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How to get rid of musty smell in basement

How to get rid of musty smell in basement

If you’ve been experiencing musty odors in your basement for a long time, then you may start to think that basements are always supposed to be like this and there’s nothing you can do about it. Even the smell is so worse than any other smell in your house that it won’t go away easily, no matter how much mopping and spraying you do.

If I’m not mistaken, the smell is way similar to that pair of wet socks or a wet dog, which literally feels disgusting. Although you should know that this smell is caused by mold and/or mold growth. In case, if you’re thinking that this is just only in your problem then stay strong because it’s a common problem that every homeowner faces without any precautions.

Also, you don’t have to worry about it since the smell can be eliminated easily with some simple steps…and by reading this article you will be able to know all the steps with details on “How to get rid of musty smell in basement.”

**Use table of content to read your desired point**

why do basements smell?

A musty basement can be responsible for a smelly house since it is easy to spread throughout the house from the basement. Moreover, the smell is too much worse and recognizable that you can even notice it from your garage or even a bathroom as a basement smell.

The smell might be felt similar to rotten wood, wet socks, mushrooms, or a wet dog.

Well, the reason is also very simple. After all, underground living spaces cannot hold the same moisture level as the upper level of your home. Also when warmer air from above enters into your basement then the moisture in the air become condenses and in the end, it ends up in your dark basement walls and cold water pipes.

Just like identifying the reason or cause of the musty smell is important, knowing the cause of the smelly basement is also very important because finding the cause can be helpful while eliminating it.

So without any further ado let me just tell you the common cause of this smell in your basement…

Causes of Basement Odor

Mold and Mildew:

How to get rid of musty smell in basement

Mold and mildew are one of the primary causes of all the odors and mustiness in your basement. Moreover, mold and mildew not only cause odors in your basement, they can also damage the structural integrity of your home on porous surfaces.

Dark spaces like your basement are the best environment for mold spores and mildew growth. And if you have much of the underlying structure of your home is made of wood then make sure to check your basement from time to time to avoid serious structural damage.

Even these things can be spread across your basement floor, walls and ceiling, as well as anything you have stored nearby. So if you have noticed mold and mildew in your basement then it is something that you have to eliminate right away without any second thought.

In worst cases, you may even have to face health issues like allergic symptoms to respiratory issues, Asthma, etc.

Other Basement Smell Contributors


How to get rid of musty smell in basement

Dampness in your basement is also one of the big reasons that cause a musty smell in your basement. Since a damp environment is the best environment for mold & mildew growth, and as I said earlier that having mold and mildew in your basement will lead to a musty smell.

Dampness in your basement is also a big factor that causes a musty smell in your basement. Because a damp environment is the best environment for mold and mildew growth, and as I said earlier that mold and mildew are one of the big reasons which are responsible for such bad smell in your basement.

Now without further ado let me just tell you the three main causes for dampness in your basement:

Wall cracks and Foundation:

How to get rid of musty smell in basement

If your basement suddenly smells bad right after it rains then it could be a sign that water is coming in through your foundation, and it is quite possible when there are some cracks on your basement wall and the water leaks from cracks in the foundation.

So if you ever find a situation like then you have to fix this right away, and unfortunately for this purpose, you will need a trained professional since you can’t do this on your own.


During the rainy season or rainy, you may feel this more often because when it is raining outside the water may run down into your basement through windows or pool underneath.

Moreover, because of this the whole situation will be repeated again like I explained earlier in the dampness point.


If you have a leaking basement pipe then I suggest you fix it as soon as possible because a consistent drip can easily increase your water bill and make your basement damp.

Note: Sometimes the leaks are too small that isn’t even noticeable, so make sure to check your pipes properly while checking.

After finding the pipe leak, try to fix the problem as soon as possible with a professional person or yourself, in case if you know how to fix it.


Basically, sewage lines in most homes usually run through the basement before continuing outside, and if sewage problems start from improperly installed pipes then it can cause liquid sewage to spill out of the pipes, and cause a musty odor.


How to get rid of musty smell in basement

Not every animal has a sweet cute odor in their body, and just like that mouse is also one of the animals that smell terrible if they are in your basement. Moreover, Urine and droppings from such animals can also create nasty smells.

In worst cases, if a mouse dies inside your walls then you can expect an unsatisfied bad odor for a time after. So it’s better to notice the basement from time to time and try to take action right away.

