Tips to Get Rid of Musty Smell

by Admin


I smell mold!  A lot of environments can become breeding grounds for musty and moldy smells.  In this class we will examine several techniques to help get rid of musty smells and preventive tips to stop them in the future.

What Causes Musty Odors?

Musty odors aren’t uncommon especially in older  homes or buildings.  These odors are a result of MVOCs (microbial volatile organic compounds).  MVOCs are typically higher molecular weight alcohols or ketones.  Simply put, they are gases produced by mold during the mold’s growth cycle.

Molds can be very dangerous to try and clean on your own as they are the cause of a number of respiratory diseases.  I would always suggest you contact a mold remediation specialist before attempting to do anything on your own.

What to Wear When Cleaning

Due to the fact that most musty odors are a result of mold, you should take precautions before you begin to clean any infected areas.  Mold is very dangerous and you should make sure that you wear a respirator, eye protection and gloves when cleaning.  Mold spores tend to break off and become airborne when cleaning therefore a respirator is a must.  The EPA suggest you use a N-95 respirator and goggles that don’t allow ventilation to prevent mold spores from getting in your eyes.  I would always suggest you consult a mold remediation expert if you’re not sure on the proper gear.

mold smellNatural Remedies and Solutions for Musty Smells

You should use natural products first when trying to get rid of odors.  Usually we are effected by these odors because they are occurring in an environment that we spend a lot of time.  Most of the natural products will kill the mold and musty smells as good as chemical alternatives, yet natural products are safe for you, your family and pets.

  • Vinegar - The high acidity of vinegar helps kill mold and fungi that cause musty smells.  Pick up a cheap spray bottle at the store and mix it one part water to one part vinegar.  Spray the infected area with generous amount of vinegar and allow it to sit for a few hours.  Go back over the area with some soapy water.  This serves two functions, cleaning the area once again while also helping to dilute the vinegar smell.
  • Lemon - Similar to vinegar, lemon has a very high acidity.  Take some natural lemon juice (no added sugars) and mix it one part lemon juice to one part water and spray the infected area.  Allow it to sit for a few hours and then clean the area once again with some soapy water.
  • Baking Soda - Baking soda has always been known for it’s ability to absorb smells.  You may remember your parents keeping a box of it in the fridge as a kid.  You can apply baking soda to an area to help remove the smell but it won’t resolve the problem as it won’t kill the fungi or mold.  I generally would suggest you use this process after cleaning with the vinegar or lemon juice.

Chemical Solutions

  • Hydrochloric Acid - Using hydrochloric acid is one of the most effective ways to kill mold and stop the odors. However, hydrochloric acid can be dangerous and also can ruin a lot of surfaces such as wood floors.  You should always try the natural remedies first.  If you have tried the vinegar and lemon yet the mold keeps reappearing apply some hydrochloric acid.  Make sure you are wearing protective gloves, goggles and a respirator when doing this.  If you’re problem is serious enough that you have to use hydrochloric acid, I would suggest contacting a mold remediation specialist.

Musty Odor Prevention

The easiest solution to musty odors is preventing them.  Musty odors and mold typically form when an environment stays damp and warm for an extended period of time.  The basement in your house is one of the easiest places for musty odors to form.  The following are some simple preventive tips.

  • Dehumidifier - A dehumidifier in your basement and damp areas of your house is one of the best preventive measures you can take.  You will be amazed at the amount of water that your dehumidifier will suck out of the air every day, instantly helping you to get rid of musty smells.
  • Clean and Dry Damp Rugs and Towels - Damp rugs at the entrance of your house or leaving wet towels lay around the bathroom are huge cause for musty smells.  Make sure to keep all areas of your house as dry as possible.
  • Gutters - Having gutters properly installed on your house will help keep your basement dryer.  Make sure that you have the gutters directing the water away from your house properly.
  • Seal Leaks and Cracks in Your Foundation and Around Windows - Walk around your house with a caulk gun and fill in any cracks you can see in your foundation, around pipes and windows.
  • Fix Leaking Faucets & Pipes – Once again we are trying to eliminate any access moisture.

A clean and dry environment will always help fight off mold and musty smells.  Following these preventive measures will help eliminate ever having mold or musty smells in your house.

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  • Mikekosydor

    To rid the musty smell in your carpet – YOU MUST eliminate the source. The typical source and cause is water. Water soaked carpet and padding will not dry unless it is pulled up and air dried. Sweeping with a dry/vac and fans without lifting the carpet will only dry the upper portions of the carpet, not thoroughly. However, vac and air drying is a critical step if done immediately, but lifting the carpet to dry the underside and padding is required to stand any chance of eliminating the odor.
    Step 1: wet/dry vac area immediately and begin air drying with fans – more the merrier.
    Step 2: lift carpet, fold over to expose the underside of the wet portion.
    Step 3: Air dry with fans – again the more the merrier and the quicker it will dry. Allow to air dry for at least 24 hours if not longer.
    Step 4: Once the carpet and padding is dry, mix equal amounts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the effected area with the vinegar and water solution. Allow to set for approx. 2 hours.
    Step 5: Mix an oxidizing type dish soap with water, sudsy solution. With a sponge or rag wipe down the area that was sprayed with the vinegar and water solution. Wipe with a wet rag to risnse soap and air dry again for at least 24 hours.
    Step 6: Sprinkle carpet padding with baking soda, allow to set for 2 hours. Vacuum thoroughly.
    Step 7: Reinstall carpet. Sprinkle top of carpet with baking soda, allow to set for 2 hours and vacuum.
    Step 8: If smell does not go away – replace carpet and pad!!

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