Gun Safe Odor Issues: Causes and Cures

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If you ever find yourself wondering: “Why does my gun safe smell?”, then you are not the only one. This is a common question for those who own a new gun safe, and it can be frustrating when the smell remains for days. We have compiled some of the most common reasons why this could happen, so let’s get started!

Why Does My Gun Safe Smell?

If you’ve ever wondered why your gun safe emits an unpleasant odor, you’re not alone. Several factors can contribute to the smell emanating from your gun safe, and understanding these reasons can help you address the issue effectively.

Closed Environment:

One common cause of a smelly gun safe is leaving it closed for extended periods, especially in a moist environment. When the safe is sealed shut, the air inside becomes stagnant, promoting the growth of mold, mildew, or other unpleasant odors.

Chemicals Used in Production:

Some gun safes, particularly newer ones, can emit odors due to the chemicals and adhesives used during their manufacturing process. These odors often dissipate over time, but they can be bothersome initially.

Paint and Finish:

The paint and finish on a gun safe can continue to cure for several weeks after production, creating an odor in the process. This curing process can produce a chemical smell that may linger for some time.

Humidity and Moisture:

If your gun safe is located in a humid or moist environment, it can promote the growth of mold or mildew, leading to unpleasant smells inside the safe.

Stored Items:

Sometimes, the items stored within the gun safe can contribute to the odor. Ammunition or other chemicals may release fumes that result in a peculiar smell.

Paint/Glue smell

After the gun safe gets painted, the paint or glue smell will last for a few weeks. If your safe was painted right before its shipment, you might still smell the paint odor. Also, when your safe was in storage units for several months, the smell is most likely not from the paint.


You may be surprised that the most common cause of safe smells is its inside environment. Fabric can become stinky sometimes, but the adhesive is indeed the main problem. This smell is similar to that in a new-bought car, but cars get much more air circulation than safes do.

Read: 10 Best Car Gun Safes

It Is Always Kept Close

When your safe is closed all the time, the air inside can not circulate. As a result, anything in there will become even more “concentrated.”

Low-quality Safe

The quality of the safe may also contribute to its unpleasant smell. FYI, some imported safes sometimes smell a little more than domestic safes. For instance, some safes made in China might smell really bad, and the smell will never go away.

Died Insects

If you store your gun safely in the basement and feel secure that they are safe, let’s give it a second thought. Small animals might accidentally go and get stuck inside. These animals might die in your safe, resulting in a bad smell inside your safe.

Read: Can You Store Ammunition In A Gun Safe?

1 A common gun safe interior

A common gun safe interior

How to Address the Issue:

  • Regularly air out your gun safe by opening it every few weeks to allow fresh air circulation.
  • Use odor-absorbing products like baking soda or activated charcoal inside the safe to help eliminate unwanted odors.
  • Ensure your gun safe is placed in a dry and well-ventilated area to minimize humidity-related issues.
  • If the smell persists, consult the manufacturer or a safe professional for guidance on addressing specific odor problems.
Why Does My Gun Safe Smell? 10 Common Reasons

What Can You Use To Get Rid Of Gun Safe Smell?

Baking Soda

Baking soda might be one of the most effective chemicals when dealing with smell. Some people even store baking soda in the fridge before putting it in the safe to make the most use of it.

Here are some useful methods that you can do with baking soda to get rid of the smell in your gun safe:

Method #1: Put some crumpled newspapers on the safe’s floor. Then place some baking soda boxes in the safe and keep them inside for a period of time.

Method #2: Get some baking sheets and some baking soda, then lay the baking soda on the sheets. Next, close up the box and put it inside the safe. If you try this at night, by morning, the unpleasant smell is gone!

Using baking soda to make unpleasant smells disappear.

Using baking soda to make unpleasant smells disappear.

Note: Keep in mind that when you put baking soda in your gun safe, make sure none of it ever spills or touches your weapons. If this happens, it will ruin your guns and make them become rusty and turn bright red.

