When you walk into your home, are you hit in the face with a musty smell that seems to permeate every room? This is an unpleasant way to come home. It’s also embarrassing if you have an unexpected guest.

A musty odor is an indication that mildew or mold is lurking somewhere in your home. It doesn’t take long for the smell to reach other rooms via your HVAC system.

Using candles or plug-in air fresheners will only provide a temporary solution. If you want to get rid of that “old house smell,” you need to be more proactive. Use the nine steps below to eliminate the problem for good.


1. Locate the Source

Even if you can smell must throughout your home, it’s likely coming from one or two areas. You’ll need to find the source to effectively remove the smell.

Lingering moisture causes mold and mildew. That’s why musty odors tend to come from bathrooms, basements, or under sinks.

If you find mold or mildew, you’ll need to remove it and sanitize the area immediately. If your showers and tubs are free of mold or mildew, check for leaks under sinks. You may have mold growth you were unaware of.

Once you’ve cleaned all mold and mildew, you can start removing the residual odor.

2. Open Your Windows 

Getting fresh air into your home is the next step. Open windows throughout the house, especially ones in bathrooms. Make sure you fully open blinds and curtains to allow in as much fresh air as possible.


It also helps to open all the doors inside your home. This allows the fresh air from outside to circulate throughout every room. You can even open cabinets, closets, and pantries.

Aside from letting fresh air in, opening your windows will take the old, musty air out. There’s a chance you’ll notice a considerable improvement after taking this step.

3. Circulate Airflow 

You’ve created healthy circulation by opening your windows. Now it’s time to take things a step further and get the air moving.

Turn on all overhead fans. For rooms that don’t have them, bring in portable fans. The idea is to create as much ventilation as possible.

Turn on the overhead ventilation fans in your bathroom. Leave these running while your home is airing out.

If the musty odor is severe, consider investing in a linear diffuser for your ceiling. These devices increase ventilation throughout a space.

4. Eliminate Dust 

A build-up of dust can often cause a musty odor. That’s one of the reasons it’s important to dust regularly.

The best way to remove dust is to use a damp cloth. Once dry, go over the surface with a feather duster.

Make sure you dust on the tops of ceiling fans. These areas often go unnoticed and attract huge amounts of dust, dirt, and dander.

Move furniture and dust behind and under them. Don’t forget baseboards, bookshelves, and inside cabinets.  

5. Get Rid of Moisture

If you want to get rid of a musty odor for good, you need to eliminate moisture completely. This is sometimes easier said than done.

You probably cleaned up any lingering water if you found leaks while searching for the source of the musty smell. Now it’s time to take further measures to keep things dry.

Make sure condensation isn’t entering your home through windows. If it is, you’ll need new window seals.

Sometimes musty odors can come from excess moisture in roof gutters. Inspect yours for blockages and clean them if needed.

If you have a basement that’s prone to moisture and humidity, think about having it professionally insulated. You can also have a sump pump installed to get rid of water.

6. Clean Carpets and Furniture 

Carpets tend to trap odors, making them difficult to eliminate from your home. It’s also possible for mold and mildew to form in carpet fibers.

If you notice a musty odor coming from your carpets, get them professionally cleaned. You can also try spreading baking soda over your carpet and vacuuming after about 20 minutes.

You should clean all upholstered furniture. Use your vacuum and don’t forget to clean under cushions.

If it’s been a while since you’ve deep cleaned your home, go ahead and do it. There’s a good chance the musty odor will go away.

7. Deodorize 

Once you’ve cleaned, it’s time to deodorize. This will ensure your home has a clean, fresh smell.

The product you use is up to you. If you try to avoid commercial cleaners, that’s fine. There are plenty of natural ways to deodorize.

Create a deodorizing spray using a pint of water, one ounce of vinegar, and your favorite essential oil. Mix the ingredients and add them to a spray bottle.

You can also get natural candles made of soy. They smell great and don’t emit any harmful fumes.  

8. Purify the Air 

Improving the air quality in your home will help keep musty smells away. Invest in a portable purifier and use it in every room.

A purifier will remove dust, allergens, mold, and mildew from the air. Make sure you use a HEPA filter.

You should also change the filter in your HVAC system. Do this once a month to maintain good air quality.

9. Take Preventative Measures 

Once you’ve eliminated the musty odor in your home, there are things you can do to prevent it from returning.

After showering, leave the overhead ventilation fan on for 15 minutes. You can also open a window to create circulation.

Do routine checks of your plumbing, washing machine, and HVAC system to ensure no moisture is building up. Keep your gutter clean and make sure water drains away from your home during storms.

Finally, keep your home as clean as possible.

Get Rid of That Musty Smell for Good 

A constant musty smell in your home makes it hard to relax. If this is the first thing you notice every time you enter your house, take action now.

Use the steps above and eliminate musty odors permanently.

We hope you found this article helpful. Feel free to browse the rest of our site for more household tips and tricks.