How to Get Rid of Musty Smells at Home?

We might have all experienced that like you are sitting in your home and catching the drift of something that is not very pleasant, and you wonder where it’s coming from. It could be something that lingers in your clothes or maybe even a smell coming off your carpet or sofa?

Although we have an acute sense of smell, the air we breathe is diverse in our olfactory experience. Some people can detect moldy or musty scents in dry areas, while others cannot perceive odors even on a damp and moldy surface. None of us can detect a genuine risk to human health, carbon monoxide.

Whatever the cause of your musty odors, there’s no doubt that dealing with them is inconvenient, especially when you work hard to keep things clean. And because a musty smell may be an indication of mold or mildew growth, it’s not simply a question of unpleasantness.

The best thing is that you can get rid of musty smells from your home and clothes. Let’s discuss how to identify the smell source and what actions you should take to get rid of that smell. So, let’s get started.

What causes the musty smell at home?

Several things can cause a musty smell at home. It can be coming from clothes, carpets or furniture. The most common reason for musty odors in homes is mold or mildew growth in the walls. If no cleaning procedures are successful, this might be the case.

How to find the source of musty smells?

If the musty odor is coming from a specific area in your house, you can inspect that part of the home. While inspecting it, make sure to see any signs of dampness or water damage on walls and floors.

Mold and mildew thrive in humid conditions and require little ventilation, so check the following areas first.

  • Look under the sinks

A leaky pipe or a clogged drain can cause water to collect and grow mold.

  • Check the basement

Basements need to have some form of moisture control as they are typically damp, dark spaces with little ventilation. A musty smell may indicate an excess of moisture in this area, which can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew.

  • Inspect the attic

If you notice musty smells in your home, it’s likely coming from an area with little ventilation or circulation. Because of this, attics are especially susceptible to moisture buildup that can breed mold and mildew. Look out for dark spots on the roof, exterior walls, and ceilings.

  • Examine your bathroom and showers

If you have a leaky faucet or faulty showerheads, this can cause water to accumulate on your bathroom walls. It is one of the most common causes of mildew growth in bathrooms and contributes to musty odors. You can also read our guide about mold removal from the bathroom

Mildew vs. Mold: identification and treatment

Mold and mildew, as well as the chemicals produced by them, are not good for your health or the air quality in your home. The EPA defines mold and mildew to be two different things.

Mold is the general term for a type of fungus. Some molds are better known than others, such as penicillin mold, used to make antibiotics.

Black mold is the form of toxic black mold that grows on moist, cellulose-based building materials such as wood and drywall. It thrives in areas that are dark and humid, like attics or crawl spaces.

Mildew can be removed from clothing by washing them with soap and hot water or running them through a hot dryer. You can also take your clothes to the professionals for deep cleaning if you are unsure about removing mold at home yourself.

If you have found excess moisture in any part of your home or mold growth in some part of the house – it’s time to call a professional for help.

The most important thing about musty smells at home is how to get rid of them completely and permanently. The best way out would be calling a professional team with extensive experience in dealing with such cases. After all, there is nothing worse than the smell of mildew or mold in your home.

Can mold affect your health?

Mold and mildew can affect your health in various ways, depending on the area of your body that they infect. They may cause skin irritation or rashes if you come into contact with them regularly.

If mold has grown inside a wall, it’s possible to inhale these spores as dust when drywall is cut open for repairs. You may also get exposed to mold if it is growing in your ventilation system.

Mildew can be especially dangerous for people with asthma or respiratory conditions, as breathing in the spores has been linked to an increased risk of chronic pneumonia and other infections.

Long-term exposure to mildew can increase a person’s vulnerability to colds, flu, and other respiratory illnesses.

People who have been exposed to mold may experience symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing or coughing up phlegm
  • Headache, a sore throat, fatigue, nausea, fever, and flu-like symptoms don’t go away.

If you or someone in your family has been experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s best to seek medical help. Even if you can’t see any mold or mildew in your home, there may be hidden mold growing that affects air quality and contributes to health issues like allergies and asthma attacks.

What can you do to get rid of musty smells?

