How to get rid of musty smell in basement?

3 Key Takeaways:

🚀 Musty odors in basements are common and can be caused by mold and mildew growth, leaky pipes, lack of fresh air, and excess moisture.

🚀 Controlling excess humidity levels is the first step to temporarily remove musty odor from the basement.

🚀 Using a suitable dehumidifier, removing mold, and making use of natural deodorizers like baking soda and vinegar are some of the ways to remove the mildew smell from a basement.

Musty odors from most mold infestations or mold spores and mildew spores are not uncommon for a basement. Musty basement smells are quite common and something almost all homes struggle with. Getting rid of musty smells is easy and requires an effort that can be attained easily.

In this article, we will discuss how to get rid of the musty smell in the basement easily with the best tips and tricks. Some techniques like methods to increase ventilation, caring right for concrete walls and wall cracks, making use of dehumidifiers, and opening out basement windows, are a few of the methods we will discuss to get rid of musty smells in basements. Let us get started!

Do all basements smell musty?

Musty basement smell is common in almost all basements. Foul odors in a basement are not surprising because of the conditions that basements exist in. Mold and mildew, mold growth and mildew growth with mildew spores and mold spores, leaky pipes and air ducts, lack of fresh air and trapped basement air or stagnant air, damaged porous organic materials, damp basements and damp basement walls and basement windows, clogged rain gutters, lack of direct sunlight, cat litter, poor air circulation in the dryer vent, etc., are just a few of the many reasons that cause bad smells to thrive in a finished basement or even unfinished basement.

Excess moisture and increased humidity level are one of the major reasons that cause a musty smell in your basement but also help with mold spores and mold growth and mildew growth. Controlling excess humidity levels is the first step that will temporarily kill mold and mold exposure and temporarily remove the nasty odor from the basement. Constant check on any moldy basement is important to keep the basement wall and areas free from odor-producing mold. Only persistent attention will help to eliminate odors from the basement permanently.

What causes basements to smell musty?

feeling sick with mold

Basements are places that are darker and filled with cooler air than the rest of the home. Basements have poor air circulation and lack direct sunlight and fresh air. The basement air circulating might also be carrying the mold spores.

The dark and cool environment in the basement is indeed the perfect space for mold and mildew, mold growth, black mold, and surface mold. A moldy basement will have a musty smell. When you take measures to prevent mold with professional mold remediation and consistent mold removal, you will be able to get rid of odor-producing mold and mildew.

The temperatures in the basements are cooler than in the rest of the home. It is a fact that cooler air circulating does not retain moisture as warmer air. The upper levels of the home will have warmer air and fresh air circulating if the windows and doors are kept open. This isn’t the case with basements. Since the stagnant air can absorb moisture more than warm air, the basements become hotspots for mold and mildew.

To remove foul odors from basements permanently, one must find ways to get rid of excess moisture. Since the cool air can absorb moisture, you might be surprised to learn that leaky pipes, wall cracks of basement walls and concrete walls, foundation walls, windows, air ducts, and all hard-to-reach areas could be filled with mold and mildew.

Does a musty smell always mean mold?

If your basement smells musty it can mean that mold and mildew are present. Mold growth can be of different types such as; white, yellow, or black mold. Most mold and mildew release certain foul odors from the microbial volatile organic compounds or certain gases, you find a moldy basement smelling musty.

Expert mold removal and mold remediation can help to prevent mold and mildew. Professional mold remediation can assist you with methods that control mold and can kill mold.

Although moldy basement odors can emanate from mold and mildew, it does not necessarily have to be mold growth all the time. A musty odor can arise from other reasons apart from mold infestations. If the musty basement smell does not leave even after having removed the mold growth, you must call for the experts to look into it. They will be able to locate the reason for the musty odor in your basement and remove it completely.

6 Smart Ways to make your basement smell better [Easy and Effective]

1. White vinegar and baking soda

One of the best recommended smart ways to remove musty smells from the basement and even from the things is to use baking soda and white vinegar. White vinegar and baking soda are excellent natural options to remove mold spores and mold and mildew from the surface of wooden furniture.

Mold growth on floors and a basement wall cannot be treated under the sun or cleaned. For this, you can use a spray bottle filled with vinegar and baking soda. Try opening out the windows to allow some air circulation to take place while the affected areas are being treated.

White vinegar is a powerful cleaning agent that helps with natural mold removal. It can kill mold spores and prevent mold exposure from causing any further damage up to 82%. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar to make the best use of this natural agent. Wait for 20 minutes for the vinegar to act and then use a clean cloth to wipe off the mold.

You can follow up with a tea tree oil solution to make the process effective. Tea tree oil is also a strong disinfectant that can keep mold infestations away. You can finish off with baking soda which is the best natural ingredient to eliminate musty odors. Whether you have basement odors or foul odors from decayed wood studs, or a musty smell in other parts of your home; a spray bottle with white vinegar and baking soda solution or just simply baking soda powder is the best way to remove the musty smells. Keep baking soda spray handy in your home to tackle musty smells anytime.

