Top 4 Reasons Why Your Gun Safe Smells Bad (What to do about it)

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If you stumbled upon this article, you are likely one of those that may have either recently purchased a safe or have had a safe for a while, only to find that it has quite a smell or odor to it, and you just want it to go away. In this article, we are going to be talking through the top four reasons why your gun safe might smell, and the easiest ways to either resolve them or stop them before they become even more of an issue.

The primary reasons a gun safe might smell is due to the fabric adhesive used in the production of the gun safe, or even the insulation causing the smell. If you have had the gun safe for a while, and the smell is just now showing up, it could be mold and mildew, or even the fact that your ammo might be leaking.

With that said, let’s dig a little bit more into each of these, to see how each can be helped.

1. The adhesive gives off a chemical smell

This smell can sometimes be quite strong and most commonly, you will find it when the gun safe arrives or as soon as you open it. This smell occurs because of the adhesive used to bind together different pieces of the gun safe carpeting on the walls, flooring, or even on the door of the gun safe.

This is much more common in imported gun safes, as cheaper adhesives are used to drive down the price. It is also more common in these safes, as they are shipped over on boats, meaning they stay closed and boxed until it arrives at your curbside (which can take weeks or more commonly months).

Meanwhile, USA-made gun safes use higher-end (and less stinky) adhesives for their carpeting, and it is normally only days of the safe being closed in transit, rather than months.

The easiest way to resolve this adhesive smell is to let your gun safe air out for a couple of days in a well-ventilated area before you fill it up to store your firearms. Alternatively, you could always buy a gun safe that doesn’t come equipped with carpeting and adhesive like this one right here.

2. The fireboard is giving off a sulfur smell

One of the biggest reasons why most gun safes smell bad comes from the fireboard that most safes are used for fire rating. This board is essentially a modified gypsum board (aka drywall). Drywall in general utilizes a form of formaldehyde in its building process, which can give off a sulfuric smell to it.

Much like the adhesive smell we talked about earlier, the easiest way to keep this smell at bay is to allow it to air out. This might be something you have to do regularly (unlike the adhesive smell). Alternatively, if this is something that worries you, this list here gives you some awesome options for gun safes that do not use drywall in their building process.

3. Mold or Mildew from moisture

While gun safes may not be completely air-tight, as many people may think, it doesn’t exactly get much airflow. When the air becomes stagnant for long periods, it tends to settle onto whatever may be below it. No matter what climate you are in, you have some moisture in the air which can cause this issue.

Once that moisture does settle, it will become damp in your safe and can cause molding in whatever it can. This includes paperwork, money, books, and more. Thankfully, some tools can help you out in keeping that moisture at bay (read this article here)!

If you already have mold or mildew, you will want to clean the carpeting in the safe thoroughly with cleaning products specifically for mold or mildew. However, you should be extremely careful with any form of heat, as you do not want the carpet’s adhesive (see above) to let go and ruin your interior.

4. Your ammo is leaking out

I would never recommend you keep your ammo and firearms together, firstly because it is a safety concern, but also because it can leak out fumes into your (not-quite-air-tight) gun safe and can cause a smell.

The smell from ammunition can range from gun powder smell to something a bit more metallic. It is best to keep all types of ammo separated, stored safely, and away from your gun safe to reduce the smell.

To resolve this issue, well, don’t keep your ammo in your gun safe. You shouldn’t be doing it anyways, and this is just another good reason for you to not do this.


When it comes to gun safes and smells, the truth is that many of these smells can be avoided or remedied if you know why they are occurring. This article has outlined some of the most common reasons for a smell coming from your gun safe and what you can do about them.

Whether it is an adhesive smell, sulfur smell, mold, mildew, or ammo smell, the important thing is to pinpoint the smell and take action quickly. With these tips in mind, you can easily keep your gun safe smell-free, and safe!