How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Basement

Sometimes a musty smell can be the result of dampness, mold, or mildew. It is essential to know what the cause is so that it can be adequately addressed. Everyone usually hates the nasty smell coming ground. Here, this article will help you to learn the ways of how to get rid of musty smell in basement. You’ll learn about all types of things that could lead to an odor in your basement, including water sources, humidity levels, and ventilation.

The first step is identifying which type of problem you’re dealing with because steps for remediation are easier to find once placed as they will address specific issues.

Hopefully, this blog post helps you understand why your basement may smell bad and provides some solutions to getting rid of a musty smell in a basement.

What causes a basement to smell musty?

The smell of a basement is typically musty and has many different descriptions including earthy, meaty, or similar to wet socks. It’s important to identify the causes for this unique scent so you can solve them!

Mold and mildew:

Mold and mildew grow in dark, damp locations like basements. When they are not cleaned up properly or frequently enough, the musty smell can linger for a long time. It’s important to clean them because mold and mildew cause damage to your home as well as health problems if left untreated.


Rodents and other nocturnal animals love to make small corners in the basement of your home their homes. They leave waste and urine behind, which is a major cause for bad odors. Even worse, when these creatures die inside walls or crevices within those spaces foul smells are emitted into the air around you!


When it comes to sewage, all other smells are left in the dust. However, before you call a plumber for sewer odors because there’s an issue with your plumbing system that needs fixing; make sure these aren’t just regular old smelly garbage (or something worse) emitting from somewhere else!

Damp Materials:

If a basement is not adequately dried out, it can smell musty. Drywall, fiberglass and rockwool insulation are materials that contribute to the odor if dampness persists without drying properly. Wood in all forms also emits odors which worsen this problem.

Iron Ochre or Iron Bacteria:

Although the bacteria appear to be slimy mud, it is actually a vibrant red-brown wet material that feeds off of iron and adds an unpleasant odor.

Check out our articles for the best air purifiers for basements

How to Get Rid of Basement Smell

A musty smell in your basement is not only unpleasant, but it also indicates the presence of mold. Not only can this make you sick and cause serious health concerns, but if left unresolved for too long will ruin all nearby furniture or carpets as well.

If you want to get rid of the musty smell in your basement, try these tips. They will teach you how to treat the mold behind it and what type of repairs or changes need doing for there not to be a buildup again!

1. Find the Source of the Odor

We should immediately inspect the moldy areas of our home to make sure we find all possible sources. Mold and mildew can ruin a house. They grow in warm, humid spaces like bathrooms or kitchens where water pools on walls for too long without evaporating away.

If you suspect moldy smells are coming from an area of your home with black stains, leaks near the ceiling or leaks anywhere else around faucets or pipes it’s likely mold is growing there as well. We must act quickly to ensure they don’t continue living in these areas!

2. Let in Some Air

Once you’ve identified the source of moisture, begin to repair what is already damaged. On a sunny day, open your basement windows and let in some fresh air.

3. Check for Condensation and Water Leaks

When you see any signs of water leakage, such as condensation or stains on your basement walls and flooring, protect the integrity of your home’s foundation by stopping it immediately. To reduce mildew odors in these spaces, wrap exposed pipes with insulation.

4. Dry Out the Basement

In order to dry out your basement, first, turn on dehumidifiers and use them throughout the day. If possible, keep windows open for a few hours with fans circulating air into the room.

You can also try opening up your basement door and using an additional fan downstairs as well to increase ventilation in the space without any windows available!

 5. Use Activated Charcoal

To get rid of that musty smell, place a container with activated charcoal in the area for few days. It is an efficient way to get rid of bad odors and does not stain as much as it may seem at first sight.

You can find activated charcoal for sale in fish stores; however, be careful because it stains easily.

6. Use Baking Soda 

The cheapest way to eliminate musty smells in your home is baking soda. You can spread it across an area with humidity and leave it on for a day before cleaning the space. Baking Soda absorbs moisture and neutralizes odors. It also works well as a refrigerator or cabinet deodorizer!

