People search for “how to get rid of musty smell in basement.” Here’s a guide for you.

Most people get creative with the basement and use it as a laundry room or wine cellar for relaxation or seasonal comfort. Basements add convenience to your daily living with additional storage space for everyday family activities.

Looking for musty basement solutions? No matter what you do with your basement, musty odors caused by mildew and mold can make the space unbearable. Furthermore, surface mold nasty odor can affect your documents, clothes, furniture and more.

Do you know that odors can affect the air circulation quality in the entire house if ignored? Do you want to get rid of musty smell in your home for a healthy life?

Getting rid of the odor makes the space a convenient shelter and improves your quality of life. Many people struggle to find the odor source and eradicate it for lack of knowledge. But that’s why you need to learn the smell removal steps.

These steps will remove mold and keep your basement odor-free while increasing your investment value. But before we discuss the musty odor removal steps, let’s define a basement and unpleasant odor causes. 

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How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Basement 1

Causes of Musty Smells in Basement

Mold and mildew are common causes of musty basement smell, and they can cause different health challenges. Most people use the term interchangeably, but there are apparent differences. While both are fungi, mildew is flat and colorful, and black mold is thicker.

These fungi can cause nasal irritation, headaches or nausea if ignored. We will discuss mold spores and mildew more in-depth to improve your knowledge.

1.      Mold Spores

Molds are microscopic fungi living everywhere oxygen, moisture and food are present. These fungi multiply by reproducing tiny spores that can float through the air.

Mold spores are similar to mushrooms and yeasts. The spores are multicellular organisms floating through indoor and outdoor air.

They germinate and flourish in environments with a steady source of moisture. Most mold infestations start from the release of spores. Furthermore, through chemical reactions, mold spores devour nutrients for reproduction at the growth stage.

These reactions create toxic chlorine fumes released into the air, causing musty smells. The smell can contaminate the airways and cause respiratory infections detrimental to your health.

2.      Mildew

Mildew is an early-stage mold in fungus form floating through the air as tiny spores. These spores grow and reproduce in moist and wet environments.

Unlike mold, when the mildew spores land on a material, it grows into it. While mold penetrates surfaces, mildew grows on the surface.

Mildew is easy to identify and remove in the early stages because it grows on top of the material. This fungus is either downy in yellow splotches or powdery in gray or white.

The powdery mildew changes color over time and turns yellow and black. Mildew can form and bring the musty mold smell into your home in 24 hours under the right conditions.

Other Basement Musty Smell Contributors

Dirty basement, animal waste, sewage, leeks, and dampness contribute to the unpleasant odors. Let’s discuss each more in-depth.

3.      Dirty Musty Basement

A dirty basement contributes to the musty smell in your home. If you have pets or kids playing in your finished basement, consider checking the space for faeces or urine. It will be best to adopt regular cleaning for your basement to avoid the smell.

4.      Animal Waste

Rodents can create dirt in your basement from eating virtually anything to cause mold infestations and an unpleasant smell. These animals eat grains seeds and drop dark particles contributing to the odor. Pack the dirt into plastic trash bags to prevent stubborn mold from forming.

5.      Sewage

A home sewage line usually runs through the garage, crawl space and basement. Sewage lines can have different problems as they comprise pipes that can leak.

Consider checking the pipes for liquid sewage spills if you perceive the musty smell. These spills emit awful odors that can affect the air in your home.

6.      Damp Materials

Putting damaged porous organic materials in damp basements can lead to unpleasant musty smells. Fiberglass and drywall can smell musty in your basement when wet.

Furthermore, plastic sheets, mastic asphalt, copper and Rockwool insulation are damp materials that cause stagnant air. This air takes the smell to upper levels without direct sunlight.

Now that you know the causes of the musty odor in your basement air, we’ll discuss how to get rid of it.

How to get rid of Musty Smell in Basement

Checking for the smell foundation, pipe leaks, and wet areas is ideal for identifying the problem. There are various ways to get rid of the musty smell in your basement temporarily and permanently. We will dive into it below.

1.      Check the Foundation

Your first step to eradicating the foul odors in your basement is to check the foundation wall. Consider checking the foundation and concrete walls for damage to clogged rain gutters or cold water pipes. Suppose the water temperature differs from the heat on the outside, the pipe sweats.

These sweats can drip on your basement’s floor and form mildew or mold with embarrassing odors. The drips can build-up stains and change the color of the surface if left for a period.

If the wall waterproofing or sealing does not align, water spills allow the spores to flourish and reproduce. That’s why you need to check your basement foundation to find the problem. If pipes are the problem, consider hiring a waterproofing and mold remediation professional for your basement walls.

