How to Get the Smell of Mold and Mildew out of Documents — Polygon Group

How to Get the Smell of Mold and Mildew out of Documents


It isn’t normal for documents and books, regardless of their age, to have a musty smell. Paper items develop this smell when mildew grows in and between the pages. This generally occurs when documents or books are kept in areas with high levels of relative humidity. By using simple mold remediation for documents, you can eliminate the unpleasant smell and preserve the documents for years to come.

Signs of Mold and Mildew in Documents

  • Pages in books or sets of documents stick together, particularly along the edges.
  • Discoloration. While it’s normal for some types of paper to discolor with time, such as newsprint, mold and mildew create black or brown speckling, as well as yellowing.
  • The presence of a musty smell.
  • Signs of mold or mildew growth on a book’s cover or spine, which may occur on books made with organic materials, such as leather.

Mold Remediation for Documents and Books

When you notice any signs of mold or water damage on books or documents, take swift action to prevent further damage.

  1. Dry out a damp book by standing it upright on a table and gently fanning out the pages. If pages are stuck together, try blowing on the pages from the top of the book or use tweezers and a letter opener to separate them.
  2. With the pages fanned out, place the book in front of a fan running on the lowest setting for a few days. Avoid placing books in direct sunlight, as this may cause further damage.
  3. Place dry books in an airtight container, along with an open box of baking soda. Keep the books in the container until the musty smell disappears. This may take up to a week for hard-back books.
  1. Dry damp documents by placing them on a flat surface in a dry room with good air circulation.
  2. Line the bottom of an airtight container with crumpled newsprint and place a dryer sheet on either side of the container.
  3. Place the affected documents on top of the newsprint.
  4. Place crumpled newsprint on top of the documents.
  5. Put the lid on the container and keep the documents inside overnight.
  6. If the documents still smell musty the next day, place the documents on a flat surface and sprinkle talcum powder on them. Allow the powder to sit on the paper overnight.
  7. Remove the paper from the talcum powder and use a clean, dry towel to wipe off any remaining powder.

If the affected books or documents are heirloom items, artifacts, part of a collection or valuable, contact a document restoration specialist. The goes for documents that have visible mold or mildew damage that you want cleaned, or if mold affected a large number of items. Professional mold remediation for documents, like the kind that Polygon provides, uses advanced techniques and the latest technologies to dry wet documents and safely remove mold and its odors so it don’t cause problems in the future. Because mold and mildew can spread from one book to another, it’s important to stop it in its tracks as soon as possible. For expert help with this process, contact Polygon today.

mold odor removal

Mold odor removal can be a serious issue if you’ve had mold growing in your home. Those characteristic mold odors can leave your entire home smelling musty and as if you have not cleaned your house in a long time. We’ll explain what causes that distinctive musty smell and we’ll tell you how to get rid of it. We’ll also tell you what doesn’t work when trying to remove the smell of mold.

What Causes That Mold Odor?

Mold produces gasses called microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC’s) and these gasses typically have noticeable, distinctive odors. Microbial volatile organic compounds themselves are not harmful but the mold that produces them can be. Mold can cause all sorts of health problems and it can also cause serious damage to your home.

What Doesn’t Work

Let us start by saying that nothing will work if there is still mold in the home. If you think you’ve removed all of the mold but a musty odor lingers, chances are there is more mold somewhere. You need to find it and remove it.

That said, people try all sorts of things to get rid of those unpleasant mold odors. Here are some things people try that just don’t work. These things may temporarily cover up the musty odor but the smell will still be there when the smell of air freshener or other scents dissipate.

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  • Air fresheners, including sprays and plug-in types
  • Febreeze or similar sprays meant to remove odors
  • Scented candles
  • Potpourri
  • Incense
  • Carpet fresheners
  • Opening windows and turning on fans (in fact, turning on a fan is a bad idea if there is mold in the room because it can blow mold spores around, spreading the mold throughout the room)
  • Using bleach or other strong-smelling cleaning products (using a cleaning product that kills mold is a good idea, but only if the mold is thoroughly removed rather than just hoping the smell of the bleach will cover up the smell of the mold)
  • Air Purifiers will remove some of the odors when turned on, but the mold will still be in your home and can still cause health issues.

What Works

So what does work when it comes to mold odor removal? You’ve got to get rid of all of the mold.

