How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Apartment

How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Apartment

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Last updated on March 7th, 2023 at 08:39 am

Your home is your sanctuary, but it might not feel like one if it has a strange or unpleasant odor. If you’ve ever had a musty smell in your apartment, you know foul odors are no fun. Musty smells can be hard to pinpoint and often come from one source or a combination of things. 

To eliminate them, find out if your house has mold or only gets musty in summer, when it rains, or after you’ve been on vacation. Knowing this can help you determine the source of the smell and come up with a lasting solution. This post shows you how to get rid of musty smell in apartment and make it smell good.

Why Does My Apartment Smell Musty?

There are several reasons that can make your room smell musty, but the most common sources are:

  • Stale air: If you’ve been away for a while, don’t be surprised if your apartment has some mustiness to it. If you’re moving into a new apartment, especially one that’s been empty for some time, you may have carpet glue smells or the overwhelming odor of fresh paint.
  • Garbage: trash receptacles are the most obvious cause of unpleasant odor.
  • Cooking and smoking odors from neighbors: such smells can easily waft down hallways and get under your apartment door, or the small spaces between walls, making your apartment unbearable.
  • Nearby construction sites: Sheetrock dust, clouds of sawdust, chemical and welding fumes, can create an acrid, metallic smell that makes your apartment have an unpleasant odor. 
  • Stinky pets: Pets are lovely, but they can be accident-prone or smelly. This is even worse if your pet hasn’t gotten the hang of living in an apartment. 
  • Lingering food smells such as burnt popcorn:
  • Water leaks or hidden water damage

How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Room

Once you’ve known the causes, it’s easier to address the problem. One or several of these ways can get rid of the unpleasant odors in your apartment. 

Clean More Frequently

It’s quite easy to get carried away by your busy schedule and forget the regular cleaning your apartment so often needs. If you have a musty smell, there’s no better time to clean thoroughly. 

Wipe down all surfaces and potential odor sources you are likely to ignore on your usual apartment cleaning routine. Clean the oven, inside the refrigerator, sink drains, trash cans, and your garbage disposal area. Vacuum everything from rugs, curtains, to furniture. Also clean and change your vacuum filter often. 

Fix Water Leaks or Moisture Problems

It doesn’t matter how much cleaning you engage in; if you don’t fix water leaks or other moisture problems, the musty sells will persist. Mold—one of the major sources of unpleasant odors—grows in places with plenty of moisture, or where there has been flooding. Once you’ve identified the leaks, decide whether you can carry out the maintenance or need to hire a contractor. 

Let the Air in

How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Room

Ventilate your home often. Open your windows to let the sunshine in and circulate some fresh air. This classic spring-cleaning approach will remove unpleasant odors from your apartment. Leave them open for some hours or the entire day if the weather allows. Open the space under sinks and kitchen cabinets so air can circulate freely.

In winter months, when you can’t keep windows open for long periods, run your fan regularly. Both overhead fans and free-standing fans encourage air to move through the apartment space. You can also use a dehumidifier for poorly ventilated bathrooms or areas like basements.

Use Odor Absorbers

Odor absorbers are ideal for musty smells confined to small spaces such as your laundry room or closet. It’s also best when the smell is not too intense. Natural odor absorbers like baking soda or activated charcoal are better. They are safe to use, absorb smells, are eco-friendly, and stop odors from forming. However, replace them every two weeks or so.

Place a small baking soda dish in the space with smells to soak up odors or excess moisture. Use odor-eliminating cleaning products or air fresheners when you have minimal odors. 

House Smells Musty But No Mold, What Should I Do?

Increase Air Flow

Restricted airflow and poor ventilation can cause and worsen musty odors. Proper airflow pushes out stagnant air, replacing it with fresh air. Opening more windows and doors is the easiest way to increase airflow, but you can add ventilation fans to remove odors from your home’s air.

Use Essential Oils

Essential oils can help transform the smells in your home. Citrus or peppermint scents are ideal for kitchens. Lavender scented products are great for your bedroom because they have a calming effect. 

House Smells Musty in Summer, What Should I Do? 

