Removing Musty Smells from Upholstery

by Cassandra Merkling
(last updated February 6, 2017)

Aside from the obvious Febreze, which temporarily contains the smell so that you cannot smell it, a good way to remove a musty smell from your upholstery is to sprinkle baking soda on it and let it sit for a while before you vacuum it off. If you want to get fancy, you can buy carpet deodorizer, but I think plain old baking soda will work well because it comes without any kind of perfumes to cover up what odor it does not catch, giving you the chance to keep working on the musty smell until it is really, truly gone.

You can also try out the method of wiping a mixture of white vinegar and water (one part to three parts) on your upholstery with a sponge. The sponge does not need to be totally saturated, but you will need to make sure it is fairly damp so you can get some of the mixture on all surfaces of your upholstery. Blot excess moisture away with an absorbent towel (paper works well).

Another idea is to simply set your cushions outside to get fresh air and sunshine on them, since UV light kills off mold, bacteria and the like, but there is also the approach that you can take to really clean the upholstery with a good vacuum and possibly a steam treatment. You can rent the appliances required for vacuuming and upholstery steaming on your own, or you can hire a professional to do the job for you.

I have also recently learned of the technique of mixing a quarter to a half a cup of baking soda with two cups of water and two cups of vinegar in a big bucket (at least a gallon, as the mixture will foam up) to make a mixture you can apply to your upholstery with a soft scrub brush or sponge (taking care not to get too much liquid deep into the upholstery where it cannot evaporate) and then leaving it to dry. If the smell remains in a few days, repeat the procedure. I have not tried this, but it combines two favorite deodorizing ingredients (vinegar and baking soda), so I thought I'd put it here for you to think about trying.

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