2.      Check for Pipe Leaks

After checking the foundation for the problem, consider turning your attention to pipe leaks. Keep in mind that pipes run through the ceilings and walls, so watch out for exposed tubes.

Consider differentiating between sewer gas and musty smells. While sewer gas smells like sewage, humidity and dampness cause mold and mildew growth leading to a musty smell.

Wall cracks can lead to leaking pipes and moisture buildup to damage the basement floor or ceiling. Check for pipe leaks and water damage signs before fixing the problem to eradicate the smell.

3.      Search for Seasonally Wet Areas

If the problem persists, conduct an extensive wet area search on the basement walls and floors. Water leaks can quickly form wet areas, and finding it improves your chances of getting rid of the smell. Focus on the drainpipes or downspouts outside the building.

Another ideal location that requires focus is the air conditioning ducts for sweats. There will be sweats if the unit’s connection is faulty or air-conditioning works for long hours.

These sweats can break cement walls, form wet areas, and allow mildew for mold to flourish. Consider checking the basement for water leaks regularly, especially during flooding seasons.

4.      Use Vinegar to Eliminate Mold

The extensive search for wet areas will reveal leaks, and it’s time to eradicate the musty smell from your basement. If you find mold or mildew, white vinegar is ideal for cleaning and removing these fungi from the basement. It’s a wonderful musty smell remover and musty basement odor eliminator.

Furthermore, this vinegar is efficient and can prevent mold growth from any spot in your home. If you purchase undiluted vinegar, it can eradicate 80% of mold spores and eliminate other fungi.

Consider buying two cups of white vinegar and a damp cloth for the mold or mildew removal process. Start the process by bringing in a functioning fan or opening the window for increased fresh air.

Now pour the white vinegar into the spray bottle. Spray the mold or mildew areas and let the vinegar dry off before washing with hot water and clean with a damp cloth.

5.      Develop the Borax Solution

The borax solution is similar to a powerful soda that can eliminate musty smells in your basement. If you find molds and mildew on cement walls, this solution will eliminate the fungi and the unpleasant odor.

Cracks on cement walls can allow moisture, and the Borax powder is your solution. It would be best if you got rid of the fungus and smell.

Consider boiling the water and introduce the wall cleaner before turning it into the spray bottle. It’s time to spay the fungus affected areas thoroughly and let them dry off for five minutes.

Turn on the fan to aid the dryness. Wait until the next day before sweeping the dried Borax off the ground. Now you can rinse the surface with water and ensure a clean surface.

6.      Remove Problem Causers

Another excellent way to eradicate the entire basement smell is to remove items contributing to the odor. Many things like wet woods, clothes, carpets and furniture can add to the problem.

Consider removing these problem causers and moving them to another location. Leaving these items in your basement will help fungus flourish and contaminate the air ducts and circulation.

Cloth materials absorb moisture, unlike cement hold items on the surface. The fungus can grow comfortably in clothes and until you eradicate the smell, keep them out of the basement.

7.      Replace the Drywall

If you leave water leaks or damp in your basement unchecked, mold and mildew can reproduce extensively. If you find extended mold growth, consider replacing the drywall.

Ensure you locate smaller affected areas as an alternative to replacing the entire wall. Consider getting protective gear like gloves and masks before starting the mold removal process.

Wear a mask and gloves to prevent the spores from affecting your respiratory organs. You’re vulnerable to allergic skin reactions if you fail to wear gloves or masks when removing these fungi. 

8.      Seal Off the Crawl Space

If your basement has crawl spaces, it’s time to seal because they contribute to the unpleasant smell. Crawl spaces are small holes in your basement walls.

These holes can contain dirt or rodents, faeces and urine, contributing to the musty odor. While sealing the spaces is an option, you can also waterproof the area to prevent moisture from forming.

The size of the crawl space is essential and if it is a large or deep hole, consider the sealing option. You don’t have to restrict access to the crawl spaces, and you can cover with any material to prevent the smell.

9.      Introduce Vinegar to Clean the Air

After removing mold and mildew from your basement, your next step is introducing vinegar to the air. You can eliminate odors and soak up unpleasant smells with vinegar.

Visit the nearest store for your bottle of white vinegar and bowls to eradicate the unpleasant smell. Now spread the vinegar cleaner in a few bowls evenly and place it in separate locations in the basement.

The vinegar creates organisms eradicating the musty smell with fresh and healthy scents. It ensures fresh air circulation but can only last if you solve the fungi problem. Eliminating mold and mildew is essential for success at this stage.