During summer, humidity levels are often higher because the air holds more water vapor at a higher temperature. Higher humidity levels encourage the growth of mold and mildew, which causes unpleasant odors.

Lemon peels are a natural way to eliminate musty smells in summer. Boil some lemon peels in water for about 20 minutes, and place a fan near the steaming lemon water. This circulates the sweet fragrance throughout the room. 

Alternatively, the lemons release the fragrant scent, remove the pan and carefully transport it to the stinky area. Leave it on a safe, open surface, so the lemony fragrance fills up the room and freshens up the air. 

Use the lemon water as a natural air freshener by bottling up the cooled lemon water in a spray bottle. This way you can spritz it around the room.

House Smells Musty When AC Is On

If you smell something musty immediately you turn on the AC unit, depending on the type of odor, it may be:

  • You have frozen evaporator coils. To manage this, check and replace the air filters.
  • The air vents or ducts are holding excess moisture. Consult a professional HVAC technician for an air duct cleaning.
  • The condensate line is clogged – clean it once a month.
  • The drain pan is full — get a new drip pan at the hardware store and fix it, or call your HVAC technician to handle it.
  • Your AC system is too big for the home. An HVAC technician can help you identify the right size. 

How to Get Rid of Old Apartment Smell

How to Get Rid of Old Apartment Smell

The offensive old house smell may be from mold and mildew, spills and messes, cigarette or cigar smoke, musty odors trapped in your HVAC system, or insufficient airflow. You can eliminate these unpleasant odors from your home by airing out the house and deep cleaning. If the smells persist;

Seal Exposed Dirt Floor

Any unpaved area in your crawlspace can make the house smell earthy during hot, humid weather or musty after rain. Hire a contractor to seal the dirt floor with concrete.

Change the Air Filter

A clean air filter is effective because it traps airborne contaminants that generate old house smells. Create a schedule to change the air filter in your HVAC appliances regularly.

Paint Your Walls 

Wallpaper and drywall are notorious for soaking up house smells. Strip your old wallpaper and seal the walls by painting the drywall surfaces with oil-based, mold-resistant paint. 

How to Get Musty Smell Out of Clothes

Musty odors are not limited to the air in your house. Sometimes you will smell them on your clothes. To eliminate the musty smell from your clothes:

  • Inspect and clean your washing machine with a mix of baking soda and white vinegar.
  • Clean your clothes. A good wash is sufficient, but if it doesn’t work, you can add a pinch of apple cider vinegar, 1 cup of white vinegar, or 1 cup of baking soda to your laundry detergent. 
  • After a wash cycle is complete, don’t leave your clothes in the machine too long.
  • If possible, hang the clothes outside to dry
  • Dry your laundry fully before arranging it in your dresser or closet
  • Clean your washer out regularly, preferably every few months

How to Get Musty Smell Out of Furniture

Occasionally, upholstered furniture can also harbor musty smells. If your furniture is the source of the smell, deep clean it this way:

  • Wash all removable covers in the laundry
  • Scrub any stains with baking soda
  • If your furniture doesn’t have removable covers, use a soft-bristled brush to dust it off
  • Wipe it off with a damp cloth. 
  • Wipe leather furniture with a mixture of vinegar and water, but don’t over-saturate the fabric.

How to Get Musty Smell Out of Carpet

Unpleasant odors on your carpet may be because of food spills, pet stains, or issues with the flooring. There are several ways to eliminate musty smells from your carpet:

  • Baking soda
    • Sprinkle it on your carpet to spot treat the carpet 
    • Let it sit for an hour
    • Vacuum it to neutralize odors embedded in your carpet
  • White vinegar. You can use undiluted vinegar or mix it with water or baking soda. Bottle it up and spritz it in a spray bottle across the carpeted floor.
  • Thoroughly steam the carpet with a carpet cleaner. Use warm water and a cleaning solution specific to your type of flooring. Once done, air dry the floor thoroughly to avoid damp spots.

There are many reasons you may have a persistent musty smell in your home. Whether your home is new or old, what’s sure is these smells don’t discriminate and can be very irritating. Even though air fresheners, candles, and diffusers can make your home smell better, they can’t take care of lingering odors. Use these tips to eliminate the musty smell from your home permanently.

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