  • Use a mold removal product known to kill common strains of household mold. Here you can read more about mold removal products.
  • Remove moldy materials that cannot be adequately cleaned. It is very difficult or impossible to completely remove mold from porous materials like carpet, the padding beneath carpet, insulation, drywall, and soft furnishings like couch cushions and mattresses. Even if those items look clean, a small amount of mold likely remains in the pores of the materials. To be safe, these items should be removed and replaced.
  • Follow this link for more mold removal tips.
  • Look for hidden mold. Mold often grows in hard-to-see places, like behind wallpaper, inside walls, under capers, under floorboards, and inside heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducts. You can learn more about how to inspect your home for mold.
  • If you suspect hidden mold but can’t find it, we recommend calling in a mold remediation professional to help you search. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends having a professional assist with searching for hidden mold because there are health risks involved. As an example, if you pull up carpet or peel back wallpaper and there is mold underneath, you will stir up a lot of mold spores and they can make you sick if you inhale them.
  • Call in a professional if you think there might be mold in your heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducts. It can be difficult to inspect ductwork for mold and special equipment is needed to clean moldy ducts. Most homeowners simply aren’t equipped for the job.
  • You can also have your home tested for mold to see if mold is in fact present somewhere. You can read more about mold testing here.

For Help with Mold Odor Removal

If you need assistance locating hidden mold or if you need help with mold removal, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends consulting a professional that adheres to the guidelines established by industry organizations like the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ask professionals if they follow those guidelines before deciding to hire them). That way you know the work will be done correctly. You can follow this link to schedule a free in-home consultation with a qualified mold removal professional in your area. There’s no cost and no obligation.

16 Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Mold (Mould) And Mildew

Molds and mildew are common sights in heavily humid regions or in rainy seasons. Molds and mildew thrive in warm and humid environments that are suitable for the fungal and bacterial growth that cause them. They can infest almost anything such as your walls, basement, drywall, shower, clothes, basement, porous surfaces and your furniture.

Molds are some of the most common causes of allergies. They could also lead to fatigue and stress.

Mold and mildew growth could strive in various conditions such as where there is;

  • Leaking pipe or damp walls
  • Little ventilation and poor sunlight exposure
  • Humid climates such as rainy seasons
  • Poor domestic hygiene

The removal of mold and mildew could be somewhat difficult to achieve successfully without the right ideas and remedies.

However, you could achieve success in mold and mildew removal if you try a chemical-based mold remover or a home remedy. We recommend home remedies because they have little to no toxicity levels.

Here are some good practices, to observe, when dealing with mold and mildew;

  • Ensure your home and garden is clean and dry as much as possible.
  • If the materials infested with mold or mildew is movable, put them under the sun.
  • Improve ventilation or air circulation in the rooms susceptible to mold infestation.
  • Leaking pipes should be fixed promptly.
  • Ensure you use a nose mask when cleaning out molds and mildew to avoid inhaling the fungi.
  • Clean corners thoroughly as any mold left there could re-establish the infestation.
  • Check out all odors because it is possible for molds to hide behind walls or wall coverings. Clean as appropriate.
  • Baking soda and vinegar are good non-toxic alternatives to get to the root or hyphae of the mold.

Below are 16 home remedies and natural ways to get rid of molds and mildew;

1. Hydrogen Peroxide Treatment

Hydrogen peroxide has powerful antimicrobial properties that make it a great mold removing agent. The non-toxic chemical is readily available and can be used on large areas affected by molds.

Start by adding a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide in a cup of water and mix well. Spray this solution on the affected area until the mold gets saturated. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and scrub the area to clean it.

2. Use Varnish

If the infestation is present on a wooden surface, varnish can be effectively used to get rid of them. Varnish acts as an anti-fungal agent killing the mold and mildew.

Varnish also protects the wooden surfaces from further infestation and mold growth. Besides, varnish also helps in keeping termites away. Scrub away the affected area and apply a coat of varnish to protect it from molds.

3. Grout Sealing

The gaps between the floor tiles are one of the best places for molds to breed and multiply. The yellow stains on the floor or near the edges of the tile is often due to massive fungal growth.

Inspect your house, especially the kitchen and bathroom for broken tiles, damaged grouts and other cracks where water tends to deposit for longer. Seal the grout and fix the broken tiles to eliminate mold and mildew.

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4. Use Exhaust Fans

Exhaust fans are a great way to eliminate moisture from any room, especially for rooms that are prone to have damp walls and ceiling such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Furthermore, since most places, in the home, are the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew, it is important to keep your home dry. These fans will circulate air in the room quickly drying out the moist places and stopping mildew growth.

5. Spray Vinegar

There is probably no pantry that does not have vinegar. Among its many uses, it can be an excellent mold removing agent.

Just put some pure and undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz it on the affected surfaces. Let the vinegar stay on the wall for about an hour and use a soft cloth to wipe off the molds as well as stains caused by the mold/mildew.

6. Sprinkle Chlorine Bleach

This inexpensive mold removal remedy works in an amazing way to help you effectively eliminate mold and mildew from your home.