Dryer Sheet

A very simple method you can try is to put a dryer sheet in your safe, then remember to change the sheet every month or so. These sheets will make the smell fade away for a few days.


One more simple yet effective method is using candles since they can create a pleasant and comfortable smell for your safe.

Before you get started, make sure that your safe is empty. Place a small candle (it should be a tea light size, smaller than the votive) in a flame-resistant container and on a flame-resistant surface.

Next, leave the safe door open and let the candle burn for a while. You should stay at home to keep an eye on it so no animals or insects can get in your safe.

We would recommend buying Yankee Candle Car Jars, which come in many different scents. These candles are also not very expensive and will last for several weeks. We used to hang up some in our kitchen to get rid of food’s smells.

FYI, those Yankee Candle scents might be strong when you first use them but not annoy you. Therefore, you will not have to worry about being overwhelmed by the scents. The car jar scent will become lesser after two days, but it still smells good after three days have passed.

Other stick-ups or car type units might work too, but the Yankee Candle type has many more choices that are quite affordable and also do not create overwhelming scents.

Some Yankee candle jars

Some Yankee candle jars


Ventilating is also one of the simple methods to make your safe less smelly. We know that moving the safe can be difficult, but you can give it a try. It would be best to have some heat near the safe with forced air to push the smelly gas out. However, adhesives might release unpleasant gases for a long period of time.


Charcoal is also effective in deodorizing.

Charcoal is also effective in deodorizing.

Charcoal is one of the environmental methods that you can apply. Simply set a pan of charcoal used for BBQ inside your gun safe. The charcoal is not only inexpensive but also perfect for eliminating odors.


You can also try using some kind of dehumidifiers such as Damp Rid or Golden Rods container for your safe. The inside air will be brought back to the same humidity level as inside the room. If using baking soda doesn’t work, try these dehumidifier kinds of stuff.

DAMPRID, White Fragrance Free Hi-Capacity Moisture Absorber for…
  • DampRid Hi-Capacity Moisture Absorber Bucket attracts and traps excess moisture, eliminating musty odors from damp areas.
  • The hi-capacity design features a unique Moisture Lock spill resistor technology with a sealed safety cover for a mess free solution.
  • Ideal for larger spaces like basements, garages, and stored boats or RVs, where stagnant air and excess moisture is a problem.
  • Four (4) 2.5 lb. buckets come in a pack, each lasting up to 6 months, depending on temperature and humidity levels.
  • To use, remove the plastic lid exposing the sealed safety cover. Discard once the moisture absorbing crystals have fully dissolved.
Lockdown GoldenRod 12′ Dehumidifier Rod with Low Profile Design and…
  • SPECS: 12 inches long with a 110-120 volt AC plug, 6 foot power cord to protect up to 100 cubic feet
  • EASE OF USE: Rod features attachable legs for placement and a cord with a quick plug attachment to allow for the cord to be ran through the back of the safe and then plugged in
  • SECURE: Protects your firearms all while fitting in the smaller, less usable areas of the safe
  • RELIABLE: Removes moisture from the air in the gun safe to prevent rust build up
  • VERSATILE: Comes in 12″, 18″, 24″ and 36″ versions to fit almost any space

Coffee Grounds

Use coffee grounds to remove a bad smell

Use coffee grounds to remove a bad smell

Finally, coffee is always the number one choice when you want to remove a bad smell. To do this, try to put some ground coffee in a cup and place it at the bottom of your safe; the smell will definitely be gone in no time.

Odor-Absorbing Products for Gun Safes

Gun safe odors can be a nuisance, but the good news is that there are effective ways to combat them. One of the most popular and practical solutions is to use odor-absorbing products. These products are designed to neutralize and eliminate unwanted smells, leaving your gun safe smelling fresh. Here are some of the most effective odor-absorbing options:

1. Baking Soda: Baking soda is a versatile and budget-friendly odor absorber. You can simply place an open box of baking soda inside your gun safe, and it will naturally absorb and neutralize odors over time. Remember to replace the box every few months for optimal results.