7. Use Vinegar with Lemon

Unfortunately, moisture can severely affect the quality of our homes. However, with a few easy ingredients, you can make your own cleaner to help get rid of fungi while also preventing it from growing back! All that is needed are equal parts white vinegar and lemon juice (or distilled white vinegar) as well as some water.

Apply this mixture onto affected areas overnight before rinsing off in the morning for an effective solution free of harsh chemicals which may have adverse effects on health or damage surfaces!

8. Use an Air Purifier

Air purifiers are good to use in basements. These devices improve air circulation and reduce pollutants such as mold spores and dust. Having an air purifier can help make the overall quality of indoor living spaces better, especially if they don’t have windows for sunlight or fresh outdoor airflow into them at all times during each day.

9. Use a Dehumidifier

Reduce the likelihood of mold and mildew in your basement with a dehumidifier. We recommend using one that can lower moisture levels to 60 percent because this will keep you from smelling dampness or seeing any type of growth on walls or floors.

10. Clean the ventilation system

Ensure that your home’s air ducts and vents are cleaned every two years to avoid harmful odors, dust accumulation, and clogged airflow.

11. Clean all upholstery

To prevent mold buildup in the basement, you should clean all furniture and rugs. If they’ve been damp or wet for a while, dry them out before using them again. Using an efficient vacuum cleaner can help remove dust quickly and also avoid spreading it around other areas of your house to create more issues later on.

Mold is extremely difficult to get rid of once it starts forming, so preventing its growth as much as possible will be beneficial long term!

12. Clean all molds and mildew

Mold and mildew can be removed with a solution of bleach or vinegar. Scrub with a sponge and allow the area to dry completely (leaving the clean area damp will cause new mold to grow). Check all areas that are prone to mold in your house. These include laundry rooms, windows, bathrooms, and carpets, as well as furniture such as couches or mattresses.

13. Check the direction of the water flow outside the house

The house owner should inspect the area around their home to make sure rainwater does not accumulate in problem areas. If there are any problems, they must correct those issues so that water flows away from the property and doesn’t stay long.

 14. Wash clothes stored in the basement

If you store clothes in the basement, make sure to clean them and dry them before finding another location thoroughly. Otherwise, they will continue smelling bad after you’ve cleaned up any stains or odors because of their close proximity to your source of bad smells (the garbage can).

 15. Clear all shadows

To get rid of any scents that might be lingering in your home, remove all window curtains and blinds. Wash them carefully to make sure there are no left behind odors that could lead to a new smell!

16. Prevent Groundwater Flooding

When water accumulates around your home’s foundation, it can lead to mold and mildew growth or cause flooding. You must handle the problem immediately because this protects against these issues and ensures that your house isn’t compromised in other ways, such as a damaged foundation.

Installing either a perimeter drainage system or a sump pump is a great option for preventing ground/surface water from entering basements, which will damage foundations.

17. Remove Potted Plants

Your basement is a dark and dreary place. If you grow plants, they will only contribute to the excess moisture that leads to mold and mildew growth, as well as offensive odors caused by plant decay. Additionally, your houseplants can develop fungus, which attracts thousands of annoying gnats in no time!

18. Install Plastic Vapor Barriers

To keep your basement dry, consider using a plastic vapor barrier. The damp-proofing on your home can prevent air from seeping through ceilings, walls, and floors, which dehumidifies the entire area since it prevents mold from forming due to its damp-proofing effect. In the long run, you save yourself from cleaning costs, energy spent on drying out affected areas, and many more issues with mold.

19. Clean any Iron Ochre

With waterproof gloves, start by scraping large portions of the iron ochre slime with a putty knife. Then follow up using a rust remover to get rid of most stains and odor-producing substances that are left behind.

20. Use Effective Air Freshener and Odor Control Products

The best way to ensure your basement remains fresh, clean, and odor-free is by using air freshening products.