Sprinkle the chlorine bleach liberally on the affected surfaces and let it sit on the surfaces for some time. Now wipe off the place with a sponge dipped in soapy water to clean all the bleach along with the mold.

7. Apply Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a powerful antifungal agent that removes and prevents mold infestation from your house. Mix 100 ml of tea tree oil with vinegar and water.

Put it in a spray bottle and apply it to the mold and mildew affected area. Use a soft scrubber to remove the molds from walls and tiles. Tea tree oil will not only remove molds but also the bad smell associated with them.

8. Use Ethanol

Molds present on bathroom floor and tiles can be easily eliminated using distilled ethanol. It is readily available in local stores and is usually sprayed directly on the affected area.

Ethanol cleans off the affected area helping you get rid of molds and the serious health risks associated with them. Spray it in the areas prone to the infestation to prevent them completely.

9. Grapefruit Extract

If you are looking for a long-term relief from the mold and mildews in your home, try the grapefruit remedy. Although it is a bit expensive way to eliminate the infestation, it is effective in stopping their growth.

The antifungal properties of grapefruit work in an excellent way to kill mold and mildew effectively. Just apply it to the surfaces affected with molds.

10. Ensure Ventilation

Molds grow rapidly in places where air circulation is minimal and there is an absence of sunlight entering the rooms. Ensure proper ventilation in rooms affected by mold and mildew.

Open up door and windows to help circulate fresh air. This will also allow sunlight into your rooms and reduce infestation naturally. Switch on the ceiling fans to dry out the dampness. An indoor air filter will help in catching the spores and reduce any health risks.

11. Spray Baking Soda Solution

Baking soda acts as a disinfectant and fights fungal infestation in an effective way. It keeps the area dry by absorbing excess moisture while killing the fungus.

Add baking soda in lukewarm water and mix well. Use this solution to spray on the infestation and scrub away the entire area to get rid of the molds.

12. Get Rid of Mold-Infested Items

Some items that have molds may not be cleaned completely, especially if these are porous in nature. For example, carpets that have a severe fungal infestation is hard to clean thoroughly. It is best to discard such items to prevent the molds from spreading to other places.

Severe infestation also reduces the indoor air quality and discarding such items will ensure better health for the people living in the house. Also look for old clothes and towels that have soaked dampness and show mold infestation.

13. Repair Leaks

No remedy, for getting rid of molds, is going to work in a foolproof way unless you identify and fix the source of moisture. Besides, the other home remedies, to get rid of the mold infestation, would be temporary if the source of moisture is not eradicated. Thus, finding the source of moisture and repairing any leaks would help in the long-term relief of molds and mildew around your home.

14. DIY Alcohol Spray

Alcoholic beverages, such as vodka, work well in eradicating mold and mildew from your home. Just fill up a spray bottle with it and spritz over the affected area.

The fungus will not be able to stand its disinfecting/antiseptic properties and will die. Now wipe off the surface with a clean sponge. Apply the solution again if any mold is left behind.

15. Set The Dehumidifier

If you have a dehumidifier at home, you may put it to work to eliminate the fungal infestation. Since mold needs moisture and warmth to grow, a dehumidifier effectively kills them. It reduces the humidity level in your rooms and causes a drying effect which is not suitable for the mold’s growth.

16. Soapy Water

Cleaning the mold infested surfaces with a soapy solution on a regular basis will check its growth and help you get rid of it.

Make a solution by mixing liquid soap and water. Then, apply this solution, with the help of a sponge, on the tiles, corners, and the walls of your bathroom or kitchen. Now scrub off using a mild scrubber and wash the surface or wipe it to clean the area. A regular cleaning of tiles and hard surfaces with soapy water will keep your home mold-free.

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How to Get Rid of Mildew Smell in Bathroom

Consider using essential oils to get rid of mildew in the bathroom.

What Does Mildew Smell Like?

When people say something smells musty, they often mean they smell mildew. Mildew in the house can smell like wet socks, rotting wood or paper. Mildew is an early form of mold and a quick way to determine which one you have is to see if the smell persists after you’ve ventilated the area. If the smell persists then you likely have mold but if it goes away you probably have mildew.

How to Remove Mildew Smell From Towels

As you might expect, the first thing you’ll need to do is find out where that yucky smell is coming from. If you’re lucky, you might find it’s simply coming from your towels. If that’s the case, soak them in all-fabric bleach for about 30 minutes, rinse them off and then run through the washing machine. But, if you spot the dreary discolored mildew spot in your tub, prepare to get your hands dirty.

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Methods for Removing the Mildew Smell

Bathrooms require work. You use them for the most intimate and essential of duties, and so keeping them pristine and clean is a must. But sometimes, despite your best efforts, the slight smell of mildew arises and you realize damage control is in order. But where to begin?


