How to Stop Your House from Smelling Musty

Musty smells result from high humidity, damp carpet or clothes, mold, or uncirculated air. Must is more prevalent in older homes but can happen anytime there’s excess moisture. Once you identify the source of the musty smells, dealing with the odor is easy.

How to Identify Musty Smells in Your Home

Musty Smells

If you have a musty smell in your home, it’s due to dampness and possible mold or mildew growth. The scent could result from something as small as laundry that’s sat for too long or a bigger problem, like a plumbing leak. Identify the source of the must by following your nose.

Some of the most common places for must to develop are:

  • Showers or bathrooms
  • Laundry hampers
  • Basements
  • Anywhere there’s a leak
  • Around window sills and doors
  • On a moldy mattress

How to Get Rid of a Musty Smell in House: Top Eight Strategies

Eliminate musty smells by dealing with the source of the issue. You might need to try one or two of these must-busting strategies or several, depending on the severity.

Tip 1: Fix Leaks and Broken Plumbing

Without excess moisture, a musty smell won’t develop. The main causes of excess moisture in a home include high humidity levels, water seeping into a basement from outside, or leaky pipes. If you suspect a leaky pipe, investigate or call a plumber to make repairs. Leaky basements are more difficult to fix and may require waterproofing the interior and exterior.

Tip 2: Run a Dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers pull excess moisture from the air. Homes can suffer from high humidity levels in the summer, especially in basements. When a room builds up too much humidity, it can cause mold issues on soft, porous surfaces and drywall.

Fortunately, dehumidifiers are inexpensive and easy to run. You can place one in your problem room, set a humidity level, and it will kick on and off when needed. All you have to do is dump the water tank once full.

Tip 3: Clean Up Mold and Mildew

Mildew and mold give off a musty smell, especially in uncirculated, stuffy rooms. You may have mold on a hard surface like drywall or your bathroom ceiling, or a soft surface such as laundry or carpet. According to the EPA, it’s safe to DIY mold removal as long as the affected area is 10 square feet or less.

To clean mold and mildew on drywall, sealed wood, a shower, or a bathtub, put on a respirator mask, safety glasses, rubber gloves, and long sleeves. 

Then take the following steps:

  • Fill a spray bottle with three parts white distilled vinegar and 1 part water
  • Spray the mold with the solution
  • Scrub with a brush and wipe the area clean
  • Respray the moldy area and allow the vinegar to sit for ten minutes
  • Wipe the wall clean

Vinegar will kill the mold spores and prevent them from regrowing.

To remove mold from laundry: Put the affected items in the washing machine and wash them with one cup of white distilled vinegar. Afterward, rewash with regular detergent and then dry the items.

To remove mold on mattresses, furniture, and upholstered items: Mold is challenging to remove from upholstered items since its spores can spread through multiple layers. A product like Concrobium Mold Control Spray is your best defense. It will penetrate through the mattress or piece of furniture, kill mold spores, and prevent them from returning.

If your mattress or couch has extreme amounts of mold, consider replacing it.

Tip 4: Air-Out the Room

When dealing with any stubborn smell, fresh air and sunshine are the best odor-removal methods. If the weather permits, open your windows and turn on fans to ventilate the room.

Tip 5: Clean the Room with Vinegar

White distilled vinegar is an odor-neutralizer thanks to its acetic acid content. It can tackle musty smells that have settled in the room.

To deodorize your room with vinegar, start by dusting your ceilings and walls. Then, fill a spray bottle with half white-distilled vinegar and half water. Use the mixture to wipe your ceilings, walls, tables, dressers, and other hard surfaces. You can also use it to mop sealed hard floors.

Tip 6: Launder Curtains, Blankets, and Other Fabrics

Gather all fabric items in the musty room, such as pillowcases, curtains, and throw blankets. Wash them according to their care instructions. 

Tip 7: Get a Musty Smell Out of Carpet

To get rid of bad smells from your carpets and rugs, they need to be dry. To dry your carpet, bring dehumidifiers into the room, open up windows to increase air circulation, and turn on fans. You may also want to turn up the heat to speed up the drying process.

With your carpet dry, take these steps to get rid of the musty smell:

  • Spritz your carpet with a mixture of half vinegar and half water 
  • Sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda over the carpet and let it sit for 24 hours
  • After 24 hours, vacuum the baking soda

If the smell remains, repeat the process or hire a carpet cleaning company to shampoo your carpet.

Tip 8: Absorb Lingering Odors

Once you’ve corrected the excess moisture, cleaned the mold, and washed the room, the musty smell will start to go away. You can speed up the process by using odor absorbers.

To absorb musty odors, place small bowls of vinegar in the room, hang charcoal bags, set out baking soda boxes, or try an odor-absorbing gel.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How can I remove a musty smell from my towels?

If your towels smell musty, add them to the washing machine with one cup of white distilled vinegar. After you’ve washed the towels in vinegar, wash them in regular detergent and dry them. If it’s sunny out, line-drying your towels will aid in removing the musty smell.

Why does my kitchen smell musty?

If your kitchen smells musty, there may be a leak causing mold or mildew growth. Another possible cause is kitchen rags or towels that have sat wet for too long.

What’s the reason for the musty smell in my room?

If your room smells musty and you have damp clothes in a hamper or on the floor, they might be the cause. Other causes are mold and mildew growth from a possible plumbing leak or excess humidity in the house.

Why does my coffee maker smell musty?

Coffee makers are dark and damp –  a prime spot for mold and mildew growth. You can kill mold in your coffee maker by cleaning it with vinegar.