House Smell Musty | Why And How To Get Rid Of It

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If you ever entered a house, maybe one with damp corners in it, you might already be familiar with the musty smell those places generate. It’s a creepy, uncomfortable odor that makes us question instantly; where is this musty smell coming from? Is there a way to remove that smell?

Well, we’re here with the answers. In the following, we’re going to look at the possible sources of musty smell inside a house and how to get rid of it.

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Why Does a House Smell Musty

There could be plenty of reasons and sources as to why your house smells musty. You can find out the origin of the smell by checking several possible places. Below are some of the reasons why a musty odor is generated in a house.

Why Does a House Smell Musty

1. Water leakage

If your house has a basement, you’ve got yourself a starting point. Basements are the likely source of musty and moldy smells in many cases. Examine the water traps and water heater for the possible smell. Check the water pipelines for leakage, because leaking water can generate a strong musty smell. If there are drains in the basement, there may be sewer gas generated from garbage and causing the house to smell musty.

2. Mold and fungus

If it smells like mold in your house, chances are, it is mold. Leaking water pipes, leaking roofs, and exposed soil can be mixed up with high humidity to create moisture. Usually, they may create mold and mildew, fungus, and other substances that generate a condensed odor and makes your house smell musty. These types of sources are visible to the eyes most of the time, maybe on a distant corner of the ceiling or on the walls.

3. Spillage and flooding

Accidental spills or drink spills, or flooding of any kind on surfaces like carpet and rugs can create a musty smell in your house if not treated properly. Check your living room carpet, bedroom floor, and kitchen for such long overdue spills that are producing the odor. If you haven’t cleaned them up fast and properly, these sources of musty smell can last for a long time and become very difficult to remove.

4. Freezers and refrigerators

Freezers and refrigerators are other great sources of musty smell in your house. Since these are always running and filtering water by drips continuously, it’s easy for some of those water to get stuck and fill up the nooks and crannies of a freezer. Eventually, they generate a damp odor from some undetectable place you’ve probably never seen (mechanically). They can come from a drip pan, long-frozen places inside, stored raw meat mixed with drops of water, and others.

5. Indoor plants

Yes, you have planted indoor trees for a fresh supply of oxygen and appealing visibility. But did you know that indoor plants are a great source of a musty smell? If you don’t maintain the growth of the plants, or overwater and let them dry, or don’t clean dead leaves and such chances are they’ll join the soil and wet surface to create a musty odor.

6. Garbage cans and bins

It’s no shock that garbage can make your house smell musty. Even though trash gets picked up regularly by cleaning services, they don’t necessarily wash your bins. If you don’t clean your empty garbage cans once in a while, waste food and other remains will stick to the surface and eventually become smelly.

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How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in House

Since we’ve learned a few reasons why the house smells musty, you must be thinking of how to get rid of it. How to remove this unpleasant odor from your house effectively? Don’t worry, below are some of the techniques to remove the musty smell from your house and maintain clean pleasant surroundings.

1. Find the source

Locating the source of the musty smell in your house should be the very first concern in this case. Check your basement thoroughly, your bathrooms, living room and kitchen, bedrooms, and any other possible places to find out the origin of the smell. It could be multiple places, so keep a note as you proceed.

But what are you looking for exactly? Yes, the smell, we know that much. You should also look for water leaks, drain leaks, damp corners, condensed areas of windows, old rubbish everything we’ve already talked about in the upper section.

2. Let there be light, and air

Before you start taking care of the musty stench, prepare the house a little. Open doors, windows, and ventilation point so that air and direct or indirect sunlight can pass through the house. Stuffy houses have more chances of gathering a musty smell than other residences, and airflow will instantly lessen the odor a little.

3. Cleanse or replace the carpets

Carpets and rugs are easy sources of a musty smell. These are difficult to dry from accidental water spills and drips (which happens a lot). Take your carpets and let them have direct sunlight once in a while. If any area of a carpet gets wet, wipe instantly and dry out with a good vacuum cleaner. If in any case, it is impossible to dry out the carpet and remove the damp smell, simply replace them to maintain a healthy, comfortable accommodation.

4. Maintain and keep indoor plants clean

If you have plants indoors, you should maintain them accordingly because the mixture of soil and the plant’s water is a good source of a musty smell. Don’t overwater your plants, clean dead leaves regularly and compost them for reuse.

5. Keep your walls clean

It is important to keep an eye on the walls because damp walls are one of the common reasons for the musty smell. Wash your walls every once in a while, don’t let spider webs or similar substances stick on the walls. If it’s an old house, consider painting the walls as well to get rid of the musty smell.

6. Take care of the water

As you may have already noticed, almost every reason and source of musty smell in your house include the presence of water. Most of the time, water drips and leakage blend with soil, food, dead plants, and damp walls and produce that uncomfortable stale odor. So to remove the musty smell from the house, take care of any source of water your house has.

You can consider these mentioned places or more, based on your accommodation.

  1. Basement: Examine your basement thoroughly for any kind of water leakage and damp water reserve. Check the drains for sewer gas, and pour water to push down smelly substances. Check the water heater, and washing machine, and repair if there’s any leak.
  2. Bathrooms: Check your bathroom drains and pour hot water to clear out accumulated rubbish from everyday use. Clean the drain pipes for any remaining smell, and don’t forget to check the bathroom walls for growing mold.
  3. Kitchen: Again, inspect the drains and clear them out accordingly. Kitchen drains can easily get cluttered from regular use, so try to clean the drains once in a while. Clean the sink and its drains as well. Check for waste, left rubbish on the kitchen floor, corners, and walls, and scrub off.
  4. Bedrooms, Living rooms, and others: Finally, check for any damp walls, corners, or painted areas of the walls that are affected by getting wet some other time. Deep clean using a mixture of water and a cleaning agent of your choice. You can use white vinegar to effectively remove moldy areas and musty smells from your house.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I get rid of the musty smell in the house?

To get rid of the musty smell around your house, the easiest step that you can take is to open the windows and keep the ceiling fans on. If you have a dehumidifier, you can use it to humidify the air. Keeping plants around the house also helps in keeping the air fresh.

Can a house smell musty without mold?

Although a house smells musty mostly because of the amount of mold in the air, there might be other reasons behind the musty smell. The air of your house might smell musty if the way of ventilation is blocked. Also, if the amount of humidity in the air increases, then the air of your house might smell musty without mold.

What makes a house smell old and musty?

There are a lot of reasons behind the musty smell in your house. Most people think that the air mostly smells musty due to the presence of mold, but that is not entirely true. A house smells old and musty due to the lack of ventilation, increased air humidity, and lack of plants.

How do you test for mold in your house?

Testing for mold in the house is easy; you can do it using only homemade products. For example, take some cotton and cover it with bleach. Rub the blackened areas of your house with that cotton. The test result is positive if the area gets lightened in color. In other words, if it lightens, you have mold in your house.

What does toxic mold smell like?

The smell of the mold is quite specific. A mold smells earthy mostly. It smells like decayed wood, rotten vegetables or leaves, and damp plants. The easiest indication to recognize a mold smell is getting a musty smell.

Wrapping Up

We have covered the sources and reasons why the house smells musty and the possible ways to get rid of that unpleasant smell. The end technique is simple enough; avoid moisture and try to keep your house clean and dry all the time. If you can practice good maintenance of your house according to our suggestions, we hope that your house will be damp and odor-free. And you don’t have to worry about the musty smell anymore.

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