How to Remove Mildew Smell From a Kitchen

Updated February 21, 2017

Mildew loves dark, damp areas. The musty smell in your kitchen may be a sign of active mildew growth. The key to getting rid of the smell is to locate and treat the infected areas. Look under cabinets and in pantries for the distinctive signs of mildew, such as staining and odour. Mixing a few household ingredients together can effectively remove mildew and, therefore, eliminate the smell. The exact treatment will depend on the surface material. Wood is different from ceramic tile. Cleaning the area completely may be all you need to do to remove the mildew and eliminate the smell.

Mix 10 tbsp of washing soda with 1 gallon of water in a cleaning bucket.

Dip a scrub brush into the washing soda solution. Use a soft-bristled brush when cleaning to avoid damaging the wood surface. For stubborn stains, a stiffer bristle may be necessary, but may strip painted surfaces.

Wipe the area with a clean, damp cloth to remove residue. If growth is under cabinets, leave the doors open until the wood is dry. This will help prevent further mildew and air out the space.

Combine 1/2 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup washing soda with 1 gallon/4 litres of water in a bucket.

Wet a soft cloth with the cleaning solution and wipe the tile surface. Rinse immediately with a second cloth dipped in fresh water to remove residue. Buff the tile dry with a towel to avoid water spots once clean.

Mix a paste of baking soda and 1 tsp liquid bleach. Use only enough soda to create a paste consistency.

Apply the paste to heavily saturated areas or stubborn mildew stains on tile. Dip a toothbrush into the paste and cover the stain. Let the paste sit for up to 30 minutes before rinsing with a wet cloth.

Dip a cotton swab into bleach and dab infected grout between tiles. Let the bleach sit for 30 minutes and then wipe the grout with a wet cloth.


Washing soda is sodium carbonate. Don't confuse it with detergent or baking soda. If you are unsure whether you are purchasing the correct chemical, read the label and look for sodium carbonate as the primary ingredient.


Damaged wood may require stripping or ultimately replacement. The sooner you treat the mildew, the better chance you have of saving the wood. Avoid mixing bleach and ammonia. The two chemical together can create toxic fumes that are potentially life-threatening.

Things You'll Need

  • Washing soda
  • 1-gallon/4 litres cleaning bucket
  • Soft-bristled scrub brush
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Ammonia
  • White vinegar
  • Towel
  • Baking soda
  • Liquid bleach
  • Toothbrush
  • Cotton swab
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About the Author

Writing since 1999, Darla Ferrara is an award-winning author who specializes in health, diet, fitness and computer technology. She has been published in "Mezzo Magazine" and Diet Spotlight, as well as various online magazines. Ferrara studied biology and emergency medical technology at the University of Nebraska and Southeast Community College.