Understand where that nasty odor is coming from and banish it for good with this four-part plan.

Musty Smell in the Basement? 4 Steps to Freshness Photo: istockphoto.com Q: Lately, I notice a musty smell whenever I go into my basement. What’s causing the odor and most how do I get rid of it? A: That unpleasant, musty smell—some people describe it as akin to a wet dog—in is the calling card of mold and/or mildew. The spores of these ubiquitous fungi drift through the air until they find the damp, dark, and warm environment that allow them to multiply and thrive—conditions common to basements. Although the majority of mold species found inside homes aren’t harmful to humans, some people are allergic to the spores and develop symptoms that include a stuffy or runny nose, headache, fatigue, coughing or wheezing, and itchy or runny eyes after spending time in a mildewed or moldy room. Stachybotrys chartarum, commonly called black mold, is linked to more serious symptoms, including chest tightness and difficulty breathing, a burning sensation in the nose and throat, dizziness, headache, and trouble concentrating. Luckily, however, black mold isn’t nearly as common as less toxic types. Get a professional consultation Find licensed mold removal experts in your area and get free, no-commitment estimates for your project. HomeAdvisor Logo + BobVila.com Logo

The musty smell in your basement from unfettered mold and mildew growth also presents potential harm to your home’s structure.

These fungi feed on organic materials, which include wood, many types of fabric, paper, and even some glues. Given enough time, mold can heavily stain your walls, floors, and ceilings; decay wood studs and drywall; damage carpets; and eat away at wallpaper. Mold that’s reached this level requires the services of a professional trained in mold remediation, but you can easily deal with a simple case of funky mildew smell and mild mold staining yourself. RELATED: 12 Big Mistakes That Lead to Mold and Mildew Growth Simply banishing the odor won’t eliminate the issue, though; mold and mildew spores can start to multiply in as little as 24 hours if conditions are perfect, so to really conquer the stink, you must tackle the problem at the root by following these next four steps. Here's What Causing That Musty Smell in the Basement Photo: istockphoto.com

Look for leaks in the basement that might lead to mold and mildew growth.

Discovering the source of humidity in your basement is the key to vanquishing mold and mildew (and may alert you to other issues as well). Two common and easily handled problems are condensation dripping off an uninsulated pipe or water leaking through a basement window.

  • Many basements have exposed pipes running along the ceiling or down the walls. If you spot water “sweating” off these pipes, insulate them with foam pipe wrap, available at home improvement center for less than $10. The lengths of rubbery foam are pre-cut so you can easily slip them right over pipes. However, if the pipe is actively leaking, not just sweating, call a plumber without delay to repair it.
  • If your basement has windows, look for water running down the glass or puddling underneath the window when it rains. If you spot water, remove leaves and other debris that could be clogging the outside window wells. Fill the wells with gravel to help reduce the chance of clogs. Replace old weather stripping and caulk, as well, to seal any small leaks around the window frames.

If you see water coming through a crack in the basement wall or seeping up from the foundation, the problem is a serious one outside the scope of the typical homeowner’s DIY abilities. Contact a contractor who specializes in basement repairs and waterproofing.

Lower the humidity level to under 60 percent with a dehumidifier.

Due to its underground position, your basement tends to stay cooler than the upper levels of your home during the warmer months. That can be a problem, though, when warmer air from upstairs circulates into the basement. As the warmer air rapidly cools in the basement’s lower temperature, water vapor condenses into a film of moisture that settles on the basement walls, as well as any furnishings or other items stored in the space. Moisture from the soil can also seep into a basement through the foundation, increasing indoor humidity further. The preferred level of indoor humidity for most people is between 30 and 50 percent, while mold thrives with humidity of 60 percent or higher. Test your basement’s level with a hygrometer (available at Amazon), which shows the relative humidity of a room at a glance. Then, consider purchasing a dehumidifier to make things more comfortable for you, and less hospitable to mold and mildew. Among the several types of dehumidifiers available, a compressor dehumidifier is best suited to basements. These devices reduce air humidity by sucking the room air over chilled coils, causing the moisture to condense into a storage tank. A good choice an average-size basement is the Frigidaire 70-Pint Dehumidifier with Effortless Humidity Control (available at Amazon). RELATED: The Best Dehumidifiers for Any Basement Musty Smell in Basement? Here's How to Clean Up Photo: istockphoto.com

Clean up all mold or mildew spores present.

