Musty, what does that mean?
February 13, 2007 3:06 PM   Subscribe

Can you describe what mold smells like without using the word musty?

I have just moved into a new apartment and it has a smell that I have not been able to get rid of. I've been trying to identify it but I've never been very good at smells.

If I had to describe it, I would call it a sweet smell.
posted by 517 to Home & Garden (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sort of sweet, with an undertone of smoke and maybe a hint of that burning dust smell when you run the heater for the first time in the winter.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:13 PM on February 13, 2007


minty?
posted by jknecht at 3:13 PM on February 13, 2007


Earth rot humus.
Organic pungent earth.
Tautology much.
posted by peacay at 3:14 PM on February 13, 2007


Dank, corpsey flowers; honeyed foulness; cloying fungal perfume; nauseous sweetness; stagnant rosewater; sweet whiffy reek. Dead bread. Baked death.

(Disclaimer: I live in the Pacific Northwest and have basement issues and work from home and am going out of my goddamned mind.)
posted by melissa may at 3:20 PM on February 13, 2007


My mom always called it moufa, although we did accuse her of making up words.
posted by sweetmarie at 3:21 PM on February 13, 2007


Sorry for stating the obvious, but have you tried a thesaurus? Musty - Moldy
posted by afx237vi at 3:24 PM on February 13, 2007


dusty
stale
ticklish
foggy
damp
mildewy
posted by twistofrhyme at 3:25 PM on February 13, 2007


Sorry for stating the obvious...

It was the first place I looked.

It really isn't the words that I am interested in, it is a description of the actual smell of mold that doesn't make reference to the mold itself, ie musty, moldy.

I just don't know what it smells like.
posted by 517 at 3:29 PM on February 13, 2007


Overpriced whiskey.
posted by GuyZero at 3:30 PM on February 13, 2007


Fungal?
posted by sourwookie at 3:30 PM on February 13, 2007


Acrid lavender, or lavender and wet cigarette butts.
posted by jamjam at 3:35 PM on February 13, 2007


A hot summer rain, on day-old, dusty roadkill. Vinegarey bar-sweat and cumin. A Starbucks breve douche.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:35 PM on February 13, 2007


On preview, I think jamjam has it. Lavender and wet cigarette butts is perfect.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:37 PM on February 13, 2007


It smells like my grandparents' basement...but you've probably never been there. Have you?
posted by AlliKat75 at 3:43 PM on February 13, 2007


Green.
posted by Ugh at 3:47 PM on February 13, 2007


earthy
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 3:51 PM on February 13, 2007


Stale, loamy. 'Like old books', or 'like a basement' depending on the dryness of it. Bread mold, versus other kinds, is more of a stale/dusty smell, with less of the loaminess.
posted by cobaltnine at 3:53 PM on February 13, 2007


i guess it depends on the kind of mold. that moldy basement smell always seemed kinda powdery to me.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 3:54 PM on February 13, 2007


On re-reading the question, you were serious.

I find it usually smells wet, even if it's dry... like wet paper. Soak a phone book in your sink and leave it in a bag, someplace warm for a couple of days. It smells like that.
posted by GuyZero at 3:59 PM on February 13, 2007


I had a friend who thought cilantro was revolting, because to her, cilantro smelled like her family's dank, moldy basement. I love cilantro, but now whenever I taste or smell it, I can totally see what she means - it does have a musty smell. Does "cilantro" describe your smell?
posted by peep at 4:06 PM on February 13, 2007


Got an old cleaning sponge? Something you use to muck spills around the sink and don't use otherwise? If it's worn to colorlessness and has a vaguely jellylike feel when it's wet, take a deep sniff -- that's mustiness.
posted by ardgedee at 4:13 PM on February 13, 2007


Constricting
posted by fire&wings at 4:29 PM on February 13, 2007


Is it possible the apartment was inhabited by smokers and the sweet smell is a result of whatever was used to attempt to get the smell of smoke out? I have encountered this in apartments I think, and in other places (e.g. in used cars previously owned by smokers).

I personally wouldn't have described the smell of mold as sweet, but there are a lot of different varieties of mold.
posted by advil at 4:37 PM on February 13, 2007


Peep, you might be interested in an item about cilantro from the Oxford Companion to Food:

The very name coriander [another name for cilantro as well as the familiar spice] is said to be derived from the Greek word koris, meaning bed-bug. The foliage of the plant, and its seeds in the unripe stage, have an odour which has been compared with the smell of bug-infested bed clothes.
posted by jamjam at 4:47 PM on February 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would think that it depends upon the type of mold, but the one I personally have the most experience with is something along the lines of rotting dog carcass covered in fermenting seaweed.
posted by gaiamark at 5:30 PM on February 13, 2007


Ohh, it depends, there are many molds. But no one's said Walnuts.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:20 PM on February 13, 2007


wet skin of a first-grader.
dog in lake.
a moth on cheese at a summer wedding.
nana's kleenex; her long-dead purse; the attic.
those missing pitas in the Buick's trunk, pining for the kitchen.
posted by Dizzy at 7:06 PM on February 13, 2007


... [H]oneyed [F]oulness, ... [S]tagnant [R]osewater, [S]weet [W]hiffy [R]eek ...

I herely nominate melissa may to name all future Bond Girls (good and eee-vil).
posted by rob511 at 7:14 PM on February 13, 2007


hereby
posted by rob511 at 7:15 PM on February 13, 2007


Does it make you sneeze? That's always my reaction to moldy abodes.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:49 PM on February 13, 2007


Grassy
posted by rxrfrx at 7:54 AM on February 14, 2007


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