Whether new or old, all homes have unique odors and smells that reflect the nature of the home and those who live in it. Environmental factors such as heavy rains or seasonal changes can also play a role in the odor of a home.
What’s most important is to distinguish between moldy and musty smells. While both are similar in nature (mold and mildew are both fungi and grow in the presence of moisture or water), mildew is a powdery surface often found on plants; mold is thicker and can cause structural damage because it penetrates deeper into the material it is growing on. Black molds are commonly associated with health problems and may require professional mold remediation.
The Nose Knows
The primary difference between moldy and musty odors is in the strength of the smell. Musty odors are usually not as strong as moldy odors. Since both moldy and musty odors suggest mold growth, it’s important to take action quickly when you notice an odor to prevent extensive damage to your home. A lingering musty odor can penetrate non-moldy materials in your home and prolong the unpleasant odor experience.
Common Sources of Musty Smells
- Outside the House: Water leaks, roof leaks especially around the chimney. Inspect basement walls for seepage and exterior walls for signs of water damage.
- Inside the House: Plumbing leaks. Check your air conditioning units or heating units with drain lines regularly.
- Laundry Drains and Front Load Washers: Many front load washers retain a little water at the base of the unit. Over time, this water grows bacteria, leading to musty smells in your laundry area.
- Windows: Windows can be a problem in a couple of different ways. First, a cold window in a warm room is a magnet for condensation, which can lead to mold or mildew growth on the inside of the window. Second, if not probably installed, water can leak inside the window flashing and get inside the walls of the house.
4 Do It Yourself Solutions for Eliminating Musty Smells
Here are four tried and true tips from Do-It-Yourself (https://www.doityourself.com).
Cleaning is the best method for getting rid of the mildew smells. Locate the area where the mildew smell originates. You need to throw out any old papers and cardboard that are there. These can hold mildew spores and will keep the smell in the air. You should also throw out or carefully wash any fabric in the area and get rid of any old upholstered furniture that’s there. Once you’ve eliminated these things, wash the entire area with a solution of bleach and water, and then leave it to dry. If possible, open a window close by to give ventilation to the area. This will help in getting rid of the mildew smell.
Using odor absorbers is a good way of getting rid of the mildew smell. You can buy all kinds of sprays and items that promise to eliminate odors, but there are simple, cheap ways to do this. Take some charcoal briquettes and put them in old empty coffee cans. Distribute these around the area affected by mildew smells. These will take away the odor by sucking it in. It will also absorb moisture in the air, which can make mildew. Be aware that you’ll need to replace these once a month in order for them to remain effective.
Baking soda is one of the best things you can use for getting rid of mildew smell. It’s renowned as an odor eliminator, and it will do an excellent job on mildew smell. Simply open a box and leave it in the area to take away the smell of mildew. It will need to be replaced every couple of months. Also very efficient as an odor absorber is cat litter. Lay out a tray of cat litter in the area and it will take away the mildew smell. It will only last well for 2 weeks before needing to be replaced.
Keeping the Smell Away
After getting rid of the mildew smell, you need to be able to keep it away. Repeated thorough cleanings of the area is something that’s vital to making sure that no mildew returns. Keep giving good ventilation to the area. Fresh air is a big enemy of mildew and mold. Whenever the weather allows, have a window open in the area.
Keeping a working dehumidifier in the area is an excellent way to keep the mildew smell away. It will remove the moisture that can cause mildew from the air. Having this running, especially in damper weather, will keep mildew away. Similarly, an ionizer is a very effective tool for keeping mildew away. It takes the damp ions from the air and keeps it smelling fresh.