Once you’ve gotten excess humidity under control, clean away the odor-producing mold and mildew.

  • Start by getting rid of any moldy or soggy cardboard boxes or other papers you’ve been storing in the basement. Mold thrives on paper products. Pack away salvageable holiday decorations and other items in large plastic containers with securely fitted lids.
  • Wash and dry any garments on the hottest settings safe for the fabric to remove mildew and mold spores.
  • Trash seriously stinky upholstered furniture, but try to save a lightly affected piece with spot treatment. First vacuum the piece (discarding the filter and bag when you’re done), then wipe it down thoroughly with a clean sponge dipped in a mixture of equal parts water and rubbing alcohol. Let it air dry completely outdoors in a sunny spot for several hours—UV rays of direct sunlight kill mold spores.
  • Next, tackle any spots of mold on the walls, ceiling, or floors with bleach. Mix four parts of water to one part of household bleach and take a stiff cleaning brush to the surface. Once the mold spots are gone, wipe the surfaces with clean water on a clean sponge and then let air-dry.

Neutralize the musty smell in the basement.

To remove any lingering musty smell, try the old-fashioned yet effective remedy of setting out a few small bowls of baking soda around the room; baking soda absorbs and neutralizes odor molecules well. Alternately, set out a few bowls of white vinegar, which also neutralize odor molecules. For more resistant smells, it’s hard to beat the moisture-and-odor-absorbing qualities of DampRid, which contains salt crystals. A four-pound tub, large enough for up to 1,000 square feet, should cost you less than $10 at Amazon. Don’t want to do it yourself? Professional mold inspection may be the answer. Get free, no-commitment estimates from licensed service providers near you. HomeAdvisor Logo + BobVila.com Logo The basement can be one of the smelliest places in a home, and the odor can be caused by a variety of problems. If the basement smells musty, then it is most likely due to the presence of mold and mildew in your basement. Molds and mildew thrive in damp places. To prevent illness caused by mold and mildew, you need to remove the musty odor from your home. The musty odor is often strongest during the spring and fall seasons when the windows are closed, and the utilities are not running. To get rid of musty smell in the basement, make sure you keep all areas of your home well ventilated.

What Causes the Musty Basement Smell?

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew not only cause odors in your basement, they can also damage the structural integrity of your home on porous surfaces such as wood if left unchecked. Much of the underlying structure of your home is made of wood, so make sure you treat mold early to prevent serious structural damage. The mold spores can also cause or aggravate respiratory health issues like asthma and allergies. Often, respiratory illness is one of the earliest signs of a mold problem since they make people more sensitive to the presence of mold and mold spores. It is also important to clean the air ducts on a regular basis and have the ventilation system checked at least once every two years. Mold in your basement can get into the ventilation and HVAC systems of your home, spreading the problem and mildew smell from basement throughout the rest of the home.

Damp Basements

Basements often smell musty because they're damp Standing water tends to have a particular odor, a combination of mold and stagnation that is extremely unpleasant! If there’s dampness or standing water in your basement, you’re likely going to get mold if you haven’t already, so make sure the problem is addressed quickly. There are two main causes of damp basements; water leaks and condensation (due to high humidity). If the basement has a musty or damp smell, it might be helpful to try getting a dehumidifier. You can also air out the room by opening the windows if your basement has any. To prevent water leaks, make sure that the basement is waterproofed. Even a small leak can lead to a lot of moisture on the basement floors. If you can see leaks or water stains, then you should take care of it right away before they can lead to serious damage to the foundation of your home. If you find a leak, make sure you inspect the area around the property to make sure that the water flows away from your house and not toward it. Downspouts must be extended at least six feet from the wall. And if you find water pooling near the walls, correct the slope right away, so that pooling along the walls is avoided.


