How to Fix a Moldy Humidor

by Juan Panesso
Cigars in humidor


Okay, if you’re seeing mold in your humidor, take a deep breath.

A moldy humidor is not the end of the world. You can probably save a lot of cigars and save your humidor too if you take these steps. Keep reading.

Step 1: Quarantine Your Cigars

If any of your sticks have heavy mold, toss them. You don’t want to smoke those. You might think that the burning process is enough to purify everything, but the reality is that mycotoxins get carried right along in with the smoke. They could then enter your airway and infect your bloodstream.

The cigars that look like they might have gotten a very light mold growth might be salvageable. Clean them off, separate these into a bag of their own, and decide what to do with them later. The clean-looking smokes can be put into their own bags.

Then, put all your cigars in the fridge. This will inhibit mold growth while you get your situation under control.

Step 2: What Caused the Mold Growth?

Mold is a creature that thrives in moisture. Your humidor is meant to be humid, but not soaking like a rainforest. If you have mold, you may have let humidity levels get carried away. Take care to monitor humidity levels. Anywhere between 70-72% is ideal. Iif you’re getting mold, it might be a good idea to target 68% or so to try and manage the situation.

Another issue can be heat. If your humidor is stored on a sunny windowsill, it might be getting way too warm in there. Your humidor should be in a cool, shady spot where it doesn’t go over normal room temperatures. It should be away from sources of heat, so don’t put it right under a vent, or near a radiator or baseboard heater. It needs to stay somewhat cool, or you’re going to cultivate mold.

Step 3: Getting Rid of Mold In Humidor

Okay—now it’s time to cleanse your humidor. First, wipe down, brush, and vacuum if necessary to remove surface mold from anywhere in your humidor. There may be a little mold still on the surfaces after this step is done. The goal is just to get rid of the biggest growths of mold first.

You’ll also probably need to toss your humidifier. It’s often impossible to clear mold fully. Just replace it and start fresh. Remember—it was super wet and is likely a prime source of mold at this point. You don’t want to go through all this trouble and then reintroduce mold to your humidor to start the process all over again. Folks who have dealt with mold in humidors can attest to the fact that it can easily recur even if you follow all these steps correctly. Mold spores can be quite persistent.

Now sand the wood in your humidor. Yes, sand it. Don’t bust out anything crazy like a belt sander. Just grab some paper and get to work, taking away the surface layer of wood and mold. Make sure to get the main compartments as well as any dividers, nooks and crannies, and the lid. This will help ensure that you’ve really gotten rid of all the mold spores. Vacuum out the wood particles after this.

After sanding, it’s time to get some alcohol. We love a nice scotch, but you will also need some rubbing alcohol for your other hand. Don’t confuse the two, or you’ll be headed to the ER. Wet down a rag or paper towel with the rubbing alcohol, and then rub it onto the wood surfaces in your humidor. The goal is not to soak, but merely to get a bit of a layer onto the wood to sanitize it. After fully applying the rubbing alcohol, let your humidor dry.

Step 4: Assess and Monitor

Once the moldy humidor situation is under control, let your humidor dry fully before putting it back into action. You will probably need a few days for your new humidification device or accessories to arrive, too. Keep it open in a dry place and let it become the opposite of a humidor for a while.

Once you’re ready to humidify it again, remember to maintain strict control and limit humidity levels to no more than 68% for starters. After you reach this level, maintain it for a week or so and see if any mold grows. If it does, it’s time to repeat the cleansing process. However, if your humidor is clear, you can put clean cigars back in.

Check out Cigar Direct’s online store to shop for the best cigars to enjoy this summer.