How to Get Rid of Mildew Smell

Moldy and stale, Wet, and stuffy are the words that come to mind when you smell mildew in your house. You will want to find the source as soon as possible because it’s one of the first signs of mold forming. Fortunately, the steps to get rid of mildew smell are much simpler than you may think, and the items required to remove mildew or musty smells are most likely already in your home. The sooner you address mildew, the faster you can protect your home from health risks and significant damage. Mildew thrives in moist environments and is most commonly found in bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Mildew and musty odors can be removed with a simple toothbrush, sponge, and a few cleaning tools, depending on the type of space you’re cleaning. Here’s how to get rid of mildew smells and keep them away for good.

Is Mildew Dangerous?

Mildew can cause itchy eyes, sneezing, and coughing in people exposed to a moderate amount of it. This is true for those who have asthma or a weakened immune system. Mildew can be dangerous if not treated promptly, as repeated exposure to mildew (an early sign of mold) can cause respiratory problems.

In addition to affecting anyone’s health, mildew can eat away at a building’s structure and decompose walls and ceilings. Mildew can grow on and damage porous objects such as carpet and furniture. The longer the homeowner waits to remove mildew, the more expensive the repairs.

Moldy and musty odors are similar in that they result from mold or mildew growth, typically in damp areas. Although musty odors are not as strong as moldy odors, you should take the same precautions for both.

Mildew appears as a powdery, spotty substance commonly found in fruits, vegetables, and plants. Mold can grow on plant materials, but it is most commonly found on building materials such as walls, flooring, towels, tiles, and clothing. Mold is typically thicker and more damaging to structures because it penetrates deeper into the material it grows.

Also See: How to Get Rid of Odors at Home?

What causes a mildew smell in a room?

Excessive humidity causes mold and mildew damp, earthy odor, which is especially noticeable in stagnant areas such as the bathroom, basement, or laundry room. Mold and mildew produce foul-smelling gases that permeate textiles such as carpet, curtains, and upholstery.

Mold and mildew are caused by excessive humidity, which can be found in the following places:

● Water seeps through cracks in the walls

● Water seeps through cracks in the foundation.

● A leaking roof

● The leaking air conditioner.

● Condensation is a problem in the home.

● Poor ventilation in the home

● Flood or water damage that has not been remedied 

● Clothes and blankets made of damp fabrics

How to get rid of mildew smell? 

The key to success is prevention

Just as you can use beeswax to keep your shag rugs from getting dirty depending on where you place them in your home, and you can use it to keep your kitchen countertops from tarnishing, you can use a few key tips to prevent mildew from growing at all. Homeowners or renters should monitor their home’s humidity levels to detect any foul, musty odors caused by mildew before they become a serious problem.

Increase airflow by opening the windows

One of the major causes of a mildew-filled home is a lack of proper airflow, which means you never let in fresh air! One simple & easy way to accomplish this is to open your windows around your house at least once a day for up to 20 minutes to allow for continuous airflow throughout, focusing on a nice cross breeze. Another brilliant solution is to install ceiling fans in rooms where you want more air to circulate. It’s also good to check whether your air ducts have mold. Mold growth can be detected by a mildew odor in your home and health issues such as headaches, a runny nose, nausea, and even allergies.

Try a diluted bleach solution

If you’ve found the source of the mildew smell, we recommend using a bleach mixture of four parts water to one part bleach to scrub the area with a rough sponge. We also suggest using extra protection such as gloves and glasses while cleaning with bleach, and wear a pair of old clothes that you don’t mind ruining when working with bleach; they’ll likely become damaged.

But let’s say you’re not in the mood to do your own thing — we understand! In that case, several products are available on the market to treat mold and mildew on various surfaces, such as Concrobium 25326 Mold Control Spray, which can combat mold and mildew odors while also preventing mold and mildew growth.

Utilize white vinegar

White vinegar is a staple in our cleaning arsenal at House Digest, and it’s easy to see why. For one thing, we can pour some in the toilet and watch the stains vanish without scrubbing, and this pantry staple can also neutralize laundry odors. It turns out that a vinegar cleaner can be excellent for treating mildew and mold, too. Stains on fabrics, carpeting, upholstery, or hard surfaces are included in the bathroom or kitchen. If you can’t clean a piece of clothing with bleach, the experts recommend using lemon and white vinegar or taking it to a professional dry cleaner if that isn’t an option.

Try baking soda and water

After breaking up the stain with white vinegar, we recommend using a mixture of baking soda and water to scrub away any stains, which should completely remove the mildew smell. This mixture of water and baking soda works well for removing tougher molds. Add 1/4 tablespoon baking soda to a spray bottle, fill with water, shake vigorously, and attack the stain. You can also add vinegar to the mixture, which is a good option for those looking for a gentle cleanser to help with the problem and smell. The key is to allow the solution to sit before wiping it away with a sponge or cloth.