Another common reason for musty smells in a basement is pets and pet supplies. Many people keep cat litter boxes, spare litter, or similar items in their basements to keep the smell out of their homes. However, this is usually fairly easy to rule out; just remove pet supplies from your basement temporarily to make sure that there’s not another reason for the musty smell- such as a hidden mold problem. As soon as you find out what it is, you need to get rid of that musty smell from the basement at the source. Just covering up the smell isn’t enough. You need to remove any mold and mildew quickly, and then place dehumidifiers, cat litter, or baking soda to absorb the moisture and any residual odor.

Cleaning Up Mold and Mildew

Mold and Mildew Cleaning Solution

If there is mold and mildew in your wet basement, you can begin killing mold with a few simple cleaning products that you most likely at home. All you need is to mix one-half cup of bleach with one gallon of warm water. Place the solution in a spray bottle and clean the area of mold and mildew. Make sure that the windows are open to keep air circulating. You can use the cleaning solution on basement floors, bathrooms, walls, cement, laundry area, and other parts of the basement that will not have a reaction to bleach. Another option is to use vinegar. A similar vinegar and water mixture can clean anything that you can’t put bleach on in your basement. Again, you’ll want to make sure that air is circulating. Once it’s clean, use bowls or cups of baking soda to absorb the vinegar smell from the air. These methods work best if you don’t have a lot of severe mold or water damage. If you find quite a bit of damage make sure you call mold remediation professionals.

Use Kitty Litter or Baking Soda

Even if you don’t have any pet cats, you can use scented cat litter or baking soda to get rid of the moldy basement smell. Those two products tend to absorb moisture and odors. Just be careful; these items don’t actually fix the problem. All they do is hide the musty odor. To remove the odor, all you need to do is place the litter or baking soda in an open container and put it in the basement. Make sure to change it out regularly. If you have a large basement, use multiple containers. This can also work well in vacant houses to keep them fresh smelling.

Removing Excess Moisture From The Air

If your basement is even partially underground, there’s a good chance the mold and mildew are coming from excess humidity in the air. There are several ways to maintain the level of humidity in the home, such as open windows and using dehumidifiers. The best way to remove moisture from a damp basement is to keep a dehumidifier down there. A single dehumidifier in the basement will remove quite a bit of the dampness and lessen the smell.

Preventing Mold Growth

Preventing mold growth and mold exposure can be done simply and easily with a few easy steps. You start by alleviating any mold problems as soon as you notice them so that the smell (as well as the mold itself) doesn’t spread to the upper levels of your home. It is important that you get rid of the main cause of the problem before you clean up the area. With mold removal, the smell will be less likely to return and prevent mold growing in the near future. The best way to prevent future mold growth is to make sure that your basement isn’t too damp. There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Keep an eye out for any water leaks in your basement and repair them quickly before mold can grow.
  • Make sure there’s no standing water and plenty of ventillation in the area.
  • If the humidity in your basement is above 50%, consider getting a dehumidifier.
  • Check for air leaks in the basement that can let water enter.
  • Make sure that your downspouts are draining water far enough away from your foundation.
  • Check your vents for cracks and loose ducts.
  • Check for and repair any settlement cracks in the foundation of your home.
  • If flooding in your basement is a common problem, consider having a sump pump installed.

Do Dehumidifiers Help With Mold?

