Have you noticed musty smells taking over your home?
Sometimes a distinct musty smell is apparent in the room, and you cannot pinpoint why this is so. While it may or may not be a strong smell, the mere fact that you can observe it should not be ignored.
Humans can sense a variety of aromas even if we do not pay attention to them on a daily basis. And the subtle unpleasant smell could be an indicator of something being off in our surroundings.
In recent times, the time spent in houses has increased for many people. And with this, the spotlight is now on indoor air quality and improvements in the air we breathe.
As such, a few steps go a long way in improving the indoor air. So, let’s find out how to get rid of musty smell in room. But first, take a look at some of the causes…
What Causes Musty Smells?
Usually, the most common cause for musty smells in the house is due to overgrowth of mold and mildew. This is often observed in the basement, laundry room, or any corner of the house that holds stale air. Lack of ventilation and high humidity levels will most definitely make the smell more noticeable.
If you live in an old house, there are chances that the piping and water fixtures have loosened over time, causing leaks in the walls. This could be another reason for the presence of random musty odors in some corners of the house. But this can happen in modern apartments, too, if there isn’t much sunlight in the house.
Essentially, cold, dark, and damp rooms are the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. They thrive in places with minimal fresh air and excess moisture, leaving a musty smell in their wake. The thing is, as the mold grows in the house, they emit microbial volatile organic compounds, which is the reason for the pungent smell.
Also, these naturally occurring VOCs might pose a health risk to the household members causing nasal irritation, headaches, and nausea. Thus, removing the musty smell will also get rid of the harmful effects of these invisible microbes.
10 Ways To Get Rid Of Musty Smells
Identify The Problem Area
MVOCs released from the mold and mildew have a low odor threshold which means even a small population can create pungent musty smells. This is a good thing because a few measures to cover or get rid of the musty smells will be enough for the time being. However, simply masking the smell will not control the growth of mold spores, and locating the mildew growth becomes essential.
Begin by checking the bathroom and kitchen because these areas usually have excess moisture with a musty smell lurking around. Inspect the bathroom tiles, sinks, around the toilets, and walls for mold growth. In the kitchen, don’t miss out on the area around the refrigerator, microwave, and even the trash can.
Additionally, dark and damp spots like a basement, garage, attic, laundry rooms are most vulnerable to lack of fresh air and sunlight.
Dust Everything In Sight (And Beyond)
A combination of dust, dead skin cells, pet dander, pollen, and small particles swept indoors with the wind can contribute to the funny smells. As such, thoroughly cleaning the entire house will most definitely help get rid of lingering odors that cause discomfort to the household members.
A top-to-bottom cleaning of everything you can see is imperative, while all hidden objects and corners need even more attention. Wipe wooden tables and chairs, upholstered furniture, ceiling fans, and even house plants with a clean damp cloth. Also, cleaning mold and dust from the house can reduce allergic reactions in people with sensitive respiratory systems.
Especially with an old house, weekly cleaning is essential to get rid of musty smells, and it won’t take more than a few hours.
Get Rid Of Mold And Mildew
As mentioned earlier, mildew and mold like to grow in wet and dark places like shower walls and beneath sinks. This is because an enclosed area will most likely have limited airflow, thus, making it an ideal place for microbe growth. The good news is you can easily get rid of them with household cleaning items.
Mildew will not survive a good cleaning with bleach, but you can also use a homemade cleaning solution of distilled white vinegar. Use a spray bottle to apply vinegar to the mildew affected area and allow it to sit for some time. Then use a sponge for dipping in baking soda and scrubbing to eliminate the house smells.
Similarly, scrub the area covered with mold while maintaining a flow of fresh air. After cleaning, allow everything to dry quickly to prevent a moisture problem.
Fix Water Leaks In The House
As long as there are constant leakages and damp walls and floors, no amount of cleaning will help fix the musty smells. This is because the walls will continue to absorb moisture, causing structural damage in the long run.
So, check thoroughly for any such areas like the bathroom or laundry room, and have the leaks fixed to remove moisture. A professional plumber can check the walls and roof for mold-related odors. And once the water leaks are checked, and a constant supply of fresh air is available, the musty smells should reduce automatically.
