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    musty house

    7 Ways to Get Rid of Musty House Smells 

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    If your house smells musty and have no idea how to get rid of it for good, try any of the following techniques below. 

    But before we get down to the tips and tricks, what is this musty smell anyway? 

    When someone says the “house smells musty,” it usually refers to an old-house smell. While this distinct odor can be off-putting to people if you’re trying to sell a house, this is perfectly normal no matter what location you’re from. 

    Three things cause musty house smells: darkness for long periods, little to no ventilation, and high humidity. The good news is that this smell isn’t dangerous to your health and you could get rid of it.  

    1. Find the Source of the Musty Smell

    You might feel that the odor is coming from all over the house, but in truth, a damp old bed from one room is causing it and spreading the smell everywhere.

    Once you find where exactly it is coming from, it is easier to get rid of the musty house smells for good.

    2. Think about Air Circulation

    air circulation

    First of all, you have to let fresh air in. Sometimes, you only need to open your windows so the funky smell could go out, and fresh air could go in.

    Open all possible entry points (windows, doors, blinds, and so on), as well interior storage like dressers, kitchen cabinets, and other similar closed spaces.

    If that didn’t work, you might need to add fans in storage rooms in order to circulate air. For houses with ventilation fans in the attic, bathrooms and other areas, turn on all possible fans for a couple of hours to get rid of the musty house smell. 


    3. Wash walls, floors and everything in between

    If air circulation isn’t the problem, you might need to get down and dirty for a general house cleaning. 

    • Remove dust – Musty house smells can sometimes be caused by dust. If this is the case, simply dusting off your house could help get rid of the odor quickly.
    • Mop the floor – In areas where flooring can be cleaned with a damp mop, do it for deeper cleaning.
    • Vacuum carpet – You don’t need to hire a professional just yet. Maybe your carpet just needs vacuuming to get the dust off. 
    • HVAC systems – The vents, ducts and your entire HVAC system could also be the culprit to this problematic odor. Include them with your general cleaning.

    Wash your walls as well. When mopping or washing your walls,  use a mixture of water-diluted borax, hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar. This combination removes grease, mildew and dust in one sweep. 

    4. Boil water with Lemon

    boiling lemon

    If you’re cleaning the walls and airing out the rooms, one way to help make the process faster is to boil a huge pot of water and add lemon peels to the pot.

    If you found the source of the musty smell, bring the pot to that area and let the lemon fragrance fill up the room. If you haven’t found which area or furniture the funky odor is coming from, then move the pot from one area to the next until the odor is replaced by this fresh lemony smell. 

    5. Clean or Dispose of Smelly Furniture

    The couch (or other upholstered furniture) is often the cause of the musty house smell. If you left this house abandoned and mold has already formed, it may need deep-cleaning from professionals.

    In some cases, you might even have to decide if disposing the smelly furniture would be a better idea. If disposing the couch is not an option, think about reupholstering instead. 

    6. Address Damp Areas or Leaks 

    The musty smell in your house is caused by chemicals (” mold volatile organic compounds” more specifically) that are present during the early stages of mold development. It isn’t technically mold you’re smelling, but if you don’t address it, it would definitely turn into mold. 

    Damp areas in your home are prone to mold, so if your area is humid, one way to combat this is to invest in a dehumidifier. 

    Leaks from your bathroom, kitchen sink or any other piping can also cause the house to have excess moisture. Check if your pipes need fixing.  

    7. Equip Your House with Odor-Eliminators before Leaving

    Musty-smelling homes are usually abandoned. Maybe this is a vacation house, or a second home from another state. If this is the case and you will be leaving the house again after getting rid of the musty smell, make sure you equip it with odor eliminators. 

    Here are some methods that have been known to prevent the musty odor of homes. 

    • Baking soda method: Open a box of baking soda in areas where the musty smell used to be. Leave it open in that spot before leaving the house. Baking soda is extremely effective at absorbing odors and excess moisture.
    • DIY deodorizers: Combine baking soda with your favorite essential oils and place them in empty air freshener containers. Leave the can or container open in all areas.
    • Add house plants: Some house plants like aloe vera, spider plant, English ivy and Peace lily are known to remove the stale-smelling odor from a room. Don’t use this method if you are unable to check the house for a long time. 
    • Leave vanilla or lemon peels: If you can check on the house regularly, you can leave lemon peels in various rooms. If you’d like a fragrant smell, but can’t go back to the house for a while, pick vanilla beans instead. 

    Choose depending on your situation (or how frequent you can go back to the house to ventilate, and bring sunshine in).

    Now that you know how to get rid of musty house smells, make sure you also take the time to prevent it from recurring.

    As long as you keep the house from suffering from humidity and long periods of darkness, while ensuring there is proper ventilation every now and again, you can say goodbye to musty odors in your homes for good.