In short, yes. However, they are primarily helpful with minor mold issues and with preventing mold in the future. Mold grows in damp places, and dehumidifiers help reduce moisture. If you find large amounts of mold in your basement, your best bet is going to be to clean up the mold first, then work on preventative measures such as getting a dehumidifier. If you need help with Mold Remediation or Odor Removal, give us a call at 888-777-9742! When you’ve lived with musty basement smells for long enough, it’s easy to start thinking that basements are supposed to be like this. Since it’s dark down there and close to the earth, isn’t this just something you need to live with? Not necessarily. It’s true that basements’ qualities factor into the musty smells—being fully or partially below-grade, less light, less fresh air. But not all basements need to become musty. Plus, basements that are already musty can often be turned around with a few simple, inexpensive methods.

What Causes a Basement’s Musty Smell

You know it instantly. It’s unique and unmistakable: basement smell. You’ll never walk into a garage or even a bathroom and mistake its smell for that of a basement. Basement musty smell is variously described as earthy or meaty, or similar to rotten wood, wet socks, mushrooms, or a wet dog. Adding in certain tangy or sweet notes brings the odor closer to that of a truly musty basement. Identifying and understanding the causes of a basement’s musty smell is vital because these causes directly correlate to your solutions:

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are the chief drivers of basement musty smell. Both are fungi that thrive on water, oxygen, and food. While often confused with each other, mold and mildew are actually different. Mold is usually thicker and higher, even developing a moss-like, fuzzy appearance. By contrast, mildew is flat. Mold can be colorful, ranging from dark greens to grays and blacks. Mildew is usually brown or gray, eventually turning to a white powder.

Good to Know

According to the EPA, headaches, nasal irritation, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea are sometimes a result of mold or mildew basement mustiness, but research is still inconclusive.

Other Basement Smell Contributors

With mold and mildew forming the majority of a basement’s musty smell, other causes can round off the smell and give it that singular odor:

  • Damp Materials: Drywall, fiberglass and rockwool insulation, and especially wood in all forms can add to a basement’s musty smell when wet and not allowed to properly dry out.
  • Sewage: Sewage lines typically run through the basement before continuing outside. Sewage problems can range from improperly fitted pipes that emit odors to liquid sewage spills from pipes.
  • Animal Waste: Rodent droppings look like dark grains of rice and can contribute to the sour smell in a basement. Not only that, rodent feces can spread diseases such as hantavirus and salmonella.
  • Iron Ochre or Iron Bacteria: Iron ochre looks like slimy mud. In fact, this vibrant red-brown wet material is a bacteria that feeds off of iron and adds a rotten-egg smell to the basement.

Steps to Ridding Your Basement of Musty Smells

Always begin with mold/mildew eradication, which also means eradicating or limiting moisture in the basement. When you rid your basement of mold and mildew, you have taken care of the main source of the basement musty smell.

Make Your Basement as Dry as Possible

Begin drying your basement by first drying the outside of your basement. Effective exterior water management can often stop the water before it even enters the basement.

  • Create a slope so that the soil next to the house is pitched down and away.
  • Create a drainage system that takes water far away from the house.
  • Create berms, barriers, or French drains in the yard to divert water.
  • Protect basement windows with window well covers.
  • Waterproof and dampproof the foundation wall with a liquid or solid membrane.
  • Install or fix drainpipes and gutters or clear them out.

Inside of the basement:

  • Coat the inside of the foundation with ready-mix waterproof coatings.
  • Install or fix a sump pump.
  • Install a system of dehumidifiers.

Clean or Replace Moldy, Mildewy, or Damp or Rotted Materials

All wet or damp materials must be dried out as quickly as possible and cleaned or removed and replaced. Floating (unattached to the subfloor) hard floorings such as laminate and vinyl can be pulled up and dried. If the underside of the laminate is waterlogged, it should be replaced. Remove baseboards to pull back wall-to-wall carpeting and padding and examine the bottom. Circles usually indicate mildew spots. Black mold will be obvious as dark stains.


Research by the Carpet and Rug Institute shows that mildew is as much a function of dirt as it is of moisture. After all, not only does fungi need moisture but it needs food, and dirt and dust are often its food. So, whenever you dry out an area, thoroughly clean it, too.

