How to get rid of musty smells in your home
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How to get rid of musty smells in your home

Jun 22, 2024

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that musty smell in your home is most likely caused by mould.

Watch: Ceiling mould paint prep

Hopefully, you've caught a whiff of the mould early, so there is still time to get rid of it (and its nasty smell).

Mould spores are everywhere. But for them to grow, they need moisture. If there's mould, there's also moisture. So that pile of damp clothes on the floor starting to smell - that's mould.

Shani Troubady, Air Quality Applied Scientist at Aeris Environmental, previously told Better Homes and Gardens, "In the right conditions, mould can develop within 24 hours."

"Most fungi can start growing on surfaces with a wood moisture content of 16% and above, other surfaces such as carpets, plasterboard walls and ceilings, and furniture such as lounge and desk chairs."

If you have a spill or a leak, it's vital to clean it up and dry it quickly to prevent mould from growing.

If you keep breathing in air that smells musty and stale, it's time to work out exactly where it's coming from. The first places to look are anywhere with a water supply. Check these familiar places the mould is usually hiding.

Find the moisture source

Once you've discovered where the mould is lurking, you first need to work out the cause of moisture; otherwise, the problem will keep growing.

Prevent moisture in your home

Using certain appliances without an exhaust fan significantly increases moisture in homes. Ensure exhaust systems are turned on in bathrooms and when using the stove, including boiling the kettle.

Install a dehumidifier

To help reduce the humidity in your home, try using a dehumidifier. Here are our top picks for dehumidifers.

If the size of your mould growth is large, you should call in an expert. If it's surface mould, like on a window, you can attempt to get rid of it yourself.

But killing mould isn't enough. You also have to remove it.

Lucinda Curran is an Indoor Environmental Health Consultant. She previously shared with BHG her steps for removing mould.

Steps for removing mould

Hot water washing cycle. If the musty smell is coming from towels or linen, give them a good wash on a hot water cycle and make sure they are completely dry before storing them away again.

Deep clean your carpets. Carpets and rugs trap all kinds of bacteria, eventually leading to strange smells if not cleaned regularly. Just make sure it's excellent, and there's adequate ventilation or airflow to make sure it dries properly.

Get rid of clutter. The old stack of magazines or the pile of clothes you've meant to sort out. They are excellent places for mould to start growing. All it takes is a little moisture and a lot of neglect. Before you know it, that musty smell is back again.

Increase air flow. Nothing beats fresh air. So even if it’s the beginning of winter, it’s always a good idea to open the windows, even for a few hours a day.

Use bi-carb soda. a cup of bi-carb soda strateically places is the perfect way absorb bad smells and excess moisture.

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Watch: Ceiling mould paint prepWhy your home smells mustyHow to find the source of a musty smellWhat to do if your home smells musty and stale?Find the moisture sourcePrevent moisture in your homeInstall a dehumidifierHow to remove mouldSteps for removing mouldHow to get rid of musty odoursHot water washing cycle.Deep clean your carpets. Get rid of clutter.Increase air flow.Use bi-carb soda. You might also like: