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Getting Rid of a Musty Smell in the Basement

Category Odors
Basements are notorious for developing musty smells. This is a guide about getting rid of a musty smell in the basement.
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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.

By 0 found this helpful
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. 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, 20154 found this helpful
Best Answer

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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By 1 found this helpful
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?

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By Lois Crane from OH

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April 26, 20113 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, 20112 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.

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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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By 0 found this helpful
July 20, 2007

How do I control musty odor in and old cellar?

David from Stillwater, NY

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July 20, 20071 found this helpful
Best Answer

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, 20071 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, 20070 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.

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Plus a dehumidifier absolutely also helps. Good luck.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 3, 2015

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

By Wanda

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March 7, 20151 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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By 0 found this helpful
June 23, 2012

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

By Rosie

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June 25, 20121 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, 20121 found this helpful
Best Answer

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, 20140 found this helpful

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, 20141 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, 20140 found this helpful

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 15, 20140 found this helpful

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, 20140 found this helpful

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, 20130 found this helpful

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

By Rob

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August 19, 20091 found this helpful

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. There are no visible signs of mold or mildew. It is mostly painted cinder block with a painted floor covered with carpet remnants. We know that it needs be removed.

The well is in the basement and you can see the sand around it so moisture will be an ongoing issue if the dehumidifier is not emptied regularly. What can we use or do to clean it and remove the musty smell?

By shelley silva from Grand Rapids, MI

Answers:

Musty Smell in Basement

Lowe's has a wonderful, powerful, almost magical product that comes in a can you simply set into the room and leave it, it draws out all damp, musty smells. I don't know the brand name, but an associate there can help you find it. I use them sometimes in my hallway where my dogs like to urinate at night. Works perfectly. (06/17/2009)

By Darween

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August 11, 20071 found this helpful

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? We have a lot of boxes and suitcases down there with things in them and they all have a bad odor. Thank you for any help

Vick from Pennsylvania

Answers:

Musty Smell in Basement

We had that problem too. I bought several large bags of charcoal (the kind used for grilling), opened them and placed them around the basement in different areas. The charcoal absorbs the odors and some of the dampness that causes the odor. I hope this helps.
Editor's Note: Make sure you don't use the quick light kind that has lighter fuel in it. Plain charcoal should work well. (09/12/2006)

By Darlene

Musty Smell in Basement

You probably need to invest in a dehumidifier. (09/13/2006)

By Robin

Musty Smell in Basement

You could try these two things.One,basement needs to be ventilated.Open all basement windows.They should be open from April to October if you live in the north.Two,use a dehumidifier. (09/14/2006)

By Dean

Musty Smell in Basement

to permanently get rid of the odor you need to get rid of the dampness. have you checked for cracks and leaks? if you're handy you can do any repairs yourself. if you're too busy or not too handy you need to get it done professionally. sometimes just painting the cement walls seals off a lot of dampness. cement is very porous and breathes and since one side is against damp soil it breathes in dampness. (09/14/2006)

By Carla

Musty Smell in Basement

If you can ventilate in any way, I'd set out a plastic dishtub of hot water containing 1/3 cup bleach for several days. If no ventilation available, try other options below. God bless and protect you and your belongings as you try. :?) (09/14/2006)

By Lynda

Musty Smell in Basement

I bought a dehumidifier. (09/20/2006)

By Meari

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April 26, 20110 found this helpful

I have a very musty smelly basement. I may have someone staying with us who could live down there. Besides a dehumidifier or those retail water absorbers that you buy what can I do about the odor? Any tried and true secrets for the basement?

By Edith from CT

Answers:

Musty Smell in Basement

If your basement is damp, it may be due to sealing it up and keeping windows closed. You are better off ventilating the basement by opening windows for cross-ventilation from April to October. Using the dehumidifier too much can be a hazard sometimes, because a humidifier will remove the water vapor from the air, which is good, but will also pull water vapor through the concrete slab, making unnecessary work. In cold weather, the basement should be dry, and there should be no need for ventilation or de-humidification, which costs big bucks. (08/20/2009)

By Deanj

Musty Smell in Basement

There is a product called Odoban, comes in a gallon jug and is highly concentrated it works wonderfully at removing any odor. You can clean with it and then mix a spray bottle up mixed with water and use it to spray on carpet, couch, pillows, drapes, just about anything. This product is the greatest. I even use to clean the barn and you would not know there were animals living in there. I buy it at Home Depot. (08/22/2009)

By Pam Belleville

Musty Smell in Basement

If you like the smell of olives, then dust the basement area with olive leaf powder. Not only will OLP eliminate the musty smell, it will also keep any mold from forming. Use of a dehumidifier, along with the dusting of olive leaf powder, will do it. Peace and blessings.

Joyce in CT (08/23/2009)

By Joyce

Musty Smell in Basement

I have used Odo Ban in a spray which I have purchased from Walmart and it says it is pet friendly. Nice scent. I have used Simple Green as well which is nontoxic. With both I spray carpet and wipe down stuff.

I have also used white vinegar left in bowls around the room. Spritzed the carpet as well. Takes longer for the vinegar scent to disappear, but it is a disinfectant and mold killer as well.

Lavender essential oil is another good disinfectant. Mix about 8 drops with water in a spray bottle and have at it.
(08/23/2009)

By Dorina

Musty Smell in Basement

If it's that musty, then it's that damp, and the only real solution is to dry it up. Otherwise you are just covering it up. Molds in the air can make you sick. Get a dehumidifier. (08/25/2009)

By Beth

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June 16, 20090 found this helpful

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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