Check and Repair Leaky Pipes

Your home is laced with pipes everywhere, starting with the water shutoff (where the water line enters the home, moving to the water heater, and back out again to bathrooms and the kitchen. Soil stacks carry unpleasant odors out of the house and equalize pressure on the pipes. Inspect all visible pipes for leaks. Hidden pipes may run through ceilings and leak onto the drywall. It’s often worthwhile to hire a plumber to also check for pipe leaks.

Hire a Pest Control Company

For the occasional mouse or two, set traps. But if you have a persistent problem with rodents and insects, you may want to place your home under a pest control contract. After an initial treatment, pest control technicians return on a regular basis. Pest control contracts are also important to have in place if you intend to sell your home, as they can often be a condition of sale.

Clean Any Iron Ochre

Wearing waterproof gloves, use a putty knife to scrape away large portions of the iron ochre slime. Follow with a rust remover. Likely, you will not be able to remove all of the color stains. But the majority of the odor-producing iron ochre will be gone.

How to Get Rid of Basement Odor (and Why It Smells in the First Place)

0 Does your basement smell dank and stale, like a wet dog has been hanging around? An unpleasant, musty smell is usually the first sign of a more serious issue. Basement odor removal is necessary to maintain your quality of life and the value of your home. This holds true whether your space is a finished living area or a storage room. Identifying and eliminating foul basement smells takes more than leaving a few air fresheners lying around. Read on for some ways you can get your basement smelling fresh.

Why Does My Basement Smell Musty?

Before you find a way to get the musty smell out of your basement, you need to figure out why it smells in the first place. Consider these common reasons why your basement has an unpleasant odor. Black Mold Buildup on Wall.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are the primary culprits for musty basement smells. Damp, dark spaces are the perfect breeding ground for mold spores and mildew. They spread across your basement floor, walls and ceiling, as well as anything you have stored nearby. Mold is particularly bad news. It can lead to health concerns, from mild allergic symptoms to respiratory issues. Mold feeds on organic materials like wood and fabric, so it can lead to structural damage and stain basement surfaces. If your basement flooded, you could have a significant mold situation that requires the attention of a professional. But you should be able to safely handle a small amount of mold on your own. Before you go looking for these fungi, the EPA recommends wearing personal protective equipment. This includes gloves, an N-95 respirator and goggles or eye protection. Search your entire basement for black or green mold with a fuzzy appearance. Mildew is usually gray, white or light brown and can appear powdery. Both come with a stink. Check furnishings and cardboard boxes in addition to floors, walls, ceilings and hidden corners. In finished basements, consider peeling back wallpaper and lifting carpet or flooring. Mold may have found its way between these materials and the bare surfaces. It can also feed on the adhesive. Puddle in the Corner of a Basement.


General dampness in your basement is a key contributor to developing mold and mildew. But it can lead to basement odor by itself. Moisture in your basement can come from multiple sources.

  • Pipes: Manage leaks from pipes as soon as possible. A consistent drip will run up your water bill and leave your basement damp. Leaks aren’t always as obvious as a dripping sound or visible drops of water falling from a pipe. Be on the lookout for wall discoloration or bubbling paint or wallpaper. These can indicate pipes leaking behind a wall. Inspect visible pipes, valves and connections for discoloration. This is a sign of oxidation and indicates a leak. Water condensation dripping from exposed pipes can also add to basement moisture.
  • Foundation and Wall Cracks: If you notice a musty smell in your basement after rain, it may be a sign water is coming in through your foundation. Water leaks can come from cracks in your basement wall or seep up from cracks in the foundation. These will need the attention of a trained professional. Call a company that specializes in basement repairs and waterproofing. Look around the exterior of your foundation as well. Any cracks or damage to the concrete or brick are also warning signs.
  • Windows: When it rains, does water run down your basement windows or pool underneath? If the seals are wearing down, that’s an easy way for water to get into your basement.

