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How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Basement - Remove Basement Odors Quickly and Effectively

Musty smell in basement is annoying. Do you know how to get rid of musty smell in basement? Here are a detailed guide to help you get rid of musty smell in basement quickly and effectively.

by Lane | 2019-08-21 Share:

how to get rid of musty smell in basement

There's nothing more annoying than the unpleasant musty smell in the house. This smell is often in the basement and it can make the rest of your home smell musty too. Because the warm and musty air from your basement can move up naturally, and the upper floors of your home can absorb at least 50% of it. Do you want to know how to get rid of musty smell in basement and improve the air quality in basements and other parts of your home? In this guide, we will show you how to find the source of musty smell, how to eliminate the musty basement odors and how to prevent them from returning.

Part 1: Find the Source of Musty Smells in Basement

The first step in learning how to get rid of the musty smell in basement is to find the source of musty smells. The basement is an ideal environment for moisture retention and mild or mildew growth, which is why you need to do some investigations to determine the cause of the odor and develop a basement odor elimination plan. To find the sources, start checking the following places:

1: Check pipes for leaks

A small leak in the pipes can lead to a series of problems including the musty smell. 

- Start checking the toilet. You can add a few drops of food color to the tank to see if it enters the toilet bowl after a while. If you have a leaking toilet base, you may need to learn how to fix a leaking toilet.

- Check if you have leaking faucets inside and outside your house.

- If you find peeling or bubbling on the floor under the bathtub, you may have a leaky bathtub.

- Check if you have a clog in the sewer line.

2: Check around windows for leaks

The first sign of a leaking basement window is a puddle of water on the floor every time it rains or snows.

3: Check cardboard boxes

Corrugated cardboard boxes can be a haven for mold because they can absorb moisture from the air. If your basement floor is damp, the bottom of the cardboard boxes may be infested with mold. Check all boxes and separate moldy boxes from others.

4: Check all fabric

Is there any fabric in your basement that might get wet? It's possible that it could harbor mold spores, especially if you've been dealing with severe mold infestations at home.

5: Check the humidity levels of the basement

Once all leaks have been plugged, all standing water around the house has been removed and all blocked drains repaired, you should test the relative humidity level with a hygrometer in the basement. The humidity in your home should be below 60% in summer and 40% in winter. The molds and mildew thrive when relative humidity is above 80%.

>>> Also Read: 4 Methods to Get Rid of Odor in Trash Can

Part 2: 6 Methods to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Basement

Once you have found the source of the problem, you need to take action to get rid of musty smell in basement

1: Throw out the musty items 

If mold has damaged porous organic materials such as cardboard boxes, books, carpets or fiberglass insulation, throw them into plastic garbage bags and dispose of them immediately to prevent further damage. There is no use to clean these musty items, and it is better and cheaper to replace them with something completely new. If your floor joists, floorboards, or drywall has damaged by mold, you can save it by cleaning with a vinegar solution. However, if the damage is severe, it may be more effective to replace the item. For moldy clothes and shoes, either throw them away or wash and dry them thoroughly.

2: Use vinegar and baking soda to kill the mold and remove musty smells

Vinegar and baking soda are natural cleaners at home. You can use them to get rid of garbage disposal smellclean kitchen trash can or more. If you choose to save something with mold, such as wooden furniture or hardwood floors, take the item outside and thoroughly clean it with vinegar and baking soda. You can clean the floors with surface mold in the basement, but make sure to open all the windows for ventilation while you work.

get rid of musty smell in basement

Step 1: Spray the infected areas with white vinegar and let the vinegar absorb the mold for 20 minutes. Vinegar can kill 82% of mold species and also remove the musty smell.

Step 2: Wipe off the mold with a clean cloth. For stubborn mold, scrub the area with a hard brush or sponge and a vinegar solution of about 1/8 cup white vinegar and 1 gallon water. Some people also use a borax solution to remove black mold from floor joists.

Step 3: Once the mold is gone, spray the furniture with a solution of white vinegar or tea tree oil to kill any remaining invisible mold spores.

Step 4: Sprinkle floors and furniture with baking soda to further remove musty smells. 

Step 5: Leave the furniture to dry in direct sunlight which can also kill mold spores, but don't leave it too long, or it may become discolored. Don't use too much water when cleaning floors and walls, and open windows and turn on fans to help everything dry faster.