Dirty basement:

Well if you won’t maintain your basement from time to time then you can also expect bad musty odor from your basement. So make sure to clean your basement as well.

how to get rid of a musty smell

Now that you know all sorts of things that are causing a musty smell in your basement then let’s just deal with it by doing some simple things…

Here are some easy ways to remove musty odors and moisture from your basement.

Clean Mold and Mildew From Surfaces:

There are many ways out there that you can try to kill and clean mold and mildew from surfaces using household products but the easiest way to kill them is by using  bleach or undistilled white vinegar.

Note: However you must have to wear PPE while dealing with mold.


If you decide to use bleach to kill mold and mildew then be sure to mix one-half cup of bleach with one gallon of warm water. Although you can vary the amount based on the size of your basement.

After that, all you have to do is pour the solution into a spray bottle and clean the area of mold and mildew.

Also, before applying the solution to basement floors, bathrooms, walls, cement, laundry areas, and other parts of the basement, be sure to open windows and doors to allow fresh air in.

You can also use fans to keep the air circulating and to move cleaning agent vapors toward open windows and doors.

Note: Make sure that pets are not going near that place since if they somehow taste it then they can be particularly susceptible to bleach poisoning.

White vinegar:

How to get rid of musty smell in basement

White vinegar is one of the best and most natural ways to kill mold and to make it possible all you need to do to do this is pour vinegar into an empty spray bottle and use it to saturate the mold growth. After that just wait at least one hour to see good results.

After that fill a clean spray bottle again but this time pour a teaspoon of baking soda and two cups of water. Shake the bottle properly and spray directly onto the mold and any stains. Later if you have a scrubber then just Scrub it. At the last just clean the area with warm water.

Check and Repair Leaky Pipes:

How to get rid of musty smell in basement

Every home is laced with pipes everywhere that starts with the main water shut off where the water line enters the house, goes to the water heater, and back to the bathroom and kitchen.

However, the more pipes you have in your home & basement, the more possibility of leaks you are likely to have in those pipes. And as I said earlier about the things that you will face because of leak pipes, so make sure to Inspect all visible pipes for leaks and fix them right away.

Tip: If the leak is not too much then you can use waterproof coating which will help you to hold the water for some days or even months but to fix the issue permanently you will need a professional plumber with experience.

Hire a Pest Control Company:

How to get rid of musty smell in basement

If  I remember I also talked about the animals that can cause a musty smell in your basement and to prevent this all you need to do is to hire a pest control company or implement some method like them.

By hiring them from time to time you will not only prevent musty odors from your basement but also you will be able to protect your home from those animals.

Do I Need to Run a Dehumidifier in the Basement?

How to get rid of musty smell in basement

It’s true that having a dehumidifier with you will surely be most helpful for this case but you should get a hygrometer to check the humidity level of your basement. Until you find out that the humidity level is higher than it’s decent level you shouldn’t buy or use a dehumidifier.

But if you are already facing mold and mildew issues then you don’t have to use a hygrometer either since high humidity is the one of the main cause of mold and mildew growth. Well no matter what the case is…if you are felling humidity in your basement along with the musty smell then you can simply use a dehumidifier for it to prevent such issues.

However if you live in a super cold area then you may not need to run a dehumidifier in the winter. But if your basement stays pretty warm (above 60°F) there’s a good chance you should run your dehumidifier.

You can also read this article to know the benefits of a dehumidifier along with this benefits. (What is a Dehumidifier Used for? Top 6 benefits of it)


Q: Does DampRid Work in Basements?

Well the answer is YES. DampRid can easy reduce moisture and eliminate the musty smell you have in your basement by making the air cleaner. However, if you have a big leak in your basement pipes then I still recommend you to hire someone professional to deal with the root of the problem.

Q: How to get musty smells out of towels?

Well towels are no different from any kind of clothing so you can just wash it and do the works as usual like you do. But if you’re still concerned about the smell then you should just let it dry longer than any other cloths after each use because a towel can hold more water than any other cloth.

And because of this your house can even smell musty and bad.

Q: Will fresh air get rid of musty smell?

YES. By ventilating the basement or even the whole house you can get rid of musty smell from your house and basement since Fresh air is the best way to keep musty smells at bay!

Q: Can a house smell musty without mold?

YES. You home can smell bad even without mold since there could be a handful of explanations, including a plumbing leak, high humidity, poor airflow, dirty HVAC equipment, or soiled carpet.


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