Woman disgusted by smell of shirt-Steamatic Red River Valley is here to help!

How To Get Rid Of That Musty Smell in the Home

Updated: April 24, 2024

The musty smell is an odor that has haunted laundry rooms, gym bags, and basements for centuries. Anywhere fabric and material are allowed to sit damp, you start to smell it. That musty, moldy, mildewy smell. When you uncover a basket of towels that have been sitting or, worse, a box of clothes in a damp basement, it can make you want to throw the whole lot away. But wait. Despite the bad smell, there are high chances that most musty things can be easily rescued.

Here at Steamatic of Red River Valley, we’ve tackled our fair share, and then some, of musty basements, mildewy carpets, and flooded furniture. Here are our best methods for removing the musty smell at home and with professional help.

Deodorize the Room

First, clear the air. The musty smell comes from mold, mildew colonies growing in damp material, and millions of spores in the air. You can quickly deodorize a room – and identify just where the musty smell is coming from – if you know-how.

Use a fan and an open window, if possible, to blow most of the existing musty air outdoors, where the mold spores can be free without putting you or others at respiratory or allergy risk. Then re-odorize the room and gently cleanse everything with a mild mix of warm water and lemon juice in a fine spray bottle.

How to Get Musty Smells Out of Clothes

Clothes are the number one culprit for must when there hasn’t been a recent flood or leak in the house. Any damp clothes can become musty, even sitting damp and clean in the washing machine. The good news is that you can quickly restore musty clothes.

Tips To Remove Musty Smell From Clothes

  • Re-wash musty clothes with hot water and 1-3 cups of white vinegar
  • Boil musty clothes in a 1:1 water and vinegar solution
  • Add borax or baking soda to a laundry load of musty clothes
  • Freeze dry, musty clothing for 3+ hours, then thaw and wash
  • Send boxes of musty clothes to a mold restoration service

How to Get Rid of the Musty Smell in Closets

A musty smell in your closet can result from a leak, a pet accident, or just a pile of wet laundry left too long on the floor. You’ll need to track down the smell to get rid of it.

Tips To Eliminate The Odors In A Musty Closet

  • Remove everything from the closet, sniff again
  • Re-wash items that smell musty with hot water and vinegar
  • Clean the inside of the closet with 1:1 warm water and vinegar
  • Sprinkle baking soda in the closet and vacuum after an hour
  • Have the closet carpet professionally treated

How to Remove Musty Smells from the Washing Machine

Washing machines get musty when the moisture inside never fully drains, or musty clothes sit too long. Front-loading washers are especially prone to must inside the large rubber seal.

Tips To Remove Musty Smell From Clothes

  • Run an empty hot-water load
  • Add vinegar to your laundry loads
  • Completely wipe out the seal of front-loading washers
  • Have your washer cleaned and maintained

Tips to Eliminate Mold and Mildew

    • Vinegar, bleach, and ammonia can all kill mold. Never mix the bleach and the ammonia.
    • Hot water stops mold from returning
    • Dry clothes from the washer immediately
    • Dry furniture and items soaked in a floor immediately
    • A sunny clothesline can fight the musty smell
    • Mold remediation and professional upholstery cleaning can do what DIY can’t to save musty items and furniture

Professional Residential Cleaning Services in Grand Forks & Fargo

Steamatic of Red River Valley is proud to provide mold restoration services through upholstery cleaning and furniture cleaning. If household furniture or drapes were damaged in a recent flood, plumbing leak, or another drenching fiasco, we can help. Contact us today, and we’ll start immediately to rescue your furniture and upholstery from the musty smell and hidden mold.c



Image Source; surachet khamsuk / Shutterstock

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