How To Get Rid of Old House Smell: Step-by-step Guide

How To Get Rid of Old House Smell
How To Get Rid of Old House Smell

Your home has a dated odor. Whatever number of times you deep clean your house, the musty smell that lingers in the air cannot be described in any other way. Real old house smell exists, and homeowners and visitors find it quite off-putting. Fortunately, there are several actions you may take to get rid of the old house smell. If you stick with us, we’ll show you how to get rid of the old, and musty house smells and how to stop them from coming again.

What Is the Most Common Cause of Old House Smell?

There is one culprit that is more common than any of the others-mold. Various factors can bring on the old musty smell of a house. These include what the previous owner did to the property, mold, and mildew growing in a dark, damp corner, tobacco, cigarettes, pets, and bugs.

Unquestionably, mold is the main reason an old house smells musty or like wood. This relates to a small phenomenon known as microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs). Mold, bacteria, biofilm, and other biological growths decompose and release mVOCs, which are the gases responsible for the odor of an old musty house. Don’t assume that mold always smells like an old house; it can smell like many different things.

Mold does not only cause musty old house odors. It also poses a threat to public health. Mold can worsen asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions and lead to more severe infections in persons with weakened immune systems.

The old musty house smell is frequently brought on by mold and mildew, so standard ways to eliminate it are ineffective.

Because of the way most older homes were built and the dark, moist environments in which they thrive, there are many ideal locations for mold and mildew to flourish. The likelihood is that you have a mold or mildew issue if the smell doesn’t go away after some time of the house being air-aired out.

You should be sure first to try out other odor-eliminating techniques because the remedy to mold and mildew tends to be more extensive than other approaches.

This will enable you to identify the source of the unpleasant odor in your home.

How to Get Rid of Old House Smell

Many first-time homebuyers will quickly discover that relocating to a new house has a lot of uninteresting parts. For instance, there is a strong probability that you will smell the dreaded “old musty house smell” if you are moving into an older, previously owned property.

No matter how many candles and air purifiers you place in every nook and outlet, an old house’s musty smell never seems to disappear.

To effectively get rid of an old house smell, you must understand the source of the smell. Before going to extremes, you should do a few things first.

The odor of an old musty house may result from stale air accumulated while no one was residing there. As a result, there are a few things you ought to do if you discover that your house has a strange odor.

#1. Locate the source of the musty smell

With enough smelling around, you ought to be able to locate the source of the stench that is more localized. There may be something as easy as a wet rag that fell behind the bed and produced mold. There may also be something under the floorboards if a particular spot in your house or carpet smells musty. If the smell is more pervasive, for instance, if your ancient home smells musty after a rainstorm, it may be a more complicated issue, like black moisture or a leak. In this situation, seek a specialist’s assistance in determining and resolving the issue.

#2. All windows and doors should be left open to breathe fresh air.

When you’ve established that there isn’t any structural moisture or mold producing the musty odor in your home, consider opening multiple doors and windows to enhance airflow (if it’s safe to do so). This is the first and simplest action to air out a musty, humid residence. When your home smells musty after a trip, the scent may be just the result of dust and poor ventilation. Open all curtains and blinds to allow in the brightness and let the fresh air in! Don’t forget to open closed areas like cabinets, closets, and cabinets.

#3. Give musty-smelling clothes a fresh, fragranced wash

If your closet has a musty or wood smell, there’s a good possibility the smell has gotten onto the clothes. Therefore, it could persist in your materials even after you get rid of the musty odor. But fear not; this issue can be quickly resolved in a washing machine cycle with a boost in extra-lovely smell from the Comfort Perfume Deluxe line.

#4. If necessary, turn on all ventilation fans or bring in electric fans.

Ventilation fans that you may turn on to remove odors are frequently found in contemporary bathrooms and kitchens. You may always bring in a portable electric fan and run it for a time to get the air moving in a place that doesn’t have any windows or gets minimal ventilation.

#5. Use lemons as a natural air freshener

Lemon peels can be boiled in water to make an easy and natural air freshener. When the lemony aroma has been released, remove the pan from the kitchen (don’t forget to switch off the stove) and place it in the room you want to air out. Be sure to set the pan down on a suitable surface. A fan can help spread the smell throughout the space. You can also spritz the area with warm lemony water that has been slightly cooled down in a spray bottle. Use your preferred commercial air freshener as an alternative.

#6. Use a plate of baking soda to help absorb smells

A small dish of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) left out for up to 24 hours will help absorb moisture and musty odors in tiny enclosed spaces (closets, cupboards, etc.).

#7. Remove all of the dust and thoroughly clean the space.

Use a feather duster, moist cloth, dustpan, brush, and/or vacuum to go over all surfaces and remove dust if you want to clean the room. Also, hard floors should be mopped using a floor cleanser like Cif.

#8. Make sure all areas are damp-free and well-ventilated in the future

Ensure no areas in the room where damp objects (hand towels, refrigerator condensation, etc.