21. Remove unwanted items

Do not keep unused items in your basement for very long. The longer you leave them there, the more likely they will gather dust and smell unpleasant over time. It is best to clear out the clutter of unused things in your home to make your house cleaner and healthier.


No matter how many paragraphs you read, chances are you are still confused about how to get rid of basement odor. While the answer to this question has not been discovered yet, I will answer a few common questions below to clear things up.

1. Does Damp Rid Work in Basements?

Answer: Damp-Rid has worked very well for many builders and homeowners. It is a non-toxic, eco-friendly solution that will eliminate moisture issues during a day or two without interfering with your daily routine. All basements should have vents, but even if you don’t, Damp Rid performs just as well as other notoriously smelly venting systems when installed on a floor void behind the wall.

If you’re looking for accurate basement ventilation system reviews, check out our team’s article on basement dehumidifier options here. By controlling humidity levels, you can solve most dampness problems in your home.

2. What Can I Use to Absorb Moisture in My Basement?

Answer: Sometimes it feels like your basement is dripping with cold condensation and stagnant water. But it doesn’t have to be like that. There are a number of items that can absorb the excess moisture in the air. These include kiln-dried plasterboard cement, crushed rock aggregate (only use this if there is proper drainage), vermiculite, and calcium bentonite.

If you live near a quarry or other source of crushed stone aggregate, try to get the aggregate at least 50 yards from the source before you crush it into pea-sized pieces. Make sure there’s good water drainage around your area, too, because when it rains, running water could pick up some extra material that will end up clogging your drainage pipes.

3. Will a dehumidifier get rid of musty smell?

Answer: Yes. Natural and artificial air dehumidifiers are good at eliminating musty smells because they remove water from the air, which causes the musty particles to clump together and fall out of suspension in the air.

First, you’ll want to check where the water inlet is plugged into your wall – it’s possible that there isn’t enough power coming from that outlet to drive the dehumidifier properly. Next, you’ll want to make sure that it’s on a separate circuit with a breaker, outage, or GFCI downstream of any humidifiers and devices drawing water…this avoids overheating as well as shutting off once the other draw spot dry air.

Then you’ll need to find out which drain makes it easiest for you to empty the tank without pouring over-molding or furniture (if necessary), then simply plug it in.

4. Do I need to run dehumidifier in basement in winter?

Answer: Absolutely. You need to run the dehumidifier year-round in order to maintain a healthy humidity level. The degree of discomfort you feel from dry air depends on how well your furnace works, but it’s still important to keep relative humidity at about 30% through the winter and spring months.

Bringing down the indoor humidity also reduces heating and cooling costs as less moisture means less energy expenditure for both functions.

5. Is mold in the basement dangerous?

Answer: Of course not. Mold is present everywhere! Mold can grow in just about any enclosed and humid environment, so it’s found chiefly indoors near walls or on the underside of floors. It will also be present outdoors as splashback from wet leaves or soil – but don’t worry; there are ways you can prevent its spread.

Because mold prefers warm atmospheric air temperatures (between 25°C to 34°C), it will usually die when the weather is too cold outside for more than 6 months – until such time that these temperature thresholds increase again. For this reason, you are unlikely to see any kind of visible damage unless mold is allowed to grow over an extended period (months).


We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, from how to identify when you have a musty smell in your basement and what it means for the overall quality of your home’s air quality, to some simple solutions that will help put an end to unpleasant odors. If there is one thing we hope you take away from our discussion today, it’s that addressing the root cause of the problem will always be more effective than masking or eliminating symptoms alone.

By following these tips and tricks for getting rid of a musty smell in a basement, not only should you eliminate pesky smells but also improve indoor air quality, which can lead to better health throughout your whole family! What steps have been taken so far?

Check out our articles for the best air purifiers for basements before contacting an air purification specialist if these solutions don’t work for you. And remember, we also want to hear what has worked for you!

For more advice on how to get rid of musty smell in basement? Check out this article! What other tips do you have for eliminating musty odors? Please share them with us by commenting below! As always, happy cleaning!

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