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Question DetailsAsked on 5/18/2016

Opening plastic boxes from under the bed and in the basement laundry, all have a sweet, sour & metalic smell. What

The smell is strong and these boxes have been stored for up to a year. Some contain paper, some clothes. The house was built in 1948 and has wood walls. What could this be?

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1 Answer


Assuming you know what mildew smell is like - most people would describe as dank and musty, not sweet/sour/metallic, then your answer is below.

You indicated smell is when you open the boxes - so the house itself likely has nothing to do with this. Most likely just plastic solvent outgassing from the plastic boxes, especially if they were new when loaded, and most especially if stored in hot (over say about 75 degrees) location.

Smell is typically from pretty volatile chemicals so airs out fairly quickly as a rule once items are removed from the boxes. Clothes, if they don't lose the smell when aired out, wash normally with some Borax powder - in laundry aisle at store as a powder in box, NOT Boraxo Soap - which is an abrasive hand soap. I have found some Chinese import plastics have very high amounts of outgassing, even enough to damage contents, whereas other better brandname ones like Sterlite not very much.

To reduce it somewhat you can wash the containers out with very hot soapy water, but that only reduces the surficial smell, does not eliminate the outgassing.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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