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How to get rid of a damp musty smell in a basement

Updated February 21, 2017

Basements are known for having damp and musty smells. This is because these odours are caused by mould growth and basements, usually damp and dark, are ideal locations for mould to grow. Unfortunately, in addition to smelling foul, mould can be harmful to your health. For example, mould can give you headaches, hives and skin rashes and make it difficult to breathe.

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  1. Remove excess moisture. Excess moisture may be caused by water seeping through the cracks in your basement. Check the walls, edges of the flooring and windows of your basement and seal any cracks. Conversely, you want to make sure that there is adequate ventilation throughout your house. For example, if you take a shower, open the bathroom window. Otherwise, excess moisture can accumulate on the bathroom floor and may seep into the basement.

  2. Place dishes of vinegar around the basement. Vinegar will help break down the damp musty smell. It generally takes 2 to 3 days before you notice an improvement.

  3. Place an open bag of charcoal in your basement. Charcoal absorbs odours and dampness in the air. Be sure to change the bag every six months.

  4. Sprinkle chlorinated lime over the floor of your basement. Leave the chlorinated lime on the floor until the musty odour disappears and then sweep it up. Be careful not to let your pets or children ingest the chlorinated lime.

  5. Purchase an air purifier. Air purifiers work by breaking down the musty odours. Some air purifiers also serve as deodorisers.

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About the Author

Thomas King is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law where he served as managing editor of the "Pittsburgh Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law." He currently lives in Aberdeen, Washington where he writes and practices law.

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