Removing Musty Room Odors

Grumpy’s Tips To Remove Musty Odors

If there is one thing I hate it’s room odors that smell musty or moldy. Who has time for that unpleasant nasty earthy smell when I’m inside my home? If I wanted to smell the dang outdoors I would go outside! Who the heck has time to look up different ways to get rid of smells? Nobody that’s who! So I got you covered.


Old Grumpy’s Quick Solution

  1. Ventilate the room
  2. Find and remove the source of the odor
  3. Fix / Clean the area of the source
  4. Deodorize with baking soda or vinegar
  5. Absorb excess moisture with a moisture absorber
  6. Freshen the air with activated bamboo charcoal bags


General Prevention Tips

The first thing you gotta do is identify the source! Don’t be a dummy trying to remove odor from your home and not take care of what’s stinking up the place! If something smells musty it’s usually something simple like a damp towel behind a counter or mold starting to grow.  Use your nose and determine if its just one room or your entire home. If it’s in multiple rooms you may have a structural leak.

Look for damp towels or cloth that fell behind items, check under your sinks and toilet for leaky pipes, and look for water damage spots on walls, ceiling, and even the floor. Half the work is done just by finding that damp item, fixing the leaking pipe, unclogging the drain, or drying up the wet spot. Unfortunately, there are some situations you can’t simply dry up and repair and will need to replace.

Dry and clean wet spots that are not completely damaged. If you are dealing with a large wet spot then sprinkle baking soda around the area and vacuum a few hours later. If you are dealing with a small wet spot that has some mold then mix baking soda and water into a paste and scrub like your life depended on it. Remember, don’t be a dummy and clean mold spores without protective breathing equipment.

If it’s not freezing or hot as heck outside open your windows! Let some fresh air in and air out that stinky home of yours. Sometimes that smell is from dust or lack of ventilation. Open up cabinets and closets while you are at it. To really get that air moving turn on fans and use portable fans for rooms with little circulation.


Grumpy Says: “Don’t clean mold without protective breathing equipment.”



Odor Eliminators Solutions

Clean, clean, clean, clean! The first step is to clean the room where the odor is coming from. Dust, brush, broom, vacuum, and mop all surfaces.

Now you can focus on the main cause of your smell. This will usually be a wet spot or a spot that was wet and has developed a stain. The two natural cleaners I recommend the most are vinegar and baking soda. They neutralize just about any bad smells and safe to use on everything!

To deodorize with white vinegar simply put it into a spray bottle. Use soap and water to scrub the area to kill off anything growing (If you suspect stubborn mold see the mold section below). Spray the area with the vinegar and allow it to air dry. Don’t use too much water or you will be adding to the issue.

To deodorize with baking soda all you need to do is sprinkle over the area. If the area is wet the powder will clump and that is alright. Leave it out for a few hours to absorb the odor and then vacuum everything up. You can also mix baking soda and water into a paste and scrub to get a good clean.


Grumpy Says: “Vinegar and baking soda are natural recommendations to neutralize odors. ”



Freshening Air Solutions

Once you get rid of whatever the heck stinking up the place now you want to make sure your air stays fresh.

My number one recommendation is to use activated bamboo charcoal. This stuff is great for absorbing impurity odors from the air. Just keep in mind that it can take a week to remove stubborn smells but it lasts a long time. This stuff is proof that burnt out old things like myself is useful to keep around. Now someone go tell that to my wife… Ha Ha!

If you don’t mind having something less inconspicuous than activated charcoal bags then I would suggest Volcanic Zeolite Rocks. They are literally freaking rocks that you put into a bowl to absorb odors! If you are the nature type likes to decorate with rocks then this is a perfect way to freshen up the air while removing some moisture as well.

Since excess humidity can be the first cause of musty smells, my next recommendation is a moisture absorber that also leaves a pleasant scent in the air. This stuff lasts for a couple months and is amazing to see it filled with water pulled from the air. If only I could keep water trapped in my body.

If you are a crazy cat lady like my wife then you may already have the next item laying around. Cat litter is amazing at absorbing moisture and can help remove odors. Just fill a box and place it in closets, attics, basements, or any storage areas.

Most of my recommendations are effective at removing odors. You can always use a commercial air freshener like the Air Wick essential oils to make your home smell nice. I prefer the multi-packs with more than one scent so I can alternate the scent. I freaking get bored with the same smell day after day.

If you want a natural air freshener you can use the power of lemons. Just boil lemon peels in water and set it down in an area you want to air out. You can use a fan to circulate the fragrance. Just don’t be a dummy and place the water-filled pan on an uneven surface where you can spill the water.


Grumpy Says: “Activated bamboo charcoal (carbon) is great for absorbing odors from the air.”



Musty Basement or Attic

Along with my other tips, there are a few things to consider for spaces such as attics and basements.

The first is to maintain temperature control of the space. Mold and old guys like me and prefer warmer temperatures. Keep it cooler and you are less likely to smell that musty scent.

The second consideration is humidity control of the space. The first step to getting rid of musty odors is to control moisture levels. Place a moisture absorber in the area or multiple ones if you have a large space.

Finally, maintain proper ventilation of the area. Open vents to the outside if that is an option, or use oscillating fans to move the air.

Musty Clothing

Clothing can develop musty smells, heck my clothing has smells I didn’t even know existed. Often clean clothing can absorb smells from where they are stored. Make sure you don’t have mold growing in your closet or dresser. Don’t be a dummy and put your clothing away before they completely dry from a cleaning.

Just like rooms make sure you air out the storage area frequently. A box of baking soda or an activated bamboo charcoal bag will help absorb the scent. If your washing machine is the source of smells try doing an empty load with hot water and bleach. For more solutions take a look at the Laundry Room page.

Mold Suggestions

That freaking mold is one of the things I hate the most. It stinks, it damages, and is unhealthy to breathe. You may come across mold while you are cleaning and drying the source of your musty smell. If you do put on a dang mask and try the following cleaning solution.

Mix a cup of white vinegar with a cup of hydrogen peroxide and two cups of water. Scrub the area but make sure you don’t saturate the area with water. Ventilate the room after you are done. For more solutions on how to deal with mold take a look at the Mold & Mildew page.