How to Get Mold Smell Out of Wood?

Updated on September 10, 2008
J.G. asks from Albany, OR
13 answers

Three months ago my kitchen sink was leaking just a little bit around the seal. I did not notice it for some time -- actually until I smell the musty odor. The small leak has now been fixed so the wooden area under the sink is no longer getting wet.

My problem is that mold has grown in the moist wood and I cannot get rid of all of it or the odor. The area is very dry now but every time I open that cupboard it smells very musty.

I have scrubbed the area many times with a bleach solution and let it dry but that has not helped with the odor but it did get rid of the surface mold.

Does anyone have any ideas?

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C.P.

answers from Bellingham on

A temproary fix is to paint the inside of the cupboard with a product called KIllz. I moved into a place that had many cats prior and the landlord painted the floor under the carpet with this stuff and the place no longer smelled like cat pee (after the carpet was replaced)

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Z.A.

answers from Seattle on

I'm afraid to say it, but sounds like you're going to need to replace the wood.

If it's just the area on the bottom, it should be fairly easy to do...but make sure to check the floor underneath it for water damage also.

After having to consult mold experts (we had toxic mold in the walls of the last house we rented, caused by a leak in the plumbing that had been fixed ages before), we found that the high humidity in the W. Washington area can actually keep established mold alive and growing even if a leak has been fixed. If you just cover an area up, you'll be risking having the mold spread into the rest of your wood & drywall in the house.

Remember :

- If you can smell it...you're inhaling spores. (The toxic kind is RARE, but inhaling other kinds of mold aren't great for us either.)
- Wood rot sucks. It's better to replace a small thing now (and check to make sure no structural elements got hit), than to deal with a larger problem later.

www.thisoldhouse.com has many useful articles, both about replacing damaged elements, and about mold (much of the reconstruction of Katrina has to deal with this pervasive issue).

Good Luck!
~Z.

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J.O.

answers from Richland on

Hi J.,

I'd try painting it with KILZ. It's a simple primer found at Wal-Mart or Home Depot.

Good Luck!

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A.D.

answers from Portland on

J.,
You got some great ideas, but my strong opinion is to remove the wood. Mold grows very quickly into porous areas and can cause serious health problems including death.

I find that most people are lazy and cheap and want to take the easy way out. Treating the wood is only putting a band-aid on the issue. The mold may even have gone as far as the sheetrock and there you have another problem and that's dry rot.

Take careful consideration for you and your childs' health and replace the wood and check for dry rot.

Be well.

1 mom found this helpful

C.P.

answers from Bellingham on

A temproary fix is to paint the inside of the cupboard with a product called KIllz. I moved into a place that had many cats prior and the landlord painted the floor under the carpet with this stuff and the place no longer smelled like cat pee (after the carpet was replaced)

1 mom found this helpful
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H.B.

answers from Seattle on

I don't think it's just a smell issue - you probably need to remove all the wood that had molded, check behind it for trapped mold, remove anything that is moldy and replace it. It can spread and is not good - not good for you, and would be red-flagged in a home inspection if you sold your house. You don't want it compromising the structure of your house, or other parts of your kitchen, and just covering it up or getting rid of the smell will not remedy the problem. Good luck!

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J.K.

answers from Portland on

We had a similar problem...used Kilz (comes in spray or paint form) found in the paint section of Home Depot and it worked perfectly!

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T.F.

answers from Eugene on

In the house that we are living in, we had a horrible leak on our roof, my dad tried and tried to fix it and patch it and it just kept on leaking. They replaced the sheetrock and everything in the bathroom. Well, the leak wasn't fixed and the mold came back, we had to wait until this summer to get it fixed. Well, I agree with the gal that said to remove the wood and check the sheetrock behind it. To see if there is any damage from the leak. It can definately lead to dry rot and that can be costly in the long run. Anyway - my point is that the newer sheetrock was still sturdy so my parents cleaned off the mold and painted Killz on it.

W.C.

answers from Seattle on

You have to replace the wood. That is not what you want to hear. If you don't replace the wood, the smell will grow and get worse. Washing it is the worse thing you can do. You will have to find a handy man or carpenter to replace it. Make sure he replaces all of the soft wood. Otherwise it will spread.

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K.K.

answers from Portland on

I would try using a sealer/primer product. I have used "Kilz" and have had wonderful results. I used to work as a property manager and we have used "Kilz" many times. Be sure to ventilate the area very well. Once the paint is dry you shouldn't have any more issues with the smell. For a job this size I would purchase the "Kilz" in an aerosol can. You should be able to find it at the Homedepot or Fred Meyers. Good Luck! K.

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D.L.

answers from Seattle on

D. to the rescue! try using a water and vinegar and or lemon with water,, and then just spray it all around the wood,, soak it,, then put a heater on it to dry it slowly,, as not to over dry it fast,, do it slow so it dries really slow ,, good luck,, D.

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P.M.

answers from Portland on

Whatever else you decide to do, please DON'T use any more chlorine bleach, which interacts with organic molecules (like those in wood) and creates dioxins, which are among the most toxic, dangerous, and enduring pollutants humans create.

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M.M.

answers from Seattle on

My husband and I own a company called Clean Earth which manufactures environmentally responsible products. Our headliner product is called PureAyre - it's an odor eliminator made with organic enzymes and it works really well on mold as well as any odor yet it's safe enough to spray around pets and babys. Go to www.pureayre.com and click on the instructions tab. You may want to get the Marine formula since it's a bit of a stronger concentration for gas, oil and mold odors on boats.
Feel free to email me directly with any questions - ____@____.com. Thanks!

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L.M.

answers from Yakima on

Have you tried some vinegar (white) solution? I have heard that vinegar solution will take mold smell out. Another thing is to wipe it down with pure vanilla. Vanilla takes out alot of smells.
They have mold removers...I have never tried any of them but I would guess that you can get them at Lowe's.
That is so annoying...I hate the smell of mold and am very allergic to it.
My daughter swears by using SHOUT on removing mold smells. You might try that. But she uses shout to claean he bathroom too...it works great on the sinks. I am going to try it in my toilet. She sprays it on the ring and lets it sit...her toilet is nice and white and she has hard water.
Hope you find something that helps. If none of these help I would look in the bathroom department for mold removers. It is hard I know when it gets into the grain of the wood.
If nothing else works I think I would try taking a sander to the wood and then sealing it with a sealer stain. L.

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