If you’ve detected a musty odor inside your home, you need to ask yourself some questions, starting with, do I have mold?
Is my house musty only when it rains and is it also musty after I’ve gone on vacation?
Once you’ve put your finger on it, the next thing you’ll want to do is focus on getting rid of the source of the smell.
There are lots of things that could be causing that unpleasant odor inside your home and here’s how to deal with them.
So how do you remove musty odors from your home?
The cause of most musty smells in the house is moisture. If you have these odors in the kitchen, laundry room, bathroom and so on, you need to improve ventilation.
You should use ventilation fans with a timer in the bathroom. It should be switched on when a shower starts and shut it off automatically when you’re done.
If it’s at all possible, stove fans should also be switched on when you are cooking in order to circulate the air through the filter.
If you have a finished basement, add ceiling fans as moving air helps to prevent condensation. Additionally, you can use air fresheners and dehumidifiers to freshen up the air indoors.
If you are searching for that musty odor, it’s a good idea to get rid of clutter. Clutter is an ideal environment for dust and mildew to build up, and ultimately, this will cause that stuffy odor that some people know all too well.
Open spaces promote better airflow and therefore, fresher smelling air.
Table of Contents
Why Does My Home Smell Musty?
If our clothing or your home smells musty, chances are you probably have mold lurking somewhere.
Mold and mildew are results of a lack of ventilation and high humidity. These factors can also increase the musty odor and make it more noticeable. However, they are not the primary cause of the odor.
That musty smell may remind you of your grandma’s attic or an old library. However, the reality of the situation is that mold and mildew can grow anywhere, even in the most modern home or apartment.
All mold really needs to grow is a surface that is warm, dark, has oxygen and of course, moisture.
The last ingredient which is moisture is the biggest culprit. When all of the other environmental elements combine, it simply needs moisture which it will get from condensation, and then begin to grow.
As mold begins to form and grow, it ultimately emits gases known as microbial volatile organic compounds. So the odor that you smell is not just from the mold but from the chemicals that are released in different stages of growth.
They have a pretty low odor threshold; this means that you can smell it easily, and when you do, it’s pretty strong.
There are hundreds of different VOCs resulting from mold and mildew, and lots of them pose health risks.
Although more research is needed, some of the most common symptoms when you are exposed to these VOCs include:
- Nasal meditation
Do I Have Mold Growing in My Home
If you smell a musty odor inside your home, then you probably have mold.
If you notice an unpleasant smell as soon as you walk inside your house or you’ve been away from home, it definitely is mold.
Although old houses leak over time and let moisture in when it should not, new houses are also built tightly. In fact, they trap moisture inside as well.
You may have mold, or you may have mildew inside your house so what exactly is the difference?
Well, they’re both fungi, and they both enjoy moist conditions.
They both also have quite an unpleasant musty odor; however, mold tends to be a lot worse when it comes to stink.
Where is the Mildew Smell Coming From?
Well, the simple answer is that it could be coming anywhere.
As mentioned, the mildew smell is musty but not as stinky as the smell of mold.
They usually form forms in places that are not breathable; however, it is easy to clean up.
For example, if you have plastic storage buckets that you used as a garbage disposal, it usually starts to smell, and this is often as a result of mold you forming over the leftover substances inside the bucket when garbage has been removed.
So if the plastic bin is not washed out, that musty odor will continue to linger. Mildew is usually found in warm and humid places of the home, such as the basement surfaces.
If you go on vacation and come back to a musty odor inside the house, it probably is mildew or stale bits.
In this case, you need to open up your windows and allow your home to ventilate.
Is That Musty Smell Dangerous to My Health?
Exposure to mold and can cause health issues such as nasal stuffiness and irritation, coughing, wheezing as well as eye and skin irritation.
Those who suffer from mold allergies may have more severe reactions according to the environmental protection agency.
People who have allergies to mold may also suffer from asthma attacks.
Mold and mildew are similar yet different fungus that can lurk inside your home and affect your health; which is why it is essential to know how to protect yourself against these hazards.
Does a Musty Smell Always Mean Mold?
If you get a musty smell inside your home, it is probably because of mold.
However, the musty smell doesn’t always mean that you have a mold infestation. In some cases, you could just have a problem with mildew.
