5 Ways To Get Rid Of Musty Basement Smell

A musty smell in the basement can be more than just an annoyance—it can also indicate the presence of mold or mildew, posing potential health risks. Thus, eliminating this smell is not only important for the overall freshness of your home, but also for the health of those living in it.

If you’ve been dealing with musty smells in your basement, you’re not alone. Basements are notorious for being breeding grounds for all sorts of smells, including mustiness. Luckily, there are several things you can do to get rid of those pesky odors and make your basement smell fresh again. Keep reading to learn five easy ways to get rid of musty smells in your basement!

5 Ways To Get Rid Of Musty Basement Smell
5 Ways To Get Rid Of Musty Basement Smell

What Causes The Basement Smells Musty?

Before we get into the solution, let’s first understand the causes. Several factors cause musty basements.

High Humidity Levels

Large amounts of humidity in the air will lead to an environment in which the basement walls, floors, and even other surfaces are more sensitive and conducive to mold growth. The large concentration – of warm air will build up quite fast in the basement. The warm and moist air that collects in a basement can cause condensation, which will lead to the spread and build-up of bacteria and mold.

Poor Ventilation

Poor ventilation is the leading cause of musty smells in basements. If you have a basement without proper airflow, it’s likely that these stale odors will be trapped inside and quickly accumulate to create an annoying environment for all who visit or live there!

Leaky Pipes Or Flooding

Water damage is a common cause of musty smells in basements. Even small leaks can lead to big problems if left unaddressed. When water touches surfaces or concrete that is below ground level, condensation can form, and the moisture that is produced can lead to the growth of mold and mildew.

This can cause musty smells in your basement or crawl space. If you have a water leak or flooding, it is important to dry out the area as soon as possible to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.


Dampness can also lead to musty odors because it provides a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew growth. If you have foul odors in your basement, the musty odor is likely caused by mold and mildew. A moldy basement can not only cause unpleasant smells but can also lead to health issues such as asthma attacks.

Mold Spores

One of the most common causes of musty smell is mold and mildew. These organisms thrive in moist, warm places like basements and can produce unpleasant odors that are impossible to ignore.  If you suspect that mold is the source of your musty smell, it’s important to take action right away. Mold spores can cause serious health problems and should be removed as soon as possible.

Wall Cracks

Another common cause of the musty smell in basements is wall cracks. When water leaks through these cracks, it can seep into the insulation and drywall, leading to the growth of mold and mildew.

How To Get Rid Of Basement Musty Smells

Some people put off getting rid of the musty basement smell in their homes for years, but they should consider contacting a professional. The only way to make sure that you get all sources and odors out is by making some significant changes- like removing any mold or mildew from surfaces, putting down dehumidifiers along with cat litter (or baking soda) so it can absorb moisture before releasing disinfectant molecules into our air conditioner’s ventilation system during summer months when things tend to be hottest!

1. Cleaning Up Mold And Mildew

If you are dealing with mold or mildew in your basement, the first step is to clean it up. This should be done as soon as possible since the presence of mold and mildew can lead to a musty smell that can be difficult to get rid of.

To clean up mold and mildew, start by wearing protective gear such as gloves and a mask. You should also put down some plastic sheeting on the floor to protect against spills. Next, use a sponge or cloth soaked in warm water to scrub the affected area gently.

Be sure to avoid using any harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning products, which can cause damage and make the problem worse. Once the mold and mildew have been removed, dry out the area thoroughly to prevent the problem from coming back.

If you don’t have a lot of severe molds or water damage, these methods can work. If there are pretty bitemarks on your property, call a professional mold remediation company to take care of it instead!

2. Ventilate Your Basement

If your basement feels damp, dirty, or just plain unpleasant, it’s time to take action! Proper ventilation is key to keeping your basement dry and comfortable. One of the best ways to get rid musty smell in your basement is to ventilate it properly. This will help to remove the stale, musty air that can lead to odors.

There are two main ways to ventilate your basement: natural ventilation and mechanical ventilation. Natural ventilation relies on opening the basement windows and doors to circulate air, while mechanical ventilation uses fans and other devices to push air through the space.

baking soda for musty smell

3. Use Baking Soda

Another simple way to get rid of the smell is to use baking soda. This natural substance has long been used for its deodorizing properties, and it can be very effective against the types of odors that are common in basements.

To use baking soda to remove the musty smell, simply sprinkle a generous amount across the affected areas. Let it sit for several hours or even overnight, then sweep up or vacuum any excess powder. You can also use baking soda as an air freshener by placing bowls of it around your basement.

4. Use Vinegar

Vinegar is a versatile substance that can be used to clean, treat minor wounds, and even get rid of unpleasant smells. If you are experiencing musty odors in your basement, one easy way to eliminate them is by using vinegar.