Get a dehumidifier

It’s critical to maintain your relative humidity level — remember, it should be between 30% and 50% ideally — which is why a dehumidifier is a great investment. This is important if you want to get rid of a mildew odor in your home. What exactly does the appliance do? A dehumidifier’s role is to remove moisture from the air, which causes mold and mildew and their associated odors, so these machines are pretty amazing, in our opinion. Portable dehumidifiers, which can be purchased at big-box stores, can help maintain the proper humidity, which is the end goal.

Save silica gels or use other humidity eaters

Do you ever notice the silica gel packets in the box when you get certain products? People should think about keeping them rather than throwing them away. This is why: These handy little packets are fantastic for sucking moisture from the air! Who would have guessed? They are also a freeway for you to gain control of your home’s more humid, mildew-smelling areas. While the outlet emphasizes the importance of keeping them out of reach of small children (and pets), keeping these little packets around basements or other moist areas is a great way to keep musty odors at bay. These silica gel packets can also be used to save a water-damaged phone or in your sweaty gym bag!

Keep odors at bay

You’ll want to keep odors out, especially mildewy and musty smells. So, hopefully, now that you’ve tried the above suggestions, your musty problems are a thing of the past. But, there are some suggestions to keep your home smelling wonderful. Create your scents with organic essential oils, such as roses or jasmine plants, and DIY potpourri to add fresh-smelling, natural elements to your home. Sage can even be used to purify the air in your home.

Precautions to Take

You should consider a few things when dealing with odor. These steps will help to protect your lungs and keep spores at bay:

  • Use a mask: To avoid inhaling mold spores, we recommend wearing a mouth mask.
  • Eye protection: The fungus can cause eye irritation and inflammation. Furthermore, the combination of mold and cleaning products can cause enough discomfort to cause a cleaning session to be halted. Thus it is critical to carry protective goggles.
  • Gloves: Even natural ingredients like borax can cause skin irritation. To avoid direct dermal contact, wear rubber gloves.
  • Proper ventilation: Make sure opening doors and windows well ventilate the area.
  • Isolate the colony: Spores will inevitably fly around as you clean. As a result, always focus on one room at a time when scrubbing. It also helps close the door to keep the spores from spreading to other living areas.
  • Seal HVAC systems: Turn off any heating, air conditioning, or ventilation systems that you may have. The spores will not be able to escape and find refuge inside your HVAC system, only to return.
  • Disposal of equipment: When you’re finished cleaning, put all of your tools in a plastic bag and seal it. Immediately discard.

Tips for Removing Mildew Odor

  • You can try these simple tips to get rid of them for general mildew odors.
  • Never put wet laundry or towels in a laundry hamper.
  • Use room sprays or scented candles to mask mildew odor temporarily.
  • Air out storage sheds and other closed areas regularly. 
  • Contact a professional if you notice extensive mold growth anywhere in your home. Some molds are toxic and must be removed by a professional.

How to prevent the musty smell from returning

The simple way to prevent a musty smell from returning is by maximizing the air circulation and minimizing dampness as much as possible. Install fans in the bathrooms, kitchen, and basement, and attempt to keep them running whenever moisture enters your home, such as while showering or cooking on a rainy day. You can also leave the fans on after bathing or cooking to allow the area to dry fully.

See Also: Red Flags to Look out for before Renting a House


The best part about getting rid of the mildew smell is that you probably already have everything you need. With a little bleach and perseverance, your home will be smelling fresh and free of musty odors in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do mold and mildew smell?

Mold and mildew always have a damp, musty, pungent odor, similar to wet socks or rotting wood. To put it in another way, it is not pleasant.

Is a musty odor always indicative of mold?

Yes, in many cases. A musty odor indicates that mold or mildew is growing on or within your home’s moisture. The sooner you identify and eliminate the source of the smell, the better for your home and health.

When should I approach a professional to deal with a mildew problem?

If you suffer from respiratory issues, it is best to hire a cleaning service to remove the mildew. Hiring a professional is ideal if the mildew odor comes from your HVAC equipment, such as your furnace, humidifier, or air conditioner. If it’s a problem with your HVAC system, don’t turn on the air conditioning because it can spread mold spores throughout your home.

What is a nontoxic mildew treatment?

Baking soda is a non-toxic ingredient that you can use to remove mildew, and it is safe for your children and pets. Besides killing the mold, baking soda can absorb moisture and keep mildew at bay.

Also See: Home Cleaning Services to Use When Moving | Best Home Deep Cleaning Services of 2022

Written by

Rostislav Shetman is the founder of 9Kilo Moving. He has been in the moving and relocation industry for more than 25 years, making him an expert in his field. Rostislav started as a helper, dispatcher and driver and has worked his way up to owning his own company. He takes great pride in his work and enjoys helping people relocate across the United States of America. When he's not working, Rostislav enjoys spending time with his family and friends. They are the light of his life and bring him happiness every day.