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What do you recommend using to clean a musty smelling cellar?

MaryAnn Worobiec
Posted: October 7, 2010

Q: I recently moved into a house with a dug out wine cellar with a temperature of 65 degrees and a humidity of 65 to 70 percent. The cellar smells a bit musty, and I was wondering what you'd recommend to clean the room, and whether this temperature and humidity should be adjusted.—Scott Goodreau, Oakdale, Calif.

A: That sounds like a pretty good set up. To remind you, the most ideal conditions are a constant 55 degrees and about 70 percent humidity. If you decided to invest more into the space, you can look into insulation and a cooling unit, if that's in your budget.

Before you put any wine in there, you should deal with the musty smell first. Make sure the odor isn't coming from any mold, mildew or fungus in the cellar, and give it a good cleaning, but avoid any chlorine-based products, which can end up causing more moldy smells. Air circulation should help (think fans), and setting out a bowl of vinegar is a natural way to get rid of odors. Funnily enough, the best way to deal with musty smells is to de-humidify a space, but your cellar is already at an ideal wine storage humidity. So, if you decide to de-humidify it to deal with the odor, to re-humidify, a bucket of water on the ground should do the trick.

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