2. Plastic vapor barriers

Another intelligent way to tackle basement odors and to make a basement smell fresh is to install plastic vapor barriers. The musty smell in your basement can sometimes seep in through cracks or openings in the ceilings, walls, floors, and coal storage areas. Installing plastic vapor barriers is a huge investment to not just eliminate the musty basement smell, but to also prevent excess humidity from building up and mold from growing.

3. Dryer vent

Moisture condensing on the walls of dryer vent pipes can be another reason for high humidity level build-up and growth of mold and mildew. Sealing dryer vents with duct tape can be a way to remove the excess moisture and musty odors from seeping in.

4. Window fan for basement windows

Installing window fans to the windows in your basement can aid in better air movement. They will push the musty smell in your basement out and bring in the fresh air. Window fans are highly effective to send out bad smells and retain fresh smells in the room.

5. Alternative cleaning agents

Baking soda with vinegar is a good combination to get rid of mold and mildew. If baking soda seems of little help for stubborn mold types like black molds, you can try alternative cleaning agents.

Bleach, borax, chlorinated lime, and hydrogen peroxide; are a few of the stronger natural agents. Remember that they cannot be diluted with other agents, except water. For example, bleach mixed with any other agent can create toxic chlorine fumes which are highly dangerous. Take proper precautions before you use any of these cleaning agents.

6. Air fresheners

To replace the musty basement smell with a fresh smell you need a stronger air freshener. The regular room fresheners will not be able to mask stronger odors like cat litter, wet dog smell, and even musty smells from mold and mildew.

Invest in good industrial strength air fresheners if your basement smells musty and you want to remove it.

How to eliminate musty basement odor?

wet baesment

To get rid of musty basement smells, there are just a few tips and tricks or points to follow. The key to avoiding damp basements and the resulting musty odors from them is to be consistent with the methods. Whether it is a finished basement or an unfinished one, caring for a basement temporarily and then forgetting about them is going to lead to a musty smell in your basement. Here is what you can do to avoid damp basements and damp basement walls and the musty odor coming from them.

1. Fix leaks

Weather stripping or sealing all openings and fixing leaky pipes are crucial to keeping wetness away. Even the smallest of cracks and leaks in concrete walls, floors, and windows are going to keep inviting dampness into the basement. It does not matter if you are dealing with a finished basement or an unfinished basement, you must treat them the same and fix leaks to keep the musty odor away.

2. Perimeter drainage system

The best way to keep away groundwater flooding, for water accumulation from rain or drainage from the upper levels of the home is by installing perimeter drainage. Keeping water stagnation away will also keep musty smells away.

3. Get rid of mold

Discard things with mold growth on them like decayed wood studs, plastic trash bags, furniture, curtains, or any other materials that have mold on them. Musty odors that come from mold and types of mildew can be eliminated by removing all traces of mold.

4. Sump pump

Installing a sump pump is another important step to remove rising water that comes through the ground. For both an unfinished and a finished basement, you must consider installing a sump pump. Having a sump pump will assure you to keep away all the water that seeps through the walls and floors in an unfinished or finished basement.

FAQ Section

1. How to remove the mildew smell in the basement?

To remove must smell from the basement due to mildew, you must remove mildew. Using a suitable dehumidifier, removing mold from all the things in the basement, getting rid of other musty odors like cat litter and wet dog smell, making use of natural deodorizers like baking soda and vinegar, and weather stripping are the different ways to remove the mildew smell from a basement.

2. How to find out where the mildew smell is from?

If there is a musty odor in your basement, you must look into the warm and moist areas in the basement. Checking these areas for mold or mildew growth will point out the cause of the musty smells.

Sinks and bathrooms, windows and cracks, leaks, and drainages are the most common places for mold to grow and cause a musty smell.

3. What smells like cat urine in the basement?

If your basement has no traces of cat litter but still smells like cat urine the reason could be sewer gas leak, freon leak, rotten food, house plants, etc.

Doubly check your basement to rule out cat litter and all of the above-mentioned possible reasons that can make your basement smell like cat urine.

4. How to clean a musty basement?

There are many tips to remove musty smells from a basement as aforementioned in the article. To ensure that you remove the musty smell completely, it is recommended to contact professionals for thorough mold remediation.

5. Will the dehumidifier get rid of the musty smell?

Yes, by keeping the humidity levels of any area under control, you will be able to prevent mold or mildew from proliferating. This will help you to stay free from the musty smells. Investing in a good dehumidifier to balance the humidity of the area is a good step to remove the musty smell.

6. Does mold smell go away?

Yes, removing all traces of mold altogether will remove the mold smell.

7. How to get rid of the stagnant water smell under the house?

The first step is to address the issue by removing the stagnating water. Once you have fixed the water stagnation you can look into natural ways of deodorizing the place.

Wrapping Up

With this, we come to the end of the article. We hope you learned how to get rid of the musty smell in the basement and the importance of doing so. Do try the advice listed to keep the musty smell away and share with us tips and tricks that you follow.


About The Author

Olivia — a self-confessed air quality addict — is a home climate enthusiast, fresh air advocate, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about mold extermination. Her work was mentioned in countless notable humidity publications. Previously she was an editor at Mold Remediation.