

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #23 on: October 10, 2021, 08:03:12 PM »
Regarding hantavirus - if you are absolutely sure it is a very old nest then likely you have no issue. The virus is usually dead within a week. That is always my rule of thumb after finding droppings is to wait a week or so from hopefully sealing it up. Based on those desiccated remains I would say you are fine.

But seriously, that is some gross stuff. Likely your house was not occupied for a long time to have that happen without anyone noticing.

He *just* killed a rat in the house.

NaN

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #24 on: October 11, 2021, 08:20:33 AM »
Regarding hantavirus - if you are absolutely sure it is a very old nest then likely you have no issue. The virus is usually dead within a week. That is always my rule of thumb after finding droppings is to wait a week or so from hopefully sealing it up. Based on those desiccated remains I would say you are fine.

But seriously, that is some gross stuff. Likely your house was not occupied for a long time to have that happen without anyone noticing.

He *just* killed a rat in the house.
Yah, I saw that in his post history last night. @jeromedawg is probably right that socal really only has it in mice. But still, after being sure the house is live rat free I think you can start a countdown and clean up without worry of hanta.

jeromedawg

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #25 on: October 13, 2021, 10:30:13 AM »
I'm just going to have the bottom boxes rebuilt at this point in time. The sink one is nasty anyway. After removing the toe kick yesterday I found 3 more dead rats (or mice...hopefully not deer mice) and a bunch of bedding - these look more recent and a *possible* product of the fumigation. Horrible.... it smells nasty and I'm certain that's a big part of it. I had a local handyman/carpenter/etc come out this AM to look at the cabinets for a rebuild. To replace toe kicks + all cabinets would be $2000 which is very reasonable. I was expecting over twice that anyway. I think what we're going to have them do is remove all the bottom cabinetry, have the pest company come in to clean/sanitize/deodorize/seal, then have them reinstall new plywood shelving, etc. The current shelving is particleboard/MDF so it's soaking up the smell too. The only other issue is the huge subzero fridge - we may just have to deal with moving that thing out unless the handyman/carpenter redoing the cabinets can help with that.

cchrissyy

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #26 on: October 13, 2021, 11:07:26 AM »
I agree about getting rid of the soiled guts of the cabinet and rebuilding them higher quality.
 

I think you need your local version of these guys
https://www.crawlspaceclean.com/
I found them on yelp and used them for a free consult of my attic and crawlspace, with no specific concerns. I hired them for attic insulation, not rodents, but anyway, when they came for the quote the inspected for rodent damage and vulnerabilities. 

I know it looks obvious that your particular rats could have walked in the door.
but IMO you should get this sort of professional to do the cleanup AND importantly, to check every inch of your house's exterior for openings they might still be coming in from.  for example, maybe there is a dime-sized gap in one of those wire grid things to ventilate your crawlspace, and from there they chewed a path through drywall or the back of a cabinet. 

I would pay whatever it takes for an ASAP cleaning service like this to show up today and safely get rid of all the gunk and have experts find the openings and any other nests or damage you don't yet know about.  Get this all behind you as fast as possible. Your new house is going to be great but this needs to stop! ugh so sorry!

« Last Edit: October 13, 2021, 11:11:16 AM by cchrissyy »

jeromedawg

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #27 on: October 13, 2021, 11:15:10 AM »
I agree about getting rid of the soiled guts of the cabinet and rebuilding them higher quality.
 

I think you need your local version of these guys
https://www.crawlspaceclean.com/
I hired them for attic insulation, not rodents, but when they came for the quote the inspected for rodent damage and vulnerabilities. 

I know it looks obvious that your particular rats could have walked in the door.
but IMO you should get this sort of professional to do the cleanup AND importantly, to check every inch of your house's exterior for openings they might still be coming in from.  for example, maybe there is a dime-sized gap in one of those wire grid things to ventilate your crawlspace, and from there they chewed a path through drywall or the back of a cabinet. 