Overflowing Kitchen Sink With Clogged Drains.


It’s gross, but it happens. Major plumbing issues from the upstairs bathroom or kitchen can lead to a sewage odor from the drain pipes in the basement. Worse yet, you may find liquids and solids working their way out of the pipes. If you notice any leaks coming from the sewage lines running through your basement, call a plumber immediately. Those lines have a limited shelf life that should be top of mind, especially if you’re living in an older home. Copper pipes last about 70 to 80 years, while brass, galvanized steel and cast-iron pipes typically have an 80- to 100-year lifespan. PVC pipes can last 25 to 40 years, with some of the more modern pipes lasting 70 or more years. PVC Pipe and P-trap Under Sink.

Other Issues

If your basement is dry but still smells musty, there are other issues to consider. Here are some other causes of foul basement smells.

  • Drains: Check your floor drains or p-traps under any sinks in your basement. The p-trap is the u-shaped pipe in the sink drain system. They hold a small amount of water to keep sewer gases from rising into your home. If the sink isn’t used a lot, the liquid in the p-trap can dry out, allowing the gas to come up. Similarly, a dried-out floor drain will allow sewer gases to come up into your basement. Try pouring a few cups of water into your floor drains and basement sinks every so often.
  • Pets: If you have pets, furniture and carpets may develop odors over time. Take steps to minimize these odors by cleaning and deodorizing — particularly after your furry friend has an accident.
  • Mice: Not all animal smells are from the cute ones we want in our homes. Urine and droppings from invading rodents can create nasty smells. They can spread hantavirus and salmonella, as well. And if a mouse dies inside your walls, expect a foul odor for a time after. If you see evidence of mice or other nuisance animals, try these DIY pest control tips or call an exterminator.

Homeowner Scrubbing Mold and Mildew From Wall.

How to Get Rid of Basement Odor

Now that you’ve pin-pointed the reason for the offensive smell in your basement, it’s time to deal with it. Here are some simple ways to get musty smells out of your basement and eliminate moisture throughout.

Remove Mold and Mildew From Surfaces

There are a few ways to kill and clean mold and mildew from surfaces using household products, like bleach or undistilled white vinegar. Always wear PPE when dealing with mold. Ventilate the area as much as possible. Open windows and doors to allow fresh air to enter. Use fans to keep the air circulating and to move cleaning agent vapors toward open windows and doors. You should keep the area ventilated even after you’ve finished cleaning to help air out the area. If using bleach, first clean the hard surfaces affected by the mold with water and dish detergent. Then, use a diluted bleach solution to kill the mold. The CDC recommends mixing no more than 8 ounces of household laundry bleach per 1 gallon of water. Never mix bleach with other products, particularly ammonia. This will create toxic gases called chloramines that are corrosive to your eyes and lungs. Be sure to follow all safety instructions when using bleach. Soak a stiff cleaning brush with the bleach solution and scrub the mold and mildew spots until they’re gone. Then, rinse the surfaces with clean water and a fresh sponge. Dry the area quickly and thoroughly. Using a fan or dehumidifier helps the drying process. If you have pets or small children, you might consider an alternative to bleach. Pets can be particularly susceptible to bleach poisoning depending on how it’s used. Undiluted white vinegar is a great natural way to kill mold. Fill an empty spray bottle with vinegar and use it to saturate the mold growth. Allow it to sit for at least an hour. Then, fill a clean spray bottle with a teaspoon of baking soda and two cups of water. Shake well and spray directly onto the mold and any stains. Scrub with a scrub brush or scouring pad. Finally, clean the area with warm water.

Note: Never mix vinegar with bleach or with hydrogen peroxide. Both mixtures create toxic chemicals.

You can also find special mold-cleaning sprays and solutions found at your local hardware store.

Pro Tip: The EPA advises calling a mold remediation professional if there has been a lot of water damage or if mold covers more than 10 square feet.

