How to Get Rid of Old House Smell (16 Easy Ways)

Dealing with Stubborn Musty Odors in Your Home? Our professional cleaning services can tackle even the toughest odors. These 9 tips can also help you out!

Understanding Musty Smells

Musty odors can be challenging to eliminate, and they’re not just unpleasant; breathing them in is also not good for your health. Various factors can cause a musty-smelling home, ranging from mild issues like stale air in a closed-up older home to more serious problems such as mold in the walls. Mold or mildew in the walls is a severe cause of musty smells, and if regular cleaning methods fail, it may be the root cause.

Tips to Remove Old House Smells

Identify the Culprit

Getting rid of that old house smell starts with pinpointing its source. It’s more effective to eliminate the root cause than merely masking the odor. However, this can be a bit challenging at times.

There are five common reasons for old house smells, with mold and mildew being the most prevalent issues. To track down the source:

  1. Use Your Senses: Employ your senses to investigate your home thoroughly. Follow your nose, especially if the smell seems localized to a specific area, such as a room where a previous pet might have left its mark.
  2. Visual Inspection: Examine your basement, crawl space, and attic for leaks and mold. Check under sinks, around faucets, and along piping for any signs of leaks. If you find an issue, address it promptly.
  3. Consider Professional Help: If you can’t locate the source, consider reaching out to a professional. For a mildewy smell, consult a plumber to inspect old pipes for water leaks.

1. Let the Sunshine In

Channel the wisdom of your grandma and mom by embracing the idea of letting the sunshine in. Opening windows and curtains on a nice spring day not only circulates fresh air but also helps eliminate stale odors.

  1. Encourage Airflow: Open all windows and doors with screens to encourage airflow, especially in the nooks and crannies of old houses. Turn on fans to create cross breezes or reach the darker corners.
  2. Harness the Power of Sunshine: Sunlight serves as a natural disinfectant with its UV light and provides dry heat to combat old house smells. It’s not just about freshening the air; it’s about letting the sun work its magic.

2. Open Windows & Doors

Increase ventilation by opening as many windows and doors as possible. Fresh air helps disperse musty odors caused by dust and poor ventilation.

3. Use Ventilation Fans & Electric Fans

Turn on ventilation fans and use electric fans to enhance airflow in areas without windows or fans.

4. Boil Lemon Peels

Boil water on the stove, add lemon peels, and let the steam fill the room. This natural air freshener can be bottled up and used later.

5. Deep Clean & Remove Dust

Dust buildup contributes to musty smells. Clean thoroughly, paying attention to corners and hidden areas. Use a damp cloth and a feather duster, vacuum carpets, and mop hard floors.

6. Wash the Walls

Imagine if walls could talk—they’d probably start with clearing out dust mites. While we often remember to clean counters and floors, walls deserve attention too. Give them a wipe-down with a damp sponge.

If you have textured wallpaper, like grasscloth, a gentle cleaning with a damp (not wet) sponge can remove years of dirt. Just be cautious and test in an inconspicuous area to ensure your wallpaper can handle it.

7. Wash the Curtains

Curtains may seem like a set-it-and-forget-it item, but they benefit from periodic cleaning too. Take them down and send them to the dry cleaners to bring a breath of spring freshness to your home.

8. Clear off the Basement Floor

Basements often harbor musty odors and mold, especially if you have a cement floor wicking moisture into your home. Elevate items onto shelves whenever possible to allow moisture to escape. Check under rugs to prevent mold growth.

9. Add Charcoal Bags

Activated charcoal is great for absorbing subtle old house smells. Place charcoal bags in closets and basement rooms. Every few months, expose them to the sun to reactivate the charcoal for continued effectiveness.”

10. Paint the Walls

Choose the right paint to counteract decades of smoke damage. For persistent smells, consider using an oil-based Kilz primer/sealer. Don’t overlook painting the ceilings for comprehensive freshness.

11. Modernize with Neutral Colors

Opt for neutral paint colors for a modern touch that complements the overall aesthetic.

12. Remove the Carpet

Carpets and their pads trap odors and grime. Removing them, especially in basements, can instantly eliminate years of unpleasant smells. Consider hardwood or cork flooring for easier maintenance.

13. Reupholster Vintage Furniture

Vintage furniture can carry its own set of aged smells. Revitalize it with a fresh reupholstering to ensure it lasts for years to come.

14. Fix Leaks

Mold often thrives in damp environments caused by leaks. Check pipes, bathrooms, floors, and ceilings for potential leaks. Addressing the source of mold is crucial in eliminating persistent odors.

15. Retile the Bathtub

Ensure your bathtub or shower is free from mold by checking the condition of the tiles. If the tiles are compromised, consider a makeover to refresh the walls and tiles.

16. Professional Mold Removal

If you’re dealing with a serious mold issue and can’t identify the source, consider professional mold removal. Mold may be hidden in walls or caused by leaks in the roof, and expert help can ensure a healthy and clean home.”

Final Thoughts

Remember, these tips, combined with our professional cleaning services, can help you eliminate those stubborn musty odors from your home.

Leave a Comment