Why Does My House Smell Like Mildew (Plus Easy Removal Tips)

The most practical answer to the question “why does my house smell like mildew” is, of course, there is a presence of mildew. Whenever there is mildew, microbial volatile organic compounds are also present.

We will dig deeper into what mildew is and its connection to microbial volatile organic compounds. Moreover, you should also learn how to identify a mildew smell and what will happen if you accidentally inhale it.

why does my house smell like mildew

Lastly, you will get a helpful guide on how to remove the disgusting musty smell in your house as well as the materials you need. Now, get ready!


All About Mildew

One major cause of a musty smell in a house is the presence of mildew. Nevertheless, it is not limited to that; it can also be because of poor ventilation, spilled drinks, or cigarette smoke.

We will focus on the major one — mildew presence for this post. It is relevant to talk about it since many homeowners tend to forget, and some just really don’t know it. 

So that you know, mildew is different from mold, but they both need moisture and humidity to grow. If your house is always damp and has a high moisture level, it is prone to mildew and mold. 

Mildew can infest every area of your house, even in bathrooms. That’s why some homeowners often ask, “why does my bathroom smell like mildew?” 

Even in basements, mildew could grow. Check this article if you are struggling with how to get mildew smell out of the basement. 

To end everything at once, we will tell you why mildew causes such a musty smell. 


Microbial volatile organic compounds

MVOCs or microbial volatile organic compounds are formed through the metabolism of certain organisms like mold and mildew. It consists of more than 200 compounds.

MVOCs are the compounds that cause mildew to smell distinct. When the mildew continuously grows, the smell production also continues. 


How Do I Distinguish A Mildew Smell?

Unlike typical house fragrances, mildewed infested houses are not pleasing. Mildew causes a strong smell which often resembles the smell of rotting wood or wet socks.

The fragrance of mildew is distinguishable because of dampness, mustiness, and pungent odor. Take note of those descriptions so that you can identify if your house has mildew problems.  

If you, unfortunately, smell a musty odor in your house, immediately check for visible leaks. You should also check if there is discoloration of water.


What Happens If I Smell Mildew?

Microbial volatile organic compounds are what cause mildew to become dangerous to health when inhaled. Some short-term indicators that you have been exposed to mildew are as follows:

  • Dizziness
  • Nasal irritation
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Skin irritation

If you have any respiratory diseases or have allergies, you should be careful and more aware of mildew!


Materials Needed In Removing Musty Smell

  1. Cleaning solution
  2. Facemask and hand gloves
  3. Brush or old toothbrush
  4. Rags
  5. Warm water
  6. Sanitizing agent


How Do I Remove The Musty Smell?

Here are four easy steps in removing the smell of mildew. Take note that all the steps are applicable whether the mildew is visible. 


Step #1. Locate the source

Mildew needs moisture to grow; hence check areas in your house that are always wet. It is advisable to inspect the whole place to prevent leaving traces of mildew. 


Step #2. Preparation

This step is divided into two categories. The first is to prepare yourself, while the second is to prepare the materials needed.

Preparing yourself means wearing safety protection gear like hand gloves and a facemask. Remember, do not make any close contact with the mildew. 

For the materials, prepare a cleaning solution and a brush; even an old toothbrush will do. The cleaning solution is a mixture of warm water and bleach. 


Step #3. Applying and scrubbing

Using the brush, apply the mixture to the mildewed infected area. Then, scrub it vigorously to ensure that all mildew will be removed.  


Step #4. Sanitize and dry

After removing the mildew, you should wash the area with water. Also, apply sanitizers to avoid further health issues, especially if you have a child inside the house. 

One last thing you gotta do is make sure that you will dry the area using rags. Keep every area dry as much as possible to prevent another mildew growth. 



You’ve learned about microbial volatile organic compounds and how it is connected to mildew. You also learned how mildew smell in a house and how it would affect your health if you inhale it. 

You have no time to spare thinking about the question “why does my house smell like mildew” anymore. Instead, start taking action and remove that mildew smell as soon as you can.

We spent so much time in our house; it is their haven for some. Do not let it get infested by mildew and suffer from that unpleasant odor. 

Prioritize the health of your family as well as yours!

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