  • Soak a sponge in vinegar or fill a spray bottle to soak the affected areas.
  • Let the solution sit for a few hours on the mildew, then
  • Scrub with a coarse sponge. Have an old toothbrush? That will work too!

Essential Oils

Essentials oils are a wonderful way to get rid of yucky smells while using yummy smells! After the vinegar has soaked and the area has been scrubbed,

  • Dilute grapefruit seed extract it in a spray bottle with some water
  • Spray solution on the mildew to both tone down the smell of vinegar and also boost the vinegar’s ability to kill the mildew.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is another essential oil you can use for its antifungal properties. And, instead of using vinegar, you can simply apply tea tree oil all on its own. It still has a strong smell, but it’s a much more appealing one than vinegar.

  • Dilute it in water in a spray bottle
  • Apply to the affected area
  • Allow it to sit, then scrub away

Preventing Mildew Smell in the Future

Reducing moisture is the key to preventing mildew smell. Be sure to check areas that get damp, like the bathroom, laundry room and air conditioning ducts.

  • Make sure your bath fan is big enough: If the fans aren’t clearing out most of the moisture in your bathrooms after five to 10 minutes, your fans may not be moving enough air. Check the cfm volume of your fan, usually marked on a label under the grille. Replace it with a larger model if it’s too small for the size of your bathroom. Here’s what to do if you spot mold on your bathroom walls.
  • Buy a humidity-sensing fan designed to automatically turn on and off as moisture levels at the ceiling rise and fall.
  • Squeegee your shower every time you use it

How To: Get Rid of Mildew Smell

What’s that smell? The musty odor on towels, tile, and basement walls can be a sign you have a mildew problem. Don’t worry: With a few simple pantry items, you can completely eliminate the odor and stymy future mold growth. Here’s how.

Among household odors, mildew undoubtedly ranks among the worst. And unfortunately, it’s all too common, lurking in the dark, damp corners of your home. If you were looking for a quick fix, there isn’t one. The smell of mildew can literally develop overnight, especially during periods of damp and humid weather. Getting rid of that smell—and making sure it doesn’t return—is an ongoing effort. But luckily, it’s not a particularly difficult effort: You can get rid of that mildew smell pretty easily, using items found in most pantries, so long as you can identify the source of the odor. That’s the tough part. The rest? Persistence.


Essentially, there are four main steps to be repeated as necessary over time:

  1. Locate the mildew growth causing the odor.
  2. Scrub the mildewed area with diluted bleach.
  3. Clean off the bleach and wash any affected fabrics.

Continue reading below for the full details on dealing with mildew odor and preventing it in the future.

STEP 1: Locate the mildew growth causing the odor.

Sniff around. The first step in getting rid of a mildew smell is to locate the source of the problem. Remove impediments to your search. In the bathroom, that means taking down the shower curtain and temporarily relocating toiletries that would obscure your view of the likeliest breeding grounds (e.g., grout lines or tub caulking). In the basement, pack up old newspapers, cardboard boxes, and any other disposables. Focus your attention on surfaces vulnerable to moisture.

STEP 2: Scrub the mildewed area with diluted bleach.

If you’re successfully able to isolate the mildewed area, that means you can spot-treat it without going through the effort of cleaning the whole room. However, if you’ve searched high and low but cannot find any obvious mildew growth, cover all your bases by giving the entire space a once-over.

In a large bucket, mix one part bleach to four parts water. Scrub the walls and floors with the homemade mildew killer you’ve concocted, being sure to sponge away all bleach residue once you’ve finished the job.

STEP 3: Clean off the bleach and wash any affected fabrics.

Scrubbing the walls and floors isn’t necessarily going to cut it, though. It’s not uncommon for the smell of mildew to emanate from fabrics, such as towels, and from other personal belongings (e.g., sneakers). Can the mildewy item be placed in the washing machine? If so, soak it in all-fabric bleach for about 30 minutes. After rinsing it off, run it through the washer as you would a normal load of laundry.


With regular attention and the occasional use of a few household staples, you can get rid of that mildew smell you hate so much, along with the hazardous, unhealthy mold those smells belong to.


Of course, the best way to get rid of a mildew smell is to prevent it from developing it in the first place. An arsenal of tools can help you keep your spaces dry and clean and mildew-free:

  • Install dehumidifiers in problem areas; with the humidity level low, mildew cannot grow.
  • Ceiling fans help keep areas dry and are at home mildew-prone areas like the kitchen and laundry.
  • Odor absorbers like baking soda, charcoal briquettes, and kitty litter are all effective in keeping mildew at bay. Fill a large container about halfway with your chosen deodorizer and leave it to work its magic in whichever rooms you’ve been encountering issues with mildew. Replace every month or so.

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