An odor in your humidor isn’t only unpleasant, it could be a sign of serious issues in the works. This is one of the reasons you should be monitoring your humidor very frequently – check it at least once per week. However, even with diligence, it’s possible that you could develop an issue from mold or just from not cleaning your box frequently enough. It’s important to note that a musty smell might be an early warning sign of mold, so if you smell this, you want to check your cigars and clean or deodorize the humidor using the steps below.
Step #1: Leave It Open For a Few Days
This one might seem pretty straightforward, because it is. If the smell is not too terribly strong, you can leave the humidor open in a well ventilated room for a few days to see if this gets rid of the smell. You could even potentially leave it outside as long as the forecast isn’t calling for rain. If you have a porch with a roof over it, that might not be a terrible place for it to air out. After you do this, consider wiping the inside with a soft cloth and distilled water to make sure there isn’t anything funky in there.
Step #2: Wipe Down Interior with Mixture of Distilled Water and Isporopyl or Denatured Alcohol
This should be the first thing you do if you expect mold. You could also use a strong neutral spirit like Vodka or Everclear. Take a soft cloth and gently rub all around the inside of the humidor to kill any spores growing in the sides. You could also leave a shot glass of whisky or Brandy in a closed humidor and that will cover up scents, but you need to be careful with this as it will add other scents (that of the spirit). Leave open to let dry.
Step #3: Lightly Sand the interior with the Finest Grade Sandpaper You Can Get
This will remove some of the interior wood, expose some fresher smelling wood underneath, and help neutralize any other lingering odors. Once done, then wipe down with plain distilled water or the mixture in #1.
Final Step: Leave Some Baking Soda in a Container in a Closed Humidor For a Few Days
Just like in your refrigerator, baking soda will help absorb some offensive odors. You may even be able to get a pack that has a removable side panel and just let it be for a little while.
The big thing here’s determining the actual source of the odor. If it’s mold, you want to be extra thorough. If the issue is you just haven’t cleaned it for a while, give it a good cleaning and airing. If it’s due to improper storage, very old age or bad quality of the humidor itself, you might want to consider getting a new one. Overall, remember to NEVER use commercial cleaning products in a humidor to prevent permanently damaging the box.