2. Activated Charcoal: Activated charcoal is known for its exceptional odor-absorbing properties. It’s available in various forms, including bags, pouches, and granules. Place activated charcoal near or inside your gun safe, and it will trap and eliminate odors. Rejuvenate the charcoal by exposing it to sunlight or heat to prolong its effectiveness.

3. Odor-Absorbing Packets: Many companies manufacture odor-absorbing packets specifically designed for gun safes. These packets contain natural and safe ingredients that absorb and neutralize odors. They are convenient and can be hung or placed inside your safe.

4. Commercial Odor Eliminators: Several commercial products are designed to combat odors in confined spaces like gun safes. These products often come in the form of gels, sprays, or plug-in devices. They work by releasing odor-neutralizing agents into the air.

5. Coffee Grounds: Coffee grounds are surprisingly effective at absorbing and masking odors. Place a container of fresh coffee grounds inside your gun safe, and it will help reduce unwanted smells while imparting a pleasant coffee aroma.

6. Essential Oils: Essential oils like lavender, citrus, or tea tree oil can be used to create your own natural air fresheners. Add a few drops to a cotton ball or sachet and place it inside your gun safe.

7. Silica Gel Packets: Silica gel packets are commonly found in packaging to absorb moisture, but they can also help with odor control. They work best in low humidity environments.

When using odor-absorbing products, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and replace or refresh them as needed. Regular cleaning and maintenance of your gun safe can also contribute to a fresher-smelling interior. By incorporating these odor-absorbing solutions into your gun safe care routine, you can enjoy a more pleasant and odor-free storage environment for your firearms and valuables.

Gun Safe Ventilation Tips

Proper ventilation is a key factor in keeping your gun safe free from unpleasant odors and maintaining a safe and dry environment for your firearms. Here are some practical ventilation tips to help address and prevent gun safe odors:

1. Use Safe Dehumidifiers: Gun safes are prone to moisture buildup, which can lead to mold and mildew growth and contribute to foul odors. Invest in a gun safe dehumidifier, either electric or desiccant-based, to regulate humidity levels. This will help prevent the conditions that foster odors.

2. Leave the Safe Open Periodically: If your gun safe is in a well-ventilated area, consider leaving it open for a few hours or even overnight every once in a while. This allows for air circulation and can help dissipate any trapped odors.

3. Install a Gun Safe Ventilation System: Some gun safe manufacturers offer optional ventilation systems designed to enhance air circulation within the safe. These systems can be especially useful if you live in a humid climate or regularly access your firearms.

4. Keep Contents Clean: Firearms and ammunition can sometimes emit odors due to residual cleaning chemicals or gunpowder residues. Ensure your firearms are thoroughly cleaned before storage to minimize any potential odors.

5. Rotate Contents: Periodically removing and inspecting the contents of your gun safe can help identify and address any odors at their source. It’s also an excellent opportunity to maintain and clean your firearms.

6. Store Ammo Properly: Ammunition can develop odors, especially if exposed to moisture. Use airtight containers or ammo cans to store your bullets separately from your firearms.

7. Avoid Storing Chemicals: Keep in mind that storing chemicals, solvents, or cleaning supplies in your gun safe can contribute to unwanted odors. Store these items separately in a well-ventilated area.

8. Clean and Maintain Your Safe: Regularly clean the interior of your gun safe, including shelves, racks, and the lining. A mild solution of water and baking soda can help remove odors and prevent their recurrence.

9. Monitor the Environment: Keep an eye on the temperature and humidity levels in the area where your gun safe is located. Maintaining a stable and moderate environment can help prevent mold and mildew growth, which can cause odors.

10. Replace or Refresh Odor-Absorbing Products: If you’re using odor-absorbing products like baking soda or activated charcoal, replace or refresh them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

By following these gun safe ventilation tips, you can effectively manage and prevent odors, ensuring that your firearms and valuables remain in a clean, safe, and odor-free environment. Proper ventilation is essential for the longevity of your gun safe and the preservation of your firearms.

