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Old 06-26-2015, 07:09 PM   #1
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Musty smell from old bookcases


About two years ago I inherent two bookcases from my grandparents estate. I helped my grandfather stain and varnish these bookcases over twenty years ago and I cherish them for the memories of time spent with my grandparents. But as with anything there is a problem. My grandparents home always had a moldy musty smell that came from an improperly sealed basement. Since I have brought these bookcases into my home, I am now smelling that same smell from my grandparents home. I thought it would decrease and eventually go away however it has not in just over two years. These are real hardwood bookcases, Oak I think. Any ideas on how to Remove the odor and preserve the bookcases?

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Old 06-26-2015, 07:41 PM   #2
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Musty smell from old bookcases


I got a violin in a case at an estate auction that had that horrible musty smell. I opened the case and put it in the sun for a couple of days and that helped immensely. This was Ohio, in the summer, with low humidity. I also wiped it down with mild soap and water, then Old English.

I have an old pump organ that sat in my g'parents attic for 50 yrs and had an old smell. I used Murphys Oil Soap on the back and inside and used Formsby on the front followed by Tung Oil and the smell left.

Someone should be along shortly with advice.

Are you up for stripping and refinishing the bookcases!

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Old 06-26-2015, 07:45 PM   #3
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Musty smell from old bookcases


No the finish is still superb after 20+ years. Thanks for the reply
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Old 06-30-2015, 11:44 PM   #4
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Musty smell from old bookcases


Murphys oil soap seems to have done the trick. I cleaned them throughly with a heavy dilution and after a couple of days when I leave and come home I do not smell that odor any longer. Now to chase other smells.
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Old 07-08-2015, 06:30 AM   #5
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Musty smell from old bookcases


You can use a home made mixture from 1 part water and 1 part white vinegar. Wipe it all over the shelves and then wipe with a dry towel. Let the bookcase air dry.
The sun rays will help dry out the wood and will remove the musty smells. So try exposing the bookcase to direct sunlight outdoors and fresh air for up to a week.
I hope this will help.
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Old 07-08-2015, 07:18 AM   #6
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Musty smell from old bookcases


Also it will be good if you perform regular cleaning of the case with wood soap product that is meant for killing bacteria inside wood.
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Old 07-08-2015, 08:02 AM   #7
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Musty smell from old bookcases


If there were any old books that came from the home they are often a source of the typical odor.

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