3: Use alternative cleaning agents

The combination of vinegar and baking soda will be sufficient to remove most mold infestations completely. However, stubborn infestations may need stronger ingredients such as borax, hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil, chlorinated lime, or bleach to kill the black mold. If using bleach, mix bleach with water in a 1:8 ratio and scrub the surface with this solution until the mold are removed. If you use borax, mix a cup of borax with a gallon of hot water and apply it with a cloth. Then rinse the area with other clean cloth, as borax leaves a powdery white residue.

TIP : Wear protective clothing and gloves at all times if you use bleach to remove the mold. Do not mix bleach with vinegar or any other ingredients. Mixing bleach with anything but water will create poisonous chlorine. Bleach can also damage your wood and paint, so use it only on tiles. 

4: Sand away the mold with sandpaper

If the mold is deep into the wood, sand it off with sandpaper and vacuum the dust with a HEPA filter vacuum. HEPA filters can trap mold spores to prevent harmful substances from spreading in the air.

5: Absorb musty smells with desiccant pack, coffee grounds or baking soda

Activated charcoal and baking soda can absorb moisture and any odors in the air. It usually takes about a week for the charcoal and baking soda to absorb the odors if using this method alone. Like baking soda and charcoal, coffee grounds also can absorb odors. You can use old coffee powder, but let it dry first. Place them in small bowls in each corner of the basement to absorb any odors. The basement may then smell like coffee, but the musty smell will disappear. 

6: Add a window fan

Adding window fans to your basement windows can increase ventilation and reduce moisture in the basement area, but you should not use it year round. Use only once in a while on cool, dry days to fresh up the basement air. 

Part 3: How to Prevent Musty Smells

Even if you have gotten rid of the musty smell in basement, the mold and musty smell will return if the moisture returns. You need to keep water out of the house and low humidity level. Here are 5 methods to help you prevent musty smells in basement.

1: Get rid of the darkness and stagnant air

Open the basement windows in dry and cool weather to let the sun and fresh air go through. Do not open windows on hot, cold or rainy days. At warm, cold, or humid temperatures, moisture in the air is good for mold to grow. If you have no windows or sunlight in your basement, consider to install a basement window or use a dehumidifier to control the moisture level.

TIP : Basement windows should let plenty of natural light through. You can install a two-pane window to trap heat in the basement and prevent outside air from coming through.

2: Insulate pipes

The pipes can be covered with insulating materials to prevent them from cooling and generating condensed water. This will prevent water from condensing and dripping to create an oasis of mold.

3: Fix leaks and cracks ASAP and prevent groundwater flooding

Leaking pipes and wall cracks should be repaired as soon as possible, because this is the most common cause of mold. Groundwater flooding also should be handled immediately. This will not only control mold and mildew, but also affect the foundation of your home.

4: Removing potted plants

If you don't have enough sunlight and fresh air in your basement, the potted plants will only contribute to excess moisture, which leads to mold and mildew growth as well as odors.

5: Clean air ducts

If you have air-conditioning ducts in your basement, molds may grow in the duct system of the crawl space. There may even be dead animals, such as rats, rotting in the vents, so you need to properly clean the air ducts to get rid of the musty smell.

6: Replace your trash can with a smart trash can

 If you have a trash can in your basement, be sure to replace it with a smart trash can. Aicool is a water and moisture proof trash can which will prevent the trash from becoming moldy. There is no more leaking or ripping because the trash can will seal the liners automatically and smart enough to deal with excessive trash. What is more, the solid lid will seal the germ and odors inside and the carbon deodorizer helps you get rid of any odor. So it is a good idea to use this smart trash can in your basement to make your life cleaner and smarter.

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The Bottom Line

No one likes the smell of a musty basement in their house. The mold in the basement make it unbearable to live in and cause serious health and safety problems. Hope this guide helps you get rid of musty smell in basement and make you a fresh air environment.

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Related Readings for Reference

• How to Clean A Garbage Disposal - Kitchen Cleaning Tips

• 5 Different Approaches to Get Rid of Cockroaches Permanently

• Why Toilet Smells like Sewage, and How to Get Rid of the Odor

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