How to get rid of musty smell in house?

Musty odor is extremely annoying, particularly inside your home. One of the most usual places to have a musty smell in your house is the basement. Basements commonly store numerous things that can be the source of strong and bad smells. This is often very frustrating and annoying.

Generally, mold and mildew growth are responsible for this musty odors. These organisms particularly thrive on moist areas (like bathroom or crawl spaces) and the damp basement environment (they are usually damp) is ideal for them.

How To Get Rid Of Musty Smell

This musty smell of the basement usually comes in the fall as well as in the spring. This is because the windows are usually closed during these periods and utilities are closed. Proper ventilation is must if you want to minimize such musty smells in the basement as well as your home.

The accumulation of mold and mildew not only result in musty smell but also cause serious damage to your house. Moreover, they can cause major health issues in the long run. Unhealthy home air is the main reason of health issues such as asthma and allergies.

Overall, musty smell in your house and basement can be irradiated by using good ventilation, well-conditioned and designed windows, and dehumidifiers and so on. Keeping the level of humidity down should be the main goal to combat the musty smell. Also, consider cleaning your air ducts at regular intervals and check your ventilation system at least once in 2 years and preferably every year.

As already mentioned it is essential to eliminate moisture or dampness from your home and basement to get rid of mold growth and subsequently musty smells.

Usually, there are two sources of dampness - condensation of moisture and leakages in the water system. If you can smell dampness in your house or basement you have to use dehumidifiers and increase ventilation in the rooms (by opening all the windows and allowing ample outside air).

In case of the basement, even a small leak can create havoc with time. So, ensure your basement is properly waterproof. It is difficult to get rid of moisture when you have a water source in your basement. Since the basement is comparatively unattended, moisture keeps on the building. If you can notice visible marks of water seepage or leakage then get it fixed as soon as possible. Do not delay with such works as molds once set in are difficult to get rid of. Additionally, these leaks can cause damage to the foundation of your house. A regular inspection around the house looking for possible leaks really helps to detect them at the right moment.

For your entire house, it is important to examine it to make sure all the used waters are flowing out of your home properly. It is advisable to extend the downspouts of your gutter minimum of 2 meters from the foundation of your home. Fixing any issues of water drainage or areas where you feel rainwaters can accumulate can help reduce the problem of excess moisture in your home and basement.

Use of Dehumidifier at Your Home and Basement​

Use Dehumidifier to Get Rid Of Mildew Odor

Use of dehumidifier at your home and basement can make your whole home in particular (as the basement receives less ventilation and more prone to musty smells) can help you reduce or completely remove unwanted musty smells from these areas. Use the best dehumidifiers from a reasonable brand for better outcomes.​

A handy method to get rid of musty smell from your home and basement

​The following ingredients or materials are needed to expel the musty smells from your home and basement:

  • A sprayer loaded with white vinegar (diluted by equal amount of water)
  • Washing Machine (anyone will do)
  • Washing soda (bicarbonate) which is very effective in removing musty smells
  • A strong washcloth
  • Any good house cleaning chemicals (any decent brand will do) that you have to apply as per the directions were given by the manufacturer while giving careful consideration to all the safety measures mentioned

When you have all the above materials ready then go through the procedures mentioned below and make sure to cover every possible position of your home and basement (make sure to adapt as per surface and objects):

In case there is a closet inside your room look for the musty smell on your clothes. If they smell bad wash those by soaking them in warm water containing vinegar (diluted) first before regular washing with detergents. For proper washing at correct temperature, it is also important to check the washing instruction given on the labels of your dress

Continue same way with your beddings, drapes, curtains, and other fabrics where mold or mildew growth is possible

If you can notice visible damp spots on the walls (attic, garage, or basements are most common places to find them) delicately clean these sodden patches with your washcloth soaked in baking soda and water. As usual, consider the materials on which you applying baking soda and whether the chemical will be too harsh for the surface. A good option is to test it on small patches and if it works out well then go for the entire areas.

It is, of course, more annoying if you notice mold growth on kitchen apparatuses, and areas of restroom first put a bowl full of baking soda inside the cabinet or bathroom. Do not use the appliances before cleaning it completely.

In case you find that your hoovers, refrigerators, ovens, and other appliances are the source of the musty smell then again put the baking soda inside them. Never forget to remove it from the oven though before turning it on.

