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How to Stop the Mildew Smell in Storage Units

Meredith Jameson

Many storage units are cold, dark and often damp places that are not opened or cleaned very often. This can lead to the development of mildew in the unit, which can not only damage items inside the unit but can also create a moldy smell inside.

Any item that may contain moisture can contribute to the development of mildew in a storage unit.

However, you can stop the mildew smell in a storage unit by cleaning the unit and preventing the development of mold.

  1. Clean the storage area prior to storing items, if possible. Use a mixture of dish-washing liquid and water to scrub the floors and walls to remove mildew spores. Wipe clean with a damp cloth or mop and follow by drying the walls and floor thoroughly with old towels. Look closely at the gap between the walls and the floor and dry any moist areas there as well. Wait until the surface areas are completely dry before storing items.

  2. Open the storage door and run an oscillating fan to rotate dry air back into the unit or run a dehumidifier inside the unit for several hours.

  3. Dry items thoroughly before placing them into the storage unit. Even items such as couches, tables or boxes may have damp or moist areas that can create or worsen the mildew once stored. Wipe down the interior of washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers or other appliances thoroughly.

  4. Apply a thin layer of furniture wax to wooden furniture to prevent the wood from smelling damp or musty.

  5. Cover items with a waterproof tarp and secure firmly to prevent moisture from developing on or in the items. This is especially important once the storage area has been cleaned to remove mildew spores or smell.

  6. Place a closed container with anhydrous calcium chloride, available at many home-repair or hardware stores, on the ground of the storage unit. Punch many small holes in the container with scissors and place the container in an enamel pot to catch the water that develops as the chemical liquefies. The chemical will absorb excess moisture from the air and eventually liquefy. Replace when only water is left in the container.

  7. Spray an odor-removing spray inside the storage unit. Leave the door open on the storage unit for at least 30 minutes, if possible, to allow the unit to air out and remove the mildew smell. Repeat on a regular basis.