What Tips To Keep Guns Safe Smell Good?

Some people complain that their home fire safe smells, and it makes everything inside it smell bad, too. It’s because they have left the safe closed for a long time, especially if the inside environment is moist. So what can we do to prevent the smelly situation from the beginning?

1) You should open the safe once every two weeks to let the air get out. It is important because the insulation might not dry all the way after being poured in. You can open the door of your safe for a few weeks to get rid of any smell that may have developed.

2) If you still have a hard time getting rid of a smell, clean the safe’s interior with soap or bleach. Then, put one or two dryer sheets in there if you have any of them to absorb all the horrible smell. We recommend using Bounce/Febreze because these two are really effective.

3) What if you still have a problem after all those solutions? Well, you’d better have a new safe and start to preserve it correctly.

FAQs: Dealing with Gun Safe Odors

Gun safe odors can be bothersome, but they are not uncommon. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you understand and address the issue of strange smells in your gun safe.

1. How do you get rid of the smell in a safe?

  • To eliminate odors from your safe, begin by thoroughly cleaning and wiping down the interior with a mild cleaning solution.
  • Use odor-absorbing products such as baking soda or activated charcoal, placing them strategically inside the safe.
  • Allow the safe to air out by leaving it open for a period.
  • Ensure proper ventilation in the room where the safe is located.

2. Why does my safe smell weird?

  • A strange odor in your safe could be due to various factors, including chemicals used in production, curing of paint or finish, humidity/moisture, or items stored inside the safe.

3. Do you really need a dehumidifier in a gun safe?

  • Yes, a dehumidifier is often recommended for gun safes, especially if you live in a humid climate. Excess moisture can lead to rust and damage firearms over time.

4. How do you get mildew smell out of a safe?

  • To remove mildew smell, clean the safe thoroughly with a solution of water and white vinegar. Ensure the safe is completely dry before placing items back inside.

5. Can you over dry a gun safe?

  • Yes, over-drying a gun safe can be harmful. Excessive use of dehumidifiers can lead to excessively dry conditions, potentially damaging firearms or other items stored inside.

6. Can a gun safe be too dry?

  • Yes, excessive dryness can lead to issues like cracked stocks, warped wooden parts, or brittle seals. It’s important to maintain a balanced level of humidity.

7. Can humidity damage guns?

  • Yes, high humidity can cause firearms to rust and corrode over time. It’s crucial to keep the humidity in check inside your gun safe.

8. How to remove odor from gun safe?

  • See answer to the first question for steps on removing odors from your gun safe.

9. Gun safe smells like sulfur, what to do?

  • If your gun safe smells like sulfur, it might be due to the chemicals used in production. Air out the safe, use odor-absorbing products, and ensure proper ventilation.

Addressing gun safe odors requires regular cleaning, proper storage practices, and the use of dehumidifiers or odor-absorbing products. Maintaining an odor-free gun safe not only ensures a pleasant experience but also helps protect your firearms and valuables.

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, if you’ve been wondering, “why does my gun safe smell?”, there are a few things that may be going on. Try to figure out the core cause and then sort the problem out completely. It’s not hard to make those unpleasant smells go away.

We hope you found this article informative and helpful. If you have any other questions, reach out to us in the comments below. Stay tuned for more interesting and helpful preservation tips from us soon!

Last update on 2023-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Lisa J Thompson
Lisa J Thompson

Hello, my name is Lisa Thompson and I’m the Founder of Safety Hub, your go-to resource for all things home improvement. In this day and age, security should be your top priority, and that’s exactly why my dedicated team of writers and I offer reliable information pertaining to gun storage, home safes, and so much more. When I’m not running the blog, I enjoy gardening and homesteading. As an avid nature lover, I also love going on camping trips. Currently, I happily reside in the heart of Los Angeles.

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