Here are a few of the ideas to get rid of the musty smell:

Find the source

First of all, start by finding the source of the smell. The most typical reason for a musty odor in your house is mold or mildew. A musty scent does not always indicate that there is a lot of mold or mildew.

The source of the smell may be hidden in your walls or crawl space. Try to find it by looking a the following places:


Bathrooms are one of the most common places for mildew and mold to grow.

A bathroom that has not been used in a while can be a mild and mildew home. If you have wet towels routinely left on the floor overnight, this may also contribute to musty smells. Make sure there isn’t a leak under the sink.


If you find that your kitchen is a source of musty smells, then look around for any leaks or moisture problems and check all appliances like dishwashers and laundry machines as well. Also, make sure to clean behind fridges, ovens, and other units regularly so they don’t get full of dust.

Living Room

If you find that your living room originates from the smell, then look for water leaks and mold on furniture or behind curtains. Make sure there isn’t any dust buildup under sofas or other large pieces of furniture.


Sometimes musty smells can come from inside a mattress. Usually, this means it’s time to get a new one.

Garage and Basement

Check for signs of leaks and moisture in these places. If you find any, take care of it right away to avoid permanent damage.

If the source is not obvious at first sight, try using a black light flashlight to help you see mold growing in hidden corners or behind cabinets. Do this when all lights are off so that you can accurately see any potential mold or mildew.

Once you find the source of the smell, make sure to take care of it quickly before it gets out of hand and spreads throughout your house.

How to remove the mold?

Once you have located the source of the musty smell, it’s time to remove all traces of mold.

  • You can use a mixture of vinegar and water or bleach solution for this purpose. If you use bleach, make sure that there aren’t any fabrics nearby as it may ruin them. Bleach is extremely powerful, so always wear gloves and make sure to follow all safety precautions.
  • Vinegar is a very effective cleaner with antibacterial properties, and it’s also safe for people and the environment (it will not affect your pets or kids either). You may need to repeat this process several times before getting rid of the smell if you have large areas affected by mold, mildew, or water damage.

If the smell still persists after you have cleaned all the mold and removed any potential sources of moisture. In that case, there may be another issue causing the smell, such as rotting wood or other organic materials. In this case, you will need help from professional mold removers to take care of the problem.

Clean carpets and furniture

If you have a bedroom or living room with musty smells, clean your carpeting. They are one of the biggest sources of these odors in the house due to their ability to absorb moisture from the air. Also, make sure that there is proper ventilation by opening windows periodically throughout the day.

Use dehumidifiers

You can use a dehumidifier for areas with excess moisture in the air to remove them from your home. Also, make sure that there is proper ventilation by opening windows periodically throughout the day. Ventilation will help to remove the musty odor from your property and also prevent mold attacks.

Use odor absorber

There are many different types of odor absorbers that you can use in your home. They work by trapping the bad smells and preventing them from spreading. Some popular ones include activated carbon, baking soda, and charcoal filters.

What if my house smells musty but no mold?

If you find that your house smells musty even though there is no visible mold, then the smell may come from some other source. Maybe this means a problem with humidity levels or old furniture and carpets that absorb moisture in the air. 

How to remove a musty smell from clothes?

If you have clothes that smell musty, there are a few things that you can do to try and get rid of the odor:

  • Check your washing machine: make sure that there is no mold or mildew inside the machine. If there is, clean it using a bleach solution.
  • Wash the clothes in hot water: this will help kill any bacteria or fungus that may be causing the smell.
  • Add vinegar to the wash cycle: vinegar has antibacterial and odor-fighting properties and can help to get rid of the smell.
  • Hang the clothes outside to dry: fresh air and sunlight can help remove any unpleasant smells from your clothes.
  • Store clothes in an airtight container: this will help to prevent your closet from smelling musty.

If the smell is especially bad, you can add odor absorbers or baking soda inside the container to help remove it completely.

Final thoughts

Now that you know how to get rid of musty smells at home try some of these tips. It’s a quick and easy way to improve the atmosphere inside your property, so it feels fresh and clean again.

Moreover, if you feel like mold is growing in your home, contact us for a professional mold inspection. At Moldtesters561, we have years of experience dealing with mold problems. We will help you find the source and help you remove it permanently.