Mildew is much similar to mold in the that it is also a fungus; however, it is different in appearance, and the musty odor is not as strong as that of mold.
If you have a mildew problem, you will notice that you have a white powdery substance on your walls or wherever the infestation is coming from.
It is often easier to clean off of surfaces than mold is. So once you detect a musty odor, you first need to determine whether it is mold or mildew.
What Does Mold Smell Like in a House?
Mold has a very distinct odor.
Although it’s quite hard to describe it and you actually have to smell it to fully understand or differentiate between the smell of mold and other substances, the best way that it can be described is similar to the smell of a damp carpet, and old library or an extremely old attic.
Ultimately, it is not a pleasant smell at all, and you will detect it as soon as you walk into the house.
7 Causes of a Musty Smell in Your Home
Several factors can cause a musty odor inside your home. The most obvious and common cause of the musty smell is the growth of mold and mildew.
Irrespective of how big or small the infestation is, if mold is present inside your home or any part of, it will be detected as soon as you enter the home from outside.
This is mainly because mold has a very distinct smell and a very pungent odor.
- A home that is poorly ventilated will eventually start to have a pretty stale and unpleasant odor. This is mainly because the same air is circulating inside the house continuously. The home needs fresh air, and it needs it on a regular basis.
- So by opening up the windows and doors and even using an electric fan, you will force stale air out and invite fresh air inside your home and eventually get that musty odor removed.
- Humidity and moisture also are possible causes of the musty odor. This is usually very prevalent in the summer months when it is extremely hot and humid. This is the ideal ground for mold and mildew growth as well.
- Leaks could be another cause. You should check for leaks, especially around the chimney. Also, try inspecting basement walls for seepage and check exterior walls for signs of water damage.
- Many front loading washing machines retain the water at the base of the unit over time, this water will grow bacteria and lead to that musty smell in the laundry area. Also, a drainage pipe that is incorrectly installed will allow gases to escape into the home.
- Garbage cans make your home smell musty. Although most areas have garbage pickup at least once a week, all it takes is approximately six days for something to start smelling bad. So one way of preventing musty odors is to try and dry out your garbage before it goes in the wastebasket. Meat scraps and so on should be sealed in a bag and kept in the freezer until garbage day.
- Although plants are known to freshen up the indoor air, it can also be a source of a musty odor. This is when you overwater the plant and do not remove dead leaves regularly.
Steps to Remove Musty/Mildew Smell from Home
The first step in getting rid of the musty odor inside your home is locating the source of the smell. If it is quite a pungent smell, then you probably be able to find it easily.
Sometimes the culprit is as simple as a damp cloth falling behind the bed and developing mold. It could also be something under the floorboards. You can open all the windows and doors and let fresh air in.
As long as it’s not too cold out there, it’s safe to do this. This is the first step in getting that smell out of your house. A musty smell can also be caused by a lack of ventilation or even dust.
Let the fresh air in and open all the cupboards and closets and let the daylight in while you’re at.
You should use ventilation fans and electric fans. Most modern bathrooms and kitchens have ventilation fans and should use these to push out the smells. The is especially if rooms have no windows and circulation.
One of the best ways to get fresh air in is by using an air scrubber to get the air moving.
You should then sweep all the dust and clean thoroughly. The feather duster, damp cloth and dustpan, and brush will be needed to ensure that the dirt and dust are thoroughly removed. Hard floors should be mopped up using a floor cleaner.
Ensure that all areas of your home are well ventilated.
This will ensure that mold and mildew don’t get an opportunity to hide and grow.
Where is the musty odor in my home coming from?
It is probably a result if mold or mildew lurking inside parts of your home. In order to locate the source, you may have to do a sniff test or move your furniture, especially if you haven’t done so in years.
Can I get rid of a musty odor by myself?
Yes, by implementing a few steps, you can rid your home of that unpleasant odor and keep it smelling fresh and clean.
When do I need to call a professional?
You may need a mold remediator if the mold infestation is bigger than you can handle or you have attempted to get rid of all the visible mold, yet still get that musty smell.
This could mean that there is a bigger problem, and a mold remediator is trained to get to the bottom of things.