Improve Water Management Around Your Foundation

When it rains, does the water pool around the foundation of your home rather than drain away? If so, this water can find its way into your basement if your foundation sits below grade. You’ll need to address drainage issues in your yard. This includes anything from extending your downspout to improving your yard slope or pitch of the land around your foundation.

Waterproof Your Basement

Mold and mildew are sure signs that you need to waterproof your basement. Minor basement leaks are easily handled with a few DIY steps. These include replacing window wells outside of your home or cleaning your gutters and adjusting your downspouts. For serious leaks coming through cracks in your basement walls or floor, we highly recommend contacting a professional waterproofing company. They will inspect your home and let you know what to do to keep a dry, odor-free basement long-term.

Insulate and Repair Your Pipes

Aside from repairing or replacing leaky pipes, insulating them alleviates condensation. Insulating your copper or PEX water pipes is easy enough for the average homeowner to handle.

  • Buy foam or rubber pipe insulation at your local hardware store. Measure the length of the pipes you want to insulate to get an idea of how much foam pipe insulation you need.
  • Using a utility knife, cut the insulation to the appropriate lengths to fit your pipes. Some insulation comes pre-slit. Otherwise, you’ll need to use your knife to slit the insulation yourself.
  • Fit it over the pipes and seal it using duct tape. If your insulation is pre-slit, it may also have its own adhesive, which is helpful.
  • Use fiberglass pipe wrap instead of foam in high-heat areas, like near your furnace or water heater. It’s also great if you’re insulating pipes with a lot of turns and bends.

Unless you have plumbing experience, we recommend hiring a plumber to handle leaks and more serious issues.

Pro Tip: When buying pipe insulation, check the R Value on the product packaging. The R Value measures its thermal resistance, or its ability to resist air from passing through it. The higher the R Value, the more effective the insulation.

Seal or Replace Your Basement Windows

If the seals around your windows are breaking down, you can replace them with adhesive foam sealant. Caulking additional leaks around the exterior window frame is also a simple fix. If you have window wells, clear out any leaves or debris that could be creating a clog. Consider installing a window well cover to prevent clogs. For window frames with rusty metal or rotted wood, it might be time to replace them completely.

Absorb Musty Basement Smells with Baking Soda

Baking soda is a great way to naturally deodorize your basement. Set bowls of baking soda in the corners of your basement. It absorbs musty odors and can maintain absorbency for up to three months.

Note: Baking soda isn’t harmful to pets or kids unless it’s ingested in large amounts. That said, it’s probably a good idea to keep it out of their reach.

Woman Setting Up Dehumidifier on the Floor.

Keep That Musty Basement Odor From Returning

After going through all that trouble to get rid of mold and dry out your basement, prevent the odor and dampness from returning. Be sure to:

  • Regularly clean your basement.
  • Get a dehumidifier to regulate the humidity in your basement. Use a hygrometer to check the humidity level and keep it around 45% to 55% to prevent mold and mildew growth. Hygrometers measure the amount of water vapor in a given atmosphere. Common hygrometers in households include mechanical and digital.
  • Take time to declutter your house, especially in the basement where stuff is “out of sight, out of mind.” Remember, having more cardboard boxes and furnishings in your basement means more surfaces for mold and mildew to grow on.
  • Use plastic bins with lids when storing items — mold spores feed on cardboard boxes.
  • Clean any clothing or furniture that may be harboring mold spores.
  • Clear your gutters and downspouts, which are crucial to draining water away from your home’s foundation.
  • Stay on top of repairing leaky pipes.
  • Avoid putting carpet in your basement, because the fibers can absorb moisture.

Get Rid of Musty Smells in Your House From the Ground Up

Mold, mildew and foul odors aren’t exclusive to your basement. Now that you’ve got the lowest point of your house taken care of, tackle the rest of the house with these handy guides.

  • How to Protect Your Home From Water Damage
  • How to Deep Clean Your House

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