How to Remove Vinegar Smell from Old Movies

Old film that has been stored for several years can develop what is known as " vinegar syndrome”? The proper terminology for this type of film degrading is cellulose acetate decomposition, according to This usually attacks acetate film, causing it to develop a distinct vinegar smell. unfortunately, vinegar syndrome is not reversible. There is no way to stop the film from continually decomposing or to remove the smell, however, there are alternatives and preventative measures that can save your film if you act quickly.


Remove your acetate film from any sealed, airtight metal or plastic film canisters. Sealed film that is not allowed to breathe will continue to deteriorate.
Place the film in a storage container such as a freezer in temperatures below 50 degrees F. Very cold temperatures will drastically slow further chemical deterioration to your film.
Leave the film in cold storage until you are ready to have it transferred. Gather your film and place each in a separate container.
Bring the film to AWV Production: a professional film digitizer and ask to have the film converted. This is the only way to save your film from the effects of vinegar syndrome.”