10.  Introduce the Cat Litter

Another excellent odor cleanser is cat litter. You can use this product similar to vinegar to eliminate unpleasant smells by absorbing scents. If you want to eliminate musty odors in your basement, cat litter will help you.

Consider getting a small bucket of cat litter and several bowls from the store to eradicate musty smells. It’s time to add a cup of the litter into several bowls and place it in separate locations in the basement.

The cat litter absorption capabilities will eradicate the unpleasant odor affecting the air quality of your home. Cat litters are efficient and can remove the smell in less than 24 hours.

11.  Introduce Baking Soda

You can get rid of any household mold with vinegar and baking soda, even musty smells from your basement. Baking soda can overpower mold infestations if you perceive moldy smells from your basement.

Baking soda absorbs the unpleasant smell from air ducts and introduces fresh scents. Consider buying several containers and a carton of baking soda for the basement musty odor removal.

Now stir the baking soda in the bowls evenly and place it in strategic locations to soak out musty odors. The baking soda spray will improve the air circulating and eradicate mold species. Furthermore, you can change the bowl locations during intervals until the unpleasant smells are gone.

12.  Use Baking Soda to Absorb Moisture

While baking soda eliminates unpleasant smells, it also has absorbent properties. Many people cannot remove carpets in the basement without ripping them.

Unwanted moisture can form in the carpets, letting mold and mildews thrive. Consider getting baking soda if you cannot remove carpets in your basement without ruining it. It will eradicate as much moisture as possible.

Sprinkling the soda into the carpeted area makes it less likely to accommodate spores. Let the soda rest in the carper for 24 hours for effective results. The soda will suck up the foul odors and eliminate any fungus. 

13.  Dry It Out

Another ideal way to eradicate the musty smell is to open the basement windows and dry the odor. Opening the basement window allows fresh air, but call your fan into action for excess humidity level.

Set up a dryer vent or fan locations around the basement and the stairs for cross ventilation. Keep the window fan functioning for a few days with the windows open, and it will dry the smell out.

If you stay in humid environments, this might be your best strategy for eliminating musty basement odors.

14.  Put in a Sump Pump

If you have no sump pump or perimeter drainage system installed in damp basements, it’s time to make that decision. If you have water seeping through the floor, mold growth occurs and pollute the air with nasty odors. But a pump sump is the solution because it controls mold.

Water will create soft spots on the basement ground without a sump pump. This pump prevents rising water from seeping through the basement floor.

15.  Use a Dehumidifier

Ensuring mold removal can be as simple as introducing a dehumidifier to your basement. A dehumidifier is similar to dryer vents with relative humidity to kill mold. It prevents water buildup, mold and mildew and removes excess moisture in the air.

This machine has control settings for cooler air and can manage warmer air humidity. Placing this functional machine in your finished basement will prevent mold growth and make the air feel fresh. Consider figuring out the problem to prevent future occurrences.

16. Use The Crown Choice Air Freshener

The Crown Choice Air Freshener is one of the best solution for getting rid of musty smell in your basement. It’s also a great crawl space deodorizer.

This aroma therapy air freshener includes essential oils as its main ingredient. Unlike other natural air freshener, our air spray targets the source of the odor instead of masking it.

It’s also non toxic and safe for children and pets. Moreover, it’s not for freshening the rooms in your home. You can also use it for your linens, pillows and bedsheets.

Lavender Spray – Natural Essential Oils - Relaxing Aromatherapy

af lavender

Lavender Spray – Natural Essential Oils - Relaxing Aromatherapy

af lavender
Vanilla – 128 Servings IN STOCK ready to ship
      4.3 of 5 838 REVIEWS
  • ✔️ BEST LAVENDER SPRAY: 100% safe and natural ingredients.
  • ✔️ RELAXING AROMATHERAPY: Essential oil room spray helps you relax and sleep.
  • ✔️ FRESHENER SPRAY: Use on linens, bedding, pillows, carpets, upholstery, curtains.


Money Back Guarantee

Free ground shipping View Label / Ingredients

How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Basement 1


Consider eliminating musty basement smells for a healthy and happy life. Unpleasant musty odors can cause nasal irritation and respiratory infections detrimental to your health. But eradicating the odor from the foundation is your solution.

You can also eliminate molds with the tea tree oil solution. Consider damping the floor and walls with plastic vapor barriers to resist moisture diffusion. You can identify the problem by checking the foundation for pipe leaks and wet areas.

Vinegar and baking soda are essential for removing fungus causing the smell. Mold and mildew buildup from drain pipes, sewage, and air conditioning ducts are common odor causes. They create wet areas, allowing fungi to flourish and reproduce.

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