How to remove a musty smell from a cellar

Written by amanda flanigan | 13/05/2017
How to remove a musty smell from a cellar
Cellars are typically dirty, dusty and musty areas. (Getty creative)

It is not uncommon for cellars, crawl spaces and basements to have a musty aroma. A number of things could cause your cellar to have a musty odour. Stale air and fungus are the two most common causes of a musty cellar. Fortunately, you do not have to live with the musty odour. There are many ways to get rid of that musty smell and freshen your cellar for good.

Examine the cellar for dead animals. Rats, moles and others animals can get trapped in your cellar and die. When their bodies begin to decay, it will fill your cellar and your home with an unpleasant odour. If you find a dead animal in your cellar, properly dispose of its body.

Look for mould and mildew. Mold and mildew is a common problem in cellars. The fungus thrives in areas that are damp, dark and humid; and can give off a musty smell. If you find mould or mildew growing in your cellar remove it by scrubbing the area with a mixture of 30 ml (1 ounce) mild dish-washing liquid, 1.1 litre (1 qt.) bleach and 3.3 litres (3 qt.) water.

Sprinkle baking soda. If your cellar has a dirt floor, liberally sprinkle baking soda throughout the floor. Baking soda is a natural deodoriser. It is relatively in expensive and will remove odours without the use of harsh chemicals.

Place mothballs in various areas of your cellar. Alternatively, scatter charcoal briquettes throughout the cellar.

Allow the cellar to air out. Open windows and doors to the cellar to allow fresh air in. Position fans so they suck the old, stale air out and blow fresh air into the cellar.

Fill bowls with vinegar and place in around your cellar. Like baking soda, vinegar is a natural deodoriser and can remove musty odours from your cellar.

Sprinkle commercial yard and concrete deodoriser granules around your cellar. These recyclable and non-toxic granules will eliminate odours both inside and outside your cellar.


Wear rubber gloves when working with bleach to prevent skin irritation.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear rubber gloves when working with bleach to prevent skin irritation.

Things you need

  • Mild dishwashing liquid
  • Bleach
  • Scrub brush
  • Baking soda
  • Mothballs
  • Charcoal briquettes
  • Fans
  • Bowls
  • Vinegar
  • Yard and concrete deodoriser granules

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