How to get rid of musty smell in basement

By | July 7, 2016

Remove musty smell from basement

Basements are one of the places in your house that can develop bad odor. The bad odor can rise out of many things including mold growth, dirt, and other air borne spores. The main reason behind this is the trapped moisture created by poor ventilation.

Basements are often closed places that have little or no ventilation at all. Over time, moisture starts getting trapped in there and starts producing the musty smell. If there is a damp or water leakage in any of the walls, the situation gets only worse.

If you are serious about keeping your house clean, then take care of these bad odors as well. Bad odors anywhere are a sign of decay and negative energy. They are bad for health.

Cleaning up the musty basement will take some work, but is easy if you are determined. Few household things can help do a wonderful job.

1. Check damp and water problems

The first thing is to ensure that there are no damp problems. Damp can rise out of leaking water pipes or accumulating rain water due to poor construction. Moisture may even seep through the foundation of the building which can be difficult to detect.

If there are any signs of water or damp coming in the area from anywhere, that is the first thing you need to fix. Damp often appears as dark patches on the walls that are painted white.

Do a thorough inspection of the walls, floor and the ceiling. If the level of damp appears quite serious then it is best advised to seek professional help.

Make the entire area as much waterproof as you can. The longer it stays dry, the lesser will be the odor.

2. Check for mold and mildew

A major cause of bad odor in closed places is the growth of mold or mildew. These micro organisms grow where ever there is moisture or damp and lack of ventilation and sunlight.

Removing mold is an easy task. All you need to do is clean the moldy area with bleach or borax mixed water. Even laundry detergent can do the job.

3. Clean the whole place

For best results clean the whole place. This will get rid of whatever has built up over time and also give a better idea of what to do next.

Use suitable cleaning material for the walls, floor, ceilings and other structures. Detergent, vinegar, baking soda are some common household things that can be used for cleaning.

4. Ventilate

Adequate ventilation is the key to eliminate odor and make the place better. If there are any windows, open them right away.

The old stale air needs to be replaced with fresh air. This will reduce the moisture in the air and also the odor. You can use a portable fan or something similar to force some circulation in the whole place.
A vacuum blower or a leaf blower can be useful to circulate the air in the corners and edges. Try what ever you have.

5. Deodorize with vinegar

Vinegar helps fight bad odors. Placing a bowl full of vinegar in your basement can do the trick to keep musty smell out.

It will work only for a few weeks, after which it has to be replaced with fresh vinegar. It is quite cheap but effective.

Sprinkle baking soda

Similar to vinegar, even baking soda can help reduce smell in the air. Sprinkle plenty of baking soda in the corners and edges of the entire room. It will help absorb the bad smell.

Plain baking soda in your kitchen should do the job. Otherwise you can get some commercial baking soda based odor removal product, like this –

Place an opened container of baking soda in the basement, as baking soda will absorb the unpleasant odors for up to three months.

Arm & Hammer Fridge-N-Freezer Baking Soda, Odor Absorber –

Commercial deodorizer products

There are plenty of odor removal products available in the market that can help fight bad odors in the basement. They typically come in small pouches that you just need to place in the smelly area and it will automatically absorb the odor causing gases from the environment, and optionally give out some good odor as well.

Here are a few such deodorizers that you can buy on amazon.

1. SMELLEZE Reusable Deodorizer Pouch –
2. Gonzo Corporation Basement Odoreliminator –

There are lots more similar products available on amazon. Search and find a suitable one.


After getting rid of the odors once, make sure it does not appear again for atleast a long time. This will need regular maintenance even if in small quantities.

1. Cleanup the place regularly, like once a month or 2.

2. Keep humidity under control. Ventilate the place once in a few weeks to move out the clogged air and get fresh air in. You could also use a dehumidifier to dry out the air moisture completely.

3. Keep a check on water leakage and damp. Leakage problems should be fixed at the very first sight to avoid damp spreading deep across the walls and structures.

Extra tips

Similar to baking soda, charcoal can also absorb bad odor. Place some charcoal bricks in a container and put it in the basement. However, make sure to use “plain” barbecue charcoal and not the “easy light” charcoal that contains lighter fluid in them.

If you like the smell of olives, then dust the basement area with olive leaf powder. Not only will it eliminate the musty smell, it will also keep any mold from forming.

Let us know if you know of any other method to fight odors in the basement. For any further queries or suggestions please use the comment box below. Thanks for reading.

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