Deep Clean The Carpets And Floors
During your regular cleaning sessions, pay close attention to the hard floors and carpets. Floors invite the most traffic and are full of dust, crumbs, and pet dander, all of which contribute to musty smells in the house.
So, mop hard surfaces like hardwood floors with a damp cloth because dry sweeping will spill dust into the air. Make a note of areas with rotting wood and have them replaced to prevent mold and mildew growth.
For carpeted floors, vacuum the area or use vinegar and baking soda solution in a spray bottle. The baking soda acts as an odor eliminator while vinegar kills microbes.
Increase Air Circulation In Room
Open windows and doors for natural air circulation, bringing in the fresh air and keeping the house well-ventilated. If you ensure constant ventilation of air, the smells will not build up because of the entry of new and clean air.
So, remember, if the house smells musty, removing the old air will help reduce odors even if you follow none of the other steps. Apart from windows, regularly open the curtains, cupboards, and drawers to get rid of musty smells.
Use A Dehumidifier
The climate you live in can have higher humidity levels making it difficult to keep the house dry and free of musty odor. This will, in turn, increase the musty aroma because humid air traps the odors and pollutants and keeps them in the room.
So, investing in a good quality dehumidifier will help reduce the moisture levels in the house, making it a poor environment for mold growth. Keep the air moving in the house, and you will get rid of unpleasant smells in no time.
Use An Air Purifier
Eliminating musty smells is not possible when microbes and pollutants are present in the air. Thus, to increase ventilation and remove microbes/pollutants floating in the house, you could get an air filter or purifier. While selecting a brand, try to get one that destroys allergens while keeping the air moving.
Doing so will not only remove the musty smell but will also control the allergy-related illnesses in your house. Air conditioning devices or air purifiers with HEPA filters will remove most of the particles from the air.
On the other hand, some purifiers only keep the air flowing without removing the microbes. These options may not be as effective to rid of musty smells. In any case, a good air purifier will have specialized filters to remove odors from the air as well.
Add Pleasing Scents In The Room
Once the house is free of strange smells, add any scent of your choice to liven up the area. Use commonly available air fresheners in your favorite scent to make the room more inviting. Or you could opt for a natural air freshener made at home with citrus peels, flowers, and spices.
Alternatively, you could also light scented candles, diffuse essential oils using sticks, or lightly spray the area with scented water. Constant circulation of fresh air combined with added pleasant scents will take care of musty smells for good.
Add Odor Absorber
To completely eliminate unpleasant smells, use an odor absorber in the dark and damp corners of your house. Commercial products are available in stores, and you can hang them in areas that do not receive much airflow.
Baking soda or activated charcoal makes for natural odor absorbers that eliminate musty smells. With these products, you’ll need to replace them in a couple of weeks to make the most of them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Musty Smells Represent Air Quality?
We associate pleasant smells with good quality air, but this might not always be the case. For instance, let’s say you have a musty-smelling area and you spray some strong-scented commercial air freshener. Will the spray really change the quality of air?
Actually, no. These products can surely mask a bad smell, but they do not get rid of mold, mildew, pollutants, dust, and many other odor-causing particles. In fact, a few of these chemical products release VOCs in the air, which are not suitable for the air you breathe.
Thus, if you want to remove musty smells, fix the root cause instead of applying commercial air fresheners. Of course, you can use them once in a while, but do not make a habit of applying them whenever the home smells funny.
Can I Make A Natural Air Freshener At Home?
Yes, you can make a homemade air freshener using only one ingredient- lemons. If the home smells musty and you do not want to spray chemical-laden commercial air fresheners, you can use this recipe.
First, boil lemon peels in a pot of water and wait till the fragrant scent is released. Once the citrus peels have boiled enough, move the entire pot to the problem area. Leave the pot open so that the fragrance of this natural air freshener can fill the room.
To speed up the process, turn on a ceiling fan, and the fragrance will envelop the room faster. After the lemon-infused water cools down, you can put it in a spray bottle and sprinkle it around the house.
Ultimately, if you use the tips mentioned above diligently, you will never have to spend time in an unpleasant-smelling house again. Simple habits like regular cleaning, allowing fresh air in every day, repairing the things that need fixing will prevent mold growth and keep the home smelling fresh.
Not only that, with pleasant fragrances and surroundings, you also ensure a safe, healthy, and mold-free environment for your family!