Pro Tips on How to Get Rid of Musty Smells in Your Home

A musty smell in the home is usually caused by mold and mildew growth, water damage, pests, and poor ventilation. The first step in eliminating the odor is finding the source, which can sometimes be difficult if it is lurking in hidden areas like under sinks and inside appliances like your washing machine or garbage disposal.    

Moisture and high humidity are often at the root of musty smells, so checking for leaks can help narrow the search to locate the musty smell in your house. Also, look under sinks for any signs of mold or water damage, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms. 

Once the source is identified, it’s crucial to address the issue immediately, as musty smells can lead to health complications such as allergies, asthma attacks, and respiratory issues. If your home has a musty smell, you can take several easy steps to eliminate the odor and freshen your living space.

Use Distilled White Vinegar and Baking Soda

Baking soda and vinegar can deodorize and remove mold from washing machines and dishwashers. Baking soda helps to absorb odors, while vinegar acts as a powerful disinfectant and can also break down built-up residue. 

To freshen your washing machine, add two cups of baking soda to the drum and use a brush to scrub the interior. Then, run a long, hot water cycle without any clothes inside. Finally, run another long, hot water cycle with two cups of distilled white vinegar.

After the cycle is finished, wipe the interior with a vinegar-dampened microfiber cloth to remove any mildew residue. If you have a front-loading washer, you should also wipe the gasket ring with a cloth and distilled vinegar. 

For your dishwasher, place a cup of distilled white vinegar in the top rack of the empty dishwasher and run a hot water cycle. Then, sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the machine and run another hot water cycle. 

You can also create baking soda tablet cleaners using two cups of baking soda and three tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide with a few drops of tea tree or lemon essential oil. Fill each section of an ice cube tray with a tablespoon of the mixture, and press down firmly. Tip out onto parchment paper and allow to dry for several hours. 

Then, just throw a tablet at the bottom of the machine and run a hot cycle. You can also toss one or two into the garbage disposal to keep it smelling fresh. 

Not only will this method leave your appliances smelling fresh, but it’s also safer for your family and the environment. You can also use vinegar as a natural alternative to scrub away mold and mildew. Its high acidity makes it effective at removing bacteria and grime, leaving surfaces clean and sparkling without the use of toxic chemicals.

When scrubbing mold from your walls and floors, remember to use safety precautions to protect yourself and those around you. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends wearing protective gear, including gloves, goggles, and a face mask, when cleaning the mold. 

It’s also essential to contain the affected area to prevent the spread of mold spores. This can be accomplished by covering doors and air vents with plastic sheeting, turning off any fans or HVAC systems, and closing off the room being cleaned.

Invest in a Dehumidifier and Air Purifier

Dehumidifiers are great tools for controlling the moisture and humidity levels in your home, helping to prevent mold growth and odors from lingering. Air purifiers help to eliminate mold spores, preventing them from landing and multiplying. They also remove microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) from the air, which can cause respiratory distress and numerous illnesses. 

Before investing in these appliances, consider the size of your home and the amount of moisture you’re dealing with. 

Dehumidifiers are typically rated in pints, ranging from approximately 10 to 70-pint models. This refers to how much moisture the unit can remove in a day. A 10-pint humidifier is suitable for a single room up to 500 ft². For every subsequent 500 ft² of floor space, you’ll need to add an extra 4 pints to calculate the right size humidifier. For example, to control the humidity in a 2,000 ft² space, you’ll need a 22-pint dehumidifier.

You may need to consult a professional to determine the best dehumidifiers or air filters and purifiers for your needs. Some dehumidifiers are specifically designed for areas like basements, while others come in portable models that can be moved from room to room as needed. 

If your entire home has humidity issues, you can also find whole-house dehumidifiers that integrate with your HVAC system and are suitable for homes around 5,000 ft².

If you plan on investing in an air purifier, determine whether your HVAC system already has one. Many ductless mini-split systems have air purifier features, so you may just need to purchase a small, portable model for use in rooms that don’t have an indoor handler. 

The EPA recommends looking for a model that exchanges the air five times per hour to find the right air purifier. You should also consider the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), which tells you how quickly the air purifier removes 100% of a given pollutant, such as mold, smoke, pollen, or dust, from one cubic foot of air per minute. 

The higher the CADR rating, the more air exchanges the unit can perform per hour and the larger the space it can purify.

Open Windows to Improve Air Flow

Opening your windows is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve air quality and eliminate musty smells. This helps circulate fresh air throughout your home and can also be combined with other methods, such as running ceiling fans or using an air purifier.

However, you can also easily create an air current to improve ventilation without fans. Open the windows at the highest and lowest point in your house. This will create a chimney effect, sucking in air from the outdoors at the bottom level and expelling air at the top of the house.  

Deep Clean Carpets and Curtains

If you have carpets, drapes, or upholstered furniture in your home, they may harbor dust, dirt, and other allergens that can contribute to foul smells. Vacuuming regularly can help remove these contaminants, but you may also need to deep clean your carpets and drapes to eliminate tough stains and musty odors. 

You can hire a professional to clean your carpet or rent a cleaner from your local hardware or grocery store. When cleaning your carpets, vacuum them first to remove any loose dirt and debris. 

Then, pretreat any stains with a carpet cleaner or stain remover before running the carpet cleaner over the entire surface. For drapes, you can either wash them in your washing machine or take them to a dry cleaner.

Declutter and Clean Every Space

A cluttered home can feel cramped and claustrophobic and can be a breeding ground for dust, dirt, and mold. If you want to remove musty smells, it’s vital to declutter and clean every space in your home, including closets, cabinets, and under the bed. This helps remove any hidden dirt and dust contributing to the unpleasant smell.

When decluttering, dispose of any items that you no longer need or use. This frees up space in your home and can also make it easier to clean. Once you’ve decluttered, vacuum and clean all surfaces, including floors, walls, and baseboards. 

Add Odor and Moisture Absorbers to Cabinets and Closets

Mold and mildew can quickly grow in these areas, so keeping them clean and dry is important. One way to do this is to add an odor absorber, such as activated charcoal, to help remove any unpleasant smells.   

You can also place a bowl of baking soda in your cabinets and closets to help absorb moisture and odors. Check your cabinets and closets regularly for any signs of mold or mildew, and clean them immediately if you see anything.

Keep Your Home Smelling Fresh With HomesNGardens

While a regular routine of cleaning, vacuuming, and taking out the trash can go a long way in maintaining freshness in your home, sometimes you need a little extra to keep your space smelling its best.At HomesNGardens, we offer a variety of tips for keeping your home smelling great. We also offer advice for dealing with specific smells, like musty basements or smoke damage, and on how to organize your cleaning supplies. So if you’re looking for ways to keep your home smelling fresh, browse our blog today!

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