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Getting Rid of a Musty Smell in the Basement

September 20, 2015

My 1950s era basement has such a strong musty smell that it can be noticed on the first floor. The house has a waterproofing system on the walls and floor, and there is no moisture anywhere that is visible.

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The dehumidifier runs 24/7 on high. There are 2 floor drains, one used by the dehumidifier and a sump pump. Help! I can't stand the smell in my kitchen, which wafts up from the basement.

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October 21, 201510 found this helpful
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I have been successful at getting rid of musty odors by setting out bowls of straight white vinegar in such an area. had a friend who lived in the basement area of a very old house. he used the vinegar and it worked for him. took a few days. and to keep the odor away, the vinegar needs to be replaced as needed. also increase the fresh air intake.

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16 More Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

July 20, 2007

How do I control musty odor in and old cellar?

David from Stillwater, NY

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July 20, 20073 found this helpful
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Place BBQ charcoals around the room, they pull the smell out, Them use Oil Of Mint, on cotton balls to give it a nice mintie smell

Editor's Note: To clarify, use plain barbecue charcoal, NOT the easy light kind with the lighter fluid in them.

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July 26, 20073 found this helpful
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You need a dehumidifier to take the moisture out of the air. After a few days you will be amazed at the difference.

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By joesgirl (Guest Post)
July 26, 20071 found this helpful
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If you have a cellar door make sure the screen is in & also have a screen made for any small cellar windows. Between the cellar door screen & the window screen you should receive some type of cross breeze thereby eliminating the musty smell. Plus a dehumidifier absolutely also helps. Good luck.

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April 26, 2011

My aunt's basement has a very strong musty smell that is in the walls as well as the ceiling and beams. Is there anything that can be painted or sprayed on all the surfaces before regular painting so the smell is entirely covered?

By Lois Crane from OH

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April 26, 20114 found this helpful
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If it's possible open the windows in the basement to ventilate it so fresh air comes in. If you are going to do the job of taking care of the musty smell in the basement, make sure that you wear a face mask before you tackle a cleaning job. Use a mixture of bleach and water and scrub the walls. The bleach and water combination will get rid of the musty smell and mold. I don't know what can be done with the ceiling. What your aunt's basement needs is a dehumidifier which will remove the dampness.

Maybe others will post some of their ideas.

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April 27, 20113 found this helpful
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I agree with the idea of using bleach, but also trying using the product KILZ. It's a primer you use before painting. In my experience, it gets rid of odor and if your going from a darker color to lighter, it works great. Hope this helps.

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March 3, 2015

How do you get rid of a musty smell in the basement?

By Wanda

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March 7, 20152 found this helpful
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To rid the basement of musty smells use regular charcoal bricks. The kind used for grilling out. Do not use the ones with lighter fluid added to them. Place several bricks inb a pie tin and place around your basement. Hope this helps.

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June 23, 2012

How do I get rid of a musty smell in the basement?

By Rosie

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June 25, 20122 found this helpful
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A musty smell usually comes from mold or dirt. Try running a dehumidifier to see if it improves. My daughter's allergist tells her a clean house doesn't smell. I hope this helps you. I have that smell in my basement, too.

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July 7, 20123 found this helpful
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Vinegar will take care of mustiness and molds, but it's a bit of a challenge to wash a whole basement with it. Maybe a spray bottle, and set pans of it out. Definitely the dehumidifier though, otherwise the vinegar won't be able to keep up.

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October 18, 2014

Our basement is musty; I clean it often, but am not doing what needs to be done. What can we do to remove odor?

By Jean

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October 27, 20142 found this helpful
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If your basement floor has vinyl flooring or linoleum or anything that is non breathable check underneath for water and mould. A concrete floor must be able to breath or you will get mould and a musty smell.

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August 6, 2014

I have a walk-out cellar w/2 windows and a patio door. The windows are open all the time and I still get that smell. I purchased a dehumidifier. I ran it for a week straight which helped with the smell but almost doubled my light bill. Would a ceiling fan help? The walls are dry walled and it's all open. It's the game room and doubles as a spare bedroom.

By Lottie H

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December 7, 20170 found this helpful

A dehumidifier should not have that effect on your electric bill. If you ran it, windows are open and you still have that smell, then somehow water is getting in. Do you have a leak coming from any pipes, hotwater heater, furnace??? Are your walls leaking in water from the outside? Yes a ceiling fan would also help, but the best thing would be to find a source of where the moisture is coming from.

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December 7, 20170 found this helpful

Dehumidifiers dont use a lot of electricity. You can run fans for little money

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July 1, 20180 found this helpful

Yes, a dehumididifer runs your electric up BIG time . I have a brand new one in my basement and used it one year. I don't use it anymore because I can't afford the double bill.

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July 15, 2014

My basement is 90% finished, but I still get a musty smell in it. How can I get rid of it without spending a lot of money?

By Melissa M

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December 7, 20170 found this helpful

I would suggest a dehumidifier. Do you have any windows you could open as well?

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December 7, 20170 found this helpful

You can get dehumidifier bags at any hardware store

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November 3, 2014

Our walk out basement has a cellar smell. The floor is fully carpeted over cement and has been there for about 25 years. The cellar smell/concrete smell appeared about 2 years ago. How do we get rid of this musty concrete/cellar smell?

By Pat M.

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December 6, 20170 found this helpful

Moisture is getting in some where to cause the smell. You are going to have to find the source and repair it. Look for places where the concrete or carpet may be damp. Check around the windows and door and foundation. Until you find it, put in a dehumidifier.

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May 14, 2013

There is a strong musty smell in my above ground and totally finished basement or lower level.

By Rob

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Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

August 19, 2009

The basement in our cottage became musty 2 summers ago when we were not available to dump the dehumidifier. Prior to that it was fresh and dry.

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August 11, 2007

Our basement has a damp and musty smell and we were wondering if there is anything that we can do to get rid of the smell?

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April 26, 2011

I have a very musty smelly basement. I may have someone staying with us who could live down there.

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June 16, 2009

Could anyone tell me how to get a musty smell out of the basement? I run a dehumidifier daily and I have tried vinegar, baking soda and Lysol but it still smells.

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