5 Easy Steps On How To Get Rid Of Mildew Smell In Old House

If you want to learn how to get rid of mildew smell in old house, you have to be ready to investigate where the musty smell is coming from, deep clean the space, and let the fresh air in. Arm yourself with a strong stomach, a face mask, and a whole lot of patience and determination because things are going to get dirty.


how to get rid of mildew smell in old house

What Causes The Musty Smell?

Take note that the musty smell you inhale isn’t magic that just comes out of nowhere. Somewhere in your house, mildew is forming, and you have to know how to identify what it is.

Mildew usually takes the form of a thin black or white growth. It is somehow similar to the awful smell of wood rot.

It is also often interchangeable with what we know as molds. If you want to have more knowledge about molds, check out this guide discussing “how does water mold reproduce.”

Mildew thrives in conditions where there is plenty of moisture and lack of air ventilation. If your old house is starting to have a displeasing smell like rotten wood, it is high time you check the hidden surfaces that may allow mold and mildew to grow.


Getting Rid Of Mildew Smell In Old House

Mildew doesn’t just affect your old house; it also can cause troubles for your health and the people around you. Respiratory health problems can start or worsen the longer you inhale that musty mildew smell.

Is your house dark, humid, and leaks are present anywhere? Better check and treat it as soon as you have discovered it to prevent the mildew infestation from getting worse.


Step #1. Locate the source and open up

Check your old house for mildew growth. You can take an in-depth search in your bathroom and kitchen where water leaks are most likely to happen.

Take a look at the garage, basement, or attic because those places usually don’t get as much light as the other parts of the house. Dark spots, especially those that don’t usually get enough visitors, are ideal for mold growth.

If you’ve checked these places, you also might want to double-check other areas like the living room and the bedroom for possible mold breeding space. Even a wet towel left under couches and beds can attract these fungi causing the musty smell to spread around the house.

Once you’ve secured the source of mold and mildew smell, open up the windows and doors for the musty air to go away and the fresh air to take its place. If the scent is too strong, then bring the aid of electric fans and put them to work.


Step #2. Let it dry

Opening the doors and windows and turning the electric fan on are the first steps to dry the whole place. Sunlight does not only help remove moisture; it also is a good disinfectant.

Besides an electric fan, it is also good to bring in a dehumidifier to ensure that the moisture is removed from the air flowing into the room.

It doesn’t stop there, though. 

You have to make sure that if there are any leaky faucets and pipes in the room, you get to fix them. Only when the leaking is fixed, and the water isn’t going to allow mold growth will you get to ensure that your cleaning, which is the next step, will not be in vain.


Step #3. Deep clean the source 

Once everything’s dry (from the wall down to the floors and even inside cabinets), you can start deep cleaning other things in the room to which the smell might have attached itself.

If your furniture and fixtures are wooden, you may want to check out this guide on how to stop mildew on water damaged wood. If your furniture is of the softer material, however, like couches and upholsteries, you may want to get them professionally deep-cleaned.

The musty smell may very well come from these soft surfaces that have absorbed moisture throughout the ages. However, even hard surfaces would still need to be checked and cleaned with a disinfectant as much as possible.

Take the time to also sweep away the dust and deep clean air conditioner or any filtering system. The smell might also be coming from these units, so make sure to give it a good clean.

Don’t forget to declutter cabinets to check if there is any leak on the pipes under. You can also bring any carpet to a professional dry cleaner or wash the walls of your old house thoroughly before letting it dry completely.


Step #4. Get some natural air freshener

A great, refreshing hack you can use to get rid of the mildew smell is to make a pot of boiling water with lemon peels. Once you start smelling the lovely citrus scent, turn the fire off and carefully settle the pot to the area where the musty smell is the strongest.

Leave the pot open and just let the scent cover every area of the room. You can also have an electric fan near the pot to get better air circulation. 

Other natural air fresheners you can use include distilled white vinegar. Have a spray bottle at hand and fill it up with either the lemon boiled water or the vinegar and get spraying.


Step #5. Bring in an air neutralizer

The leaks are fixed, the place is dry, and the scent is gradually changing. All that is left is to keep the air flowing.

It would help to get an air neutralizer, purifier, or absorber. Some purifiers are specially made to get rid of the musty smell hanging in the air.

Other things you can use to neutralize the air in the area are activated charcoal and baking soda. These absorb the smell in the room and have to be replaced every two weeks or so. 

If the room has good ventilation spots, keep it open from time to time. Otherwise, remember to turn on electric fans, air conditioning units, or dehumidifiers to keep the place from getting too humid.    



Some people just know how to keep their house smelling good. If that isn’t you, that’s totally fine, too.

It’s better late than never. Besides, we’re talking about an old house here. 

Now that you know how to get rid of mildew smell in old house, it’s time for a huge mildew removal project. Get going, open the windows and let the fresh air in!

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