To use vinegar for this purpose, fill a bowl with the liquid and set it in the area that is affected by the musty smell. The vinegar will help to absorb and neutralize the odors, allowing them to dissipate over time. You can also repeat this process as needed until all of the odors have been eliminated.

5. Lower The Basement Humidity Level

The ideal basement humidity level is between 30 and 50 percent. Anything above 60 percent is too high and creates the perfect environment for mold, mildew, and dust mites to thrive. To achieve and maintain these levels, you need a quality dehumidifier or air conditioner.

One of the best ways to lower excess humidity levels is to use a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air and can be connected directly to your air duct system or plugged in separately.

There are several different types of dehumidifiers available, including ones designed specifically for basements. This makes them ideal for controlling not only the humidity level but also keeping warm air in your basement.

If you prefer an air conditioner over a dehumidifier, there are also options available for cooling and humidity control. These devices can be installed on your HVAC system as part of the ductwork or used with specialized thermostats to maintain ideal levels.

The Journey of a Musty Basement to a Fresh-Smelling Space
The Journey of a Musty Basement to a Fresh-Smelling Space

How Do Prevent A Musty Smell In Basements?

Basements are notorious for their musty smell. This is because they are often dark and moist, which creates a perfect environment for mildew and mold growth. If you want to prevent your basement from having a musty smell, there are several things that you can do:

  1. Install proper ventilation: The best way to stop musty basement smells from happening in the first place is to ensure that your basement has proper ventilation. This will help to circulate air and keep moisture levels down.
  2. Use a dehumidifier: Another way to fight musty basement smells is to use a dehumidifier in your basement. This will help to remove excess moisture from the air, which will, in turn, help to prevent mold growth.
  3. Clean regularly: Even if you take steps to prevent musty smells, they can still happen from time to time. In these cases, it is important to clean the affected area immediately to prevent the smell from spreading. Use a mixture of bleach and water to kill mold and bacteria, and be sure to dry the area entirely afterward.
  4. Store belongings correctly: If you have any belongings that are susceptible to smell (such as clothing or books), be sure to store them in airtight containers. This will help to keep the smell from seeping into them.
  5. Keeping the moister level low: You might also think about running a fan or opening a window when showering to help keep the humidity low.
  6. Use vinegar and baking soda: If you do find yourself in a basement that smells musty, some natural remedies can help to get rid of the smell. One of the most effective is a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. Simply sprinkle the powder on any surfaces or items in your basement that have been affected by mold or mildew, let it sit for 10-20 minutes, and then wipe it clean.
  7. Repair basement walls: If your basement has cracks in the walls, these should be repaired as soon as possible. Not only can they let in water, but they can also allow musty air to seep in from the outside.
  8. Check for leaks: Water leaks are one of the most common causes of smelling basements. Be sure to check all pipes and fixtures regularly for any signs of leaks and repair them immediately if you find any.
  9. Inspect gutters and downspouts: Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause water to pool around your foundation, which can lead to basement flooding and musty odors. Be sure to inspect these regularly and clean them out as needed.
  10. Use a moisture barrier: If you have a basement that is particularly prone to moisture, you might want to consider using a moisture barrier. This will help to keep water from seeping into your basement and can even help to reduce the amount of humidity in the air.


Following these tips can help you to keep your basement free from musty smells. With a bit of time and effort, you’ll be able to enjoy your basement again in no time!

Get Professional Help

If you have tried all of the above methods and you are still dealing with a musty smell in your basement, it may be time to get professional help. Some companies specialize in cleaning and deodorizing basements, and they can be a great option if your problem is severe.

professional mold removal company can assess the severity of your basement odors and use specialized techniques to remove them. They may use special cleaning products or equipment to scrub away dirt and stains, as well as specialized deodorizing agents.

It’s also important to take steps to prevent the growth of mildew spores and mold in your basements, such as by improving ventilation and humidity levels. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your basement remains clean, dry, and fresh-smelling for years to come!

Basement Musty Odor Prevention Tips

  1. One of the easiest ways to reduce the musty odor from the basement is to open the windows and let fresh air in. Remember to close them before you go to bed if it’s a cold night outside.
  2. Avoid using a wet-dry vacuum to clean up the water. They are designed for picking up dry stuff, not water. Use an ordinary household mop and bucket instead.
  3. When it is hot, cold, or raining, ensure you don’t open any windows because this will invite moisture that can lead to mold growth and rot.


To prevent a basement from smelling musty, it is important to install proper ventilation and use dehumidifiers. You should also clean regularly and store belongings properly to avoid moisture buildup. If you are still experiencing a musty smell, consider getting professional help from a mold remediation company. With their expert techniques and specialized products, they can help to remove the odors for good.

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