Musty Scent at Home. What Does Mold Smell Like and how to Eliminate it?

Everyone who has faced the problem of an unpleasant odor fr om things in the house is wondering how to get rid of mildew smell and make your room fresh

What is Mold?

Mold and mildew are common household offenders. Mold is known to get onto the heavily expired dairy, rotting fruit, bread, as well as wet walls behind closets in bathrooms and on windowsills. Spores, gifs, colonies all these words describe mold, the microscopic fungi. Mold can be found anywhere: mostly in soil, but there’s plenty in the air as well. The air we breathe contains thousands of mold spores: outdoors and indoors. 

Hazards of mold spores to humans as well as animals are well-known. Inhaled mold spores, specifically black mold spores (Stachybotrys chartarum) cause various negative reactions, they even set off diseases. Known for its severe allergy triggering properties, black mold can even be a reason for bronchial asthma.

So, how do we recognize mold and mildew?

But what does mold smell like

At some point in life, each of us had felt this very particular scent of overpowering dampness in basements, around covered swimming pools and gym showering areas. A very regrettable feature of musty scent prompted by excessive indoor dampness is that the scent penetrates every bit of the space once it’s inside. The scent of mold or mildew, as some call it, is also impossible to misinterpret. Thousands of mold spores are entering your respiratory tract at the moment you feel the odor, and it is up to your immune system, how your body may react.

Research shows that in a variety of people of different age groups and background medical conditions mold and mildew trigger different reactions. Some individuals end up with a cough, others get a chronic bronchitis flare-up, asthma patients may even end up in ER in case of severe mold contamination. Undoubtedly, some people enter a moldy room and come out never having noticed anything, besides the nasty smell. But health experts concur that living in an aerosol of fungi is unacceptable, and may lead to serious overall health complications, intoxication and other well-being threatening conditions. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at ways mold enters our homes, spreads, and methods to eliminate the smell it leaves behind.

Where Does Musty Smell Come From?

The emergence of a strangely stale scent in the apartment is a fairly frequent phenomenon. This happens due to dampness and poor ventilation of living rooms. Humidity increases primarily in the kitchen and the bathroom. 

The other reason is indoor pot plants: they do require a lot of moisture and release it back afterward. Watch closely after the windowsills, they accumulate extra moisture condensing fr om the windows too. 

The fungus also tends to develop in new buildings, especially in corner apartments. This happens due to the fact that construction materials are never completely dry. Once a building is done, the rooms do not get heated right away, so the humidity in all brand-new apartments is increased by default.

Basement and bottom floors of any building also are constantly exposed to excessive moisture: rains, floods, broken pipes. All the moisture accumulates in the deep of the walls. Once warm air hits a cold wet wall mold attacks. 

The solution to the Problem

The solution to any nasty smell, really, is to eliminate the cause of the smell itself, like dampness in the apartment. Identify the cause, complete all the necessary maintenance: change or repair the pipes in the basement, patch the cracks in the roofs, check the attic, plaster the walls at the joints, close the cracks with building polystyrene foam, check all ventilation, call special services to repair and clean it in case of a malfunction.

If all measures have been taken and the main reasons have been verified, let’s look into prevention now. Preventative measures involve:

  • routine draft ventilation of the premises. Fresh air movement prevents dampness and the scent consequently. 

  • Install an air purifier. If the lack of free time interferes with the ventilation and cleaning arrangements, install an air purifier, that will supply fresh air to the room without you doing much of anything, maintaining a healthy microclimate.

  • Check how the affected surfaces look if the aeration measurements did not help much. Mold may be hiding in the corners of the walls, under the wallpaper or in places wh ere no eye can see. 

  • Eliminate all mold and mildew traces upon determining the contaminated area. If you are unwilling to try a hand at bleaching, scrubbing, using vinegar, bleach, ammonia, borax, baking soda or hydrogen peroxide, you may as well call a specialist disinfection cleaning services and have them get rid of the nasty mold. The smell should go away along with it.

  • Make sure to keep the freshly cleaned areas dry and well-ventilated. This will save you from recurrences. 

Reasons Behind Musty Closet Smell

Folding laundry and putting it back into the closet if things are not completely dry is unwise at minimum. This is also a fundamentally wrong strategy if you want to keep this closet safe and sound. Apparently, a high level of humidity smoothly turns into dampness, wh ere fungus and mold feel great. 

Mold spores can penetrate walls and clothes. As a result, even fresh linen smells like old socks. In addition, mold can spread onto the cabinet from the wall it touches. Fungus and mold can also appear on the closet walls in case your closet room and your bathroom adjoin. The scariest thing about the above-mentioned facts is that when mold is just starting, the scent may be the single thing that will signal the infestation. So you gotta move fast.

How to Eliminate Musty Smell of Damp air?

It happens that excessive moisture is simply a part of a residence. It happens with newly built houses, top floor apartments, basement offices, etc. In this case, you may wanna start with dehumidification. It may be the only thing you’ll need to keep doing on a long term basis.

Some home remedies for musty smells in homes include:

  • A mixture of salt and black activated carbon. Setting up a container with this mixture in your home helps absorb moisture and get rid of the scent that comes with it. Replace mixture with fresh ingredients once a week.

  • Silica gel packets are a modern sorbent option if you do not feel like messing with salt and carbon mixtures.

  • Adding a packet of herbs or essential oils pillows into your closet upon elimination of the mold and dampness will make all your clothes smell fresh. Make sure that aroma is not overpowering and suits your general fragrance taste.

How else can you remove the smell of dampness in a house, room or apartment? 

If you’re not feeling washing, scrubbing or bringing fungicide into play, there are science-based solutions that may appeal to you more. We’ve mentioned it briefly earlier in this article: the solution involves eradicating every trace of moldy, musty or stale scent out of your home. 

In order to part with fungus scent once and for all, install an air purifier and an ozone blaster in your room. Ozone blasters will be a temporary solution. As for the air purifier, it can be a permanent resident in your home. Your household will only benefit from it. Mold, all types of fungi, mildew, stale or musty scents, kitchen fumes, cigarette smoke, overload perfume or laundry detergent smells, an air purifier takes care of all of those and more. Depending on the sort of filters you get in your air purifier, it may have the power to remove viruses and bacteria from the air as well as commonplace allergens. 


To remove any unpleasant odor in your apartment, it is necessary to find out the reasons first. Common reasons for that are as follows:

  • poor quality construction material

  • leaking roofs

  • adjoining apartment floods

  • cracked walls

  • excessive moisture inside the home

  • humidity that comes from the basement

  • poor ventilation.

Consider these common ways to get rid of musty scent:

  • dry the room

  • ventilate the apartment frequently

  • find the places of fungus accumulation and clean them 

  • apply anti-mold agents (fungicides) to the cleaned surface

  • throw away clothes that are severely affected by fungus

  • eliminate all sources of increased air humidity

  • get an ozonator and an air purifier.

Now when you know how to remove mildew smell, you can eliminate all possible causes of dampness and take control of the home atmosphere. It will be beneficial for you and your loved ones. Remember, the smell of dampness along with its source contributes to frequent colds, joint problems, chronic bronchitis, and other diseases. Combating the problem earlier may spare you from eventually having to remove part of the wall that got affected by black mold growing through it.

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