Consider using the following tips as well apart from the above process and use of a dehumidifier to remove musty smells from your home and basement:​

To remove mold and mildew growth, prepare a solution containing one gallon of hot water mixed with half a cup of bleach. Empty the blend into a spray bottle for convenience and apply it by spraying the blend around all the vulnerable spots of your home and basement. Clean all the moist areas carefully. Do not forget to keep the windows open while you perform this operation. Apply this blend on laundry areas, cement, dividers, floors, flush toilets, shower areas, walls, and other places that will not have any adverse reaction with the bleach (caution: areas sensitive to bleach may get damaged or discolored permanently).

Another good option is to place kitty litter in open holders in different positions at your home and basement including cellars, storerooms, closets and similar areas. Modify the settings as required. This will aid in getting rid of the places of your house that usually produce the musty smells. Such techniques work well empty, closed up and vacant homes.

A great way of cleaning the floors of your basement is to make a mixture of one cup of borax cleaner in one gallon of water. The blend can be applied to affected areas using a sponge or cloths or cotton wipe and begin scrubbing the areas.

There is another simple yet effective way of getting rid of musty smells. Allow a few dishes or old vessels to be kept at different locations of your house including the basement after filling them with white vinegar. Do not dilute the vinegar instead use it raw. Initially, you may feel the air is full of the strong smell of vinegar, but this will go in a day along with the musty smell of your home and basement.

Another home remedy for musty smells around your house is to put an exposed bowl containing baking soda in the moist areas of your home and basement. One bowl of baking soda can function as long as three months and will keep the musty smells away.

The water pipes in your basement often kept unattended for long and any leakage in the system remains unnoticed. These leaks are the main source of moisture in the basements and cellars. Water pipe leakage at your home also causes water to seep into the basement and remained undetected behind the wall covering and under the floors. This issue can be solved to great extent by using a pipe wrap (preferably insulated). The method is quite inexpensive and a convenient means of keeping the moisture and sogginess away that, in turn, will keep the musty smells down.


Being mentioned all the possible remedies to eliminate musty smell or odor from your home or basement, installing a dehumidifier at your home and basement remains the best options to get rid of the annoying musty smell. The dehumidifier actually removes the cause of musty smells, i.e. the moisture that gives rise to mold and mildew growth. All the other techniques can remove the smell, but cannot prevent it to reappear. So, consider installing a dehumidifier as soon as possible if you are experiencing musty smell at your home and basement. It not only will help reduce the annoying musty smell, but also help you and your family stay healthy.​

14 thoughts on “How to get rid of musty smell in house?”

  1. We have a closed in shower which holds mold on the ceiling in the top of the walls. There is a light but no exhaust fan in the shower area. I thought about a duct free exhaust but thought a dehumidifier may be best. Do you have a dehumidifier that is compact and ceiling mounted?

    • Hi Chris,

      We see your problem. Dehumidifiers are really better than exhaust fans because of its capability to pure air. We have a lot of ceiling/wall mounted dehumidifier, but we recommend a compact size/portable dehumidifier due to 4 reasons:
      – Affordable price (cheaper than ceiling mounted dehumidifier)
      – Small enough to fit in a bathroom.
      – Quiet
      – Lowest energy consumption
      So, we suggest you the Eva-Dry Electric Petite Dehumidifier. It is suitable to your needs. However, remember it works perfectly for a small bathroom. If you have a larger bathroom, you can check our TOP 10 Dehumidifier on the homepage. A 30-pint or 50-pint dehumidifier that is portable with powerful features and long-term durability will worth your purchase..

      Hope our answer can help you.

      Thanks & Best Regards,

      [email protected]

  2. Our mildew smell is strong in our basement. The basement is 1200 sq ft so it’s hard to tell from where it originates. We had a small leak from a toilet above, but we replaces the ceiling tiles and checked for moisture. We’ve had trays of baking soda out for weeks. I could probably get rid of the smell, but I am afraid of getting mold.

  3. a friends camode flooded her house and I lent her my dehumidifier. I got it back and it smells like very strong floral air freshener. I washed outside. But upon turning it on now my house is smelling like the floral scent. I not keen on floral how can I get the smell out of it.

  4. I have purchased 2 – 70 pint Soleus dehumidifiers in the last 5 years. Both no longer remove humidity in my basement. The motor runs great,they both look like new and the filters are clean. So how can I keep from filling up the landfills with these units? The 1st year was great but at the end of the summer of the 2nd year the units don’t remove humidity. I need help. I am very frustrated with this product. Even your reviews state longevity is a problem. Help Help Help!!
    1st model #HMT-D70EIP-A and my 2nd one is HMT-D70E-A. Also my church purchased the HMT-D70E-A in 2018 so I’m pretty sure it will not make it through the summer of 2019.

  5. I have a dehumidifier that shut off after basement flooded…now it will not turn on. I let it dry out for several days before starting it again…can it be fixed or is it trashed.


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