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How to Get Rid of a Musty, Dusty House Smell

How to Get Rid of a Musty, Dusty House Smell

It’s hard to fully enjoy your home sweet home – or invite guests over to enjoy it with you – if you feel like your place smells bad. Strange odors are embarrassing, frustrating, and annoying, especially when you clean every crevice, vacuum every corner, and still can’t get rid of the odor.

It’s time to learn how to get rid of a musty house smell! Find out what may be causing the problem, what you can do to help fix it, and how to deodorize furniture and carpeting.

Why Does My House Smell Musty?

The first step to eliminating musty odors in the home is learning the usual culprits. With this information, you can pinpoint the specific cause in your home.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are the first things to look for when you notice a musty smell. Many people assume if they can’t see any mold or mildew, it doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, both can grow in sneaky, concealed places – which you wouldn’t find until the smell clues you in.

When moisture accumulates in an area with stagnant air, it’s a prime spot for mold and mildew growth. Growth can occur behind your walls, within your roof, in crawl spaces, under sinks, behind wallpaper, around window frames, and under the carpet. The more moisture accumulates, the worse the smell will get.

Poor Airflow

What if your house smells musty but has no mold? There are certainly other things that might be causing strange odors. We’ve all experienced the misery of being stuck in a small, cramped, stuffy room before. That same phenomenon may be happening in your home, causing the musty smell to linger. If your house has poor airflow and circulation, you may notice a musty, dusty smell. Adding an air purifier to your home can increase airflow and help remove some of the stink from stagnant air.

Additionally, odors can build up in your heating and air conditioning systems. If it’s been a while since you had your ducts cleaned, gunky ducts might be the cause of an unpleasant stench.

Old Spills or Accidents

A minor spill or mishap from your pup may not seem like a big deal at the time, but it can go from bad to worse if you don’t clean up properly. Liquids and messes can actually seep into your carpet and flooring, which – you guessed it – can lead to that musty, mildewy smell you’re noticing.

How to Remove Musty Odors From Home

Background knowledge is essential, but you’re here to learn how to eliminate a musty house smell. There are a few steps to take.

Change Your Air Filter and Clean the Ducts

If the musty smell originates from your heating and air conditioning (HVAC) system, you’ll notice a huge difference by changing your air filters and thoroughly cleaning your ducts. The air filter is responsible for capturing the dust and dander that’s floating in the air, much of which contains odor-causing bacteria. Changing your air filter allows the system to work better and trap floating allergens causing a stench.

Map out a routine schedule for doing both things moving forward, and you can help prevent the smell from reoccurring. The heating and cooling pros at ARS Rescue Rooter recommend replacing your home’s HVAC filter every 30 days.

Repair Leaks

This fix is labor intensive, but it’s essential if moisture is the cause of the smell in your home. Fixing leaks may entail repairing your roof, replacing broken pipes, fixing a damaged air conditioning unit, or resealing windows and doors. Remember, any moisture can contribute to mold growth. Unless these leaks are addressed, the smell will stick around.

If you rent your home or apartment, your landlord will typically be responsible for addressing major structural issues such as roofing, broken pipes, and air conditioning and will do so when you submit a work order. Review your lease to check what your landlord is responsible for before spending any money on large repairs!

Clean or Replace Your Carpets

Even in the cleanest homes, carpets can harbor large amounts of bacteria – in fact, there are 200,000 bacteria in every square inch of carpet, including some truly sickening germs such as MERSA, campylobacter, and norovirus. Imagine what may be lurking in a dirty carpet!

The cause of the smell may be coming from your floors, and a superficial vacuum won’t do much to remove musty odors from the carpet. Your best bet for removing the smell is to get your carpet cleaned professionally or rent a professional-grade carpet cleaner to do it yourself. Don’t forget to clean your rugs while you’re at it!

If you’ve done a deep clean and the smell is still there, it might be time to have your carpets replaced. Fortunately, replacing carpeting also gives you the opportunity to inspect the floor underneath for stains or water damage. If you notice staining and moisture on the flooring below the carpet, seal them with oil-based paint prior to your new carpet going down.

Deep Clean Upholstered Furniture

An often-overlooked source of a musty smell is the furniture in your home. Upholstered furniture is prone to mothballs and mold, especially if the pieces have ever been tucked away in an attic, basement, or storage unit. Steam cleaning upholstered furniture is an effective way to remove smells, and you can typically rent furniture cleaners for a day or two. Make sure to let your furniture dry thoroughly – directly in the sunshine works best!

Everyone knows to wash their sheets regularly, but don’t forget to routinely clean your mattress, too. Dust mites love mattresses, and they may be contributing to an overall musty smell in your home. If you can’t seem to get rid of the smell – and you’ve had your mattress for over seven years – it may be time to invest in a new one altogether.

Remove Wallpaper and Paint Your Walls

If the mildewy smell is coming from your walls, consider stripping the wallpaper and painting with mold-resistant paint. Unfortunately, mold and mildew love to take up residence behind wallpaper, and this is a common reason for musty smells. By painting with oil-based paint, you can seal your walls and help prevent mold and mildew growth.

Air Out Your House

When you think about a clean, refreshing house, what do you imagine? Do you think of an open window with gauzy white curtains fluttering in a gentle breeze, while the scent of blooming lavender floats through the room? Well, there’s a good reason for that! According to the EPA, indoor air quality can often be worse than outdoor, even in the largest metropolitan areas. A benefit of modern buildings is that they are much more energy efficient, but that can come at the cost of being sealed-off and stuffy.

Once you’ve addressed the root causes of a smell, help it dissipate by airing out your home. Open windows, run ceiling fans, and let the fresh air flow. Investing in a good air purifier can also keep your house smelling fresh.

Get Rid of Your Musty House Smell with Help from Rent-A-Center

No matter how much work you put into deodorizing furniture, sometimes it’s better just to replace an item altogether. From sofas and mattresses to rugs to bedroom furniture and carpet deep cleaners, Rent-A-Center has the rent-to-own options you need to turn your home into a pleasant-smelling oasis. Shop online or at your nearest Rent-A-Center today.

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