How to Get Rid of a Musty Smell in Your House

Musty smells in your house may indicate mould or mildew growth. Mold grows in damp, poorly lighted, warm environments, and continues to thrive until you remove it. Dampness in your house allows mould to grow on almost any surface, including paper, cotton, wood, leather and silk. Mold eventually can cause extensive damage to areas in your house, and the mod needs to be removed as soon as possible. Once you remove the mould, circulating the air will help to remove the musty odour.

Examine the house for the location of the musty odours. Inspect areas such as the basement, laundry basket, and shower stalls for mould.

Dry the excess moisture in your home. Place a portable heater in the room, set up portable fans, or dry areas with towels. Removing all the excess moisture will help remedy the musty odour.

Remove the smell from your basement with bleaching powder (calcium hypochlorite). Sprinkle the powder over the basement floor, and allow it to remain until the odour vanishes. Sweep or vacuum up the powder once you remove the odour.

Clean mould from surfaces with hot water and detergent. Scrub the area with a stiff wire brush for best results. Rinse the area with clean water.

Remove mustiness from other hard surfaces, such as tile, laminate, and wood, with a diluted bleach solution. Combine 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water. Apply the solution to the areas, rinse with clear water, and dry the area.

Open the windows in your home to help circulate the air.

Turn on an air conditioner or place dehumidifiers in your home. These will help ventilate the house and remove mould spores.


Always dry washed clothes quickly to prevent mould from growing on them. When mould forms on clothes, it will produce a musty smell. If this happens, wash the clothes again, and add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Discard carpets and replace drywall if they are infected with mould. Mold cannot be thoroughly removed from porous surfaces. Determine where the moisture in your home is coming from. Once you determine the area that contains the moisture, contact a professional to help you remedy the problem.


Always wear gloves and a mask when cleaning mould to prevent an illness. Never mix bleach with ammonia, because it can cause lethal fumes.

Things You'll Need

  • Portable heater
  • Portable fans
  • Towels
  • Bleaching powder
  • Broom or vacuum
  • Detergent
  • Stiff wire brush
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Bucket
  • Dehumidifiers
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Angela LaFollette holds a Bachelor of Arts in advertising with a minor in political science from Marshall University. LaFollette found her passion for writing during an internship as a reporter for "The West Virginia Standard" in 2007. She has more than six years of writing experience and specializes in topics in garden and pets.