Does anyone know a safe way to get bad or musty smells out of an autoharp?

Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
7 years ago
421 posts

I wanted to add that one of the products I used had been effective for eliminating the odor of a dead animal that was decomposing under a fellow worker's bed one summer (the place was using tents as a cost saving measure!). Everyone who shared the tent thought the guy had really disgusting body odor--but they were so pleased that the industrial strength hospital surface germ killer spray made living with him possible when used every 12 hours. They didn't discover the dead animal until the last day when they were packing up and breaking down the tent.

It wasn't me, but my brother Steveand my future husband, Craig, who shared the tent with this guy!

And, no, that spray didn't even begin to help this dulcimer! Tongue.gif




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Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke
Frank Ross
Frank Ross
@frank-ross
7 years ago
33 posts

I bought a MD and case off Ebay that must have belonged to a smoker. I took a small air compressor and blew out all the dust I could get to inside and outside the MD. Do this outside so you don't smell up the house. I sprayed the case with fabreeze and put it in the garage. Several treatments cured the case. I took dryer strips and sprayed them with fabreeze and stuffed them into the sound holes. I also wiped down the outside of the MD with a slightly damp paper towels. Refresh/replace the dryer strips weekly and eventually the smell will go away. Initially you are replacing one smell with another until the smell disapaites over time.

Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
7 years ago
421 posts

Hi Tumbleweed!

I had the same question because I had purchased an old dulcimer that just stunk to high heaven....I don't remember what I paid for it, but I figured it was worth the price to have it as a wall-hanger if nothing else because it was very attractive. It has a wooden case and the case had been "padded" with industrial carpet glued on and that had deteriorated and smelled really bad. I tore out as much of the carpet as I could and then set the case in my garage to air out....that was about 5-10 years ago and it's still out there somewhere....I was finally able to bring the instrument inside the house a couple years ago, but it's in some out of the way place....still haven't put it up ona wall where I might breathe the residual mustiness. Some people say they actually LIKE the smell of old musty wood, but I find it very offensive. At least I don't have to work on keeping out scorpions, as Kristi Keller mentioned! I have to say that I asked for advice here and I think I tried everyone's tips, but nothing except "airing it out" over a long period of time seemed to make any real difference. I hope you have better luck than I did!

Welcome to FOTMD! Lots of good folks here....and we're happy to have one more! Grin.gif

Jan




--
Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke
David Lynch
David Lynch
@david-lynch
7 years ago
35 posts

You could try a couple of shots of Fabreeze Odor eliminator into the sound hole. If you are going to put something inside, instead of cedar chips try activated charcoal. By the way. a small nozzle on a shop vac stuck into the hole will make quick work of getting small loose stuff out of the instrument.

Often just leaving the instrument out of the case for a few days or a couple of weeks will get rid of a lot of musty odors.

Kristi Keller
Kristi Keller
@kristi-keller
7 years ago
85 posts

I too live in the desert so have to be terribly concerned about humidity (lack thereof) if needing to air out an instrument or case. Your instrument's odor may increase when the welcome rains appear.

If you want to put cedar chips or whatever into the autoharp be sure to place them in nylon hosiery so they will all be removed later. Baking soda has long been used for refrigerators and kitty litter and I am sure you could work out a container for it. A small cardboard box with ventilation holes would work. Just be sure to tape the box...

I have put a few cases on our back porch where birds and other critters are sternly advised not to "bug" 'em.

Instruments have gone into the garage or our extra bathroom. If the garage I rig up a pantyhose rig to protect from bugs, scorpions etc.

Good luck. The process can take quite a while but autoharp is a wonderful instrument to enjoy.

Tumbleweed
Tumbleweed
@tumbleweed
7 years ago
26 posts

I just bought one from an estate sale in Florida and the harp itself is in great condition but will need a good tuning etc. I am sure it has been in storage for awhile and the case will need to be replaced. The musty smell from the case is on the harp but not as bad. I have read about putting it out in sunlight but I live in a desert area and it is August, not a good idea this time of year. I have also read to put sage or cedar chips in the sound hole but not sure if I would be able to get it all out. I am open to suggestions on how to clean it up safely and to get the stink out. Thanks


updated by @tumbleweed: 06/08/16 09:24:05PM