I would pay whatever it takes for an ASAP cleaning service like this to show up today and safely get rid of all the gunk and have experts find the openings and any other nests or damage you don't yet know about.  Get this all behind you as fast as possible. Your new house is going to be great but this needs to stop! ugh so sorry!

The timing and logistics of all this is tricky. Pest company says they need to inspect and seal-off areas of intrusion before cleaning up because if you clean-up and the rodents return then you're SOL and the area gets re-infected again.

We obviously want this done ASAP but it's hard finding first availability.

I also have a damage restoration company who I think would probably do an even better job cleaning things up - he's going to swing by hopefully today.

The contractor I found only has availability over the weekends to rebuild the cabinets - I think this is his side-gig. He said he could demo everything and salvage the veneers/doors/front frames and was warning about having another company do the demo - he was saying if someone else does it they need to be extra careful not to damage the faces because he would be reusing those. Literally, he'd be gutting the cabinets/shelving and updating with plywood then reusing the solid-wood faces to reattach so the kitchen maintains its original look. We'll worry about refinishing/painting for a later time.


For the demo part I'm thinking maybe we should buy or ask them to put up one of those safety tarps/zipper doors that you can tape up to seal off the area. That way when they remove everything its all contained within that area. Not sure if that's as big of a deal but hopefully I can get some feedback from the damage remediation company later.

I think the order were we're going to do stuff is:
10/13 (hopefully later today) - damage remediation/restoration company to come out and get an idea of what he's dealing with then quote for the clean-up
10/14 (all day) - contractor to demo and salvage veneers/faces/doors
10/14 (end of day) or 10/15 (first half of day) - damage remediation company handles clean-up
10/15 (last half of day) - pest control company comes out to inspect for entry points and may start with sealing areas off

But now that I think about it, it might be better to try to get a pest company out today or tomorrow to assess/inspect and seal off areas of concern.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2021, 11:34:47 AM by jeromedawg »

jeromedawg

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #28 on: October 13, 2021, 06:10:55 PM »
Ok so we're having the contractor come out tomorrow. I'm buying clear 3.5mil sheeting/dropcloth to seal off the kitchen area just in case - I asked the contractor if he could be not sure if he understands. i also have provided several n95 masks for them and may put some nitrile gloves out too. I figure many contractors probably run into stuff like this when they do remodels but just being extra cautious about it. I plan to open up all the windows and doors in there and then turn on the range fan and run at least one air purifier in there while they're pulling stuff out. Main thing is sealing the kitchen off so stuff doesn't get into other parts of the home... I mean, all things considered I wouldn't be surprised if stuff already has at this point :T But just to reduce more of it from getting into the air with them actually pulling out those cabinets. I figure we'll let things settle after a few hours before going back into the kitchen in case we want to use the sink or get stuff out of the fridge, etc.

As far as clean-up, I'm really not sure. The damage remediation company may be backed up but might have a window to come in and do the cleanup. If not, I guess I'll be spraying with bleach and doing some minimal clean-up but then will have either the damage remediation company or pest control company fully take care of it next week. Rebuilt cabinets will go in either this Saturday or next depending on how quickly we can get stuff taken care of.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2021, 06:12:26 PM by jeromedawg »

cchrissyy

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #29 on: October 13, 2021, 06:49:38 PM »
I think you're wise to get the pest company out tomorrow
They need to see your place in order to quote a plan and get you on the schedule and I want to stress again, I know you're focused on the kitchen and the open door but maybe that rats are also in the garage, attic,.or crawlspace. You need rodent professionals to check everywhere.

jeromedawg

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Re: Getting rid of old musty smell in cabinets?
« Reply #30 on: October 13, 2021, 06:57:58 PM »
I think you're wise to get the pest company out tomorrow
They need to see your place in order to quote a plan and get you on the schedule and I want to stress again, I know you're focused on the kitchen and the open door but maybe that rats are also in the garage, attic,.or crawlspace. You need rodent professionals to check everywhere.

They're coming out Friday actually. Tomorrow we're demoing the bottom cabinets - the contractor is salvaging all the facing/doors to rebuild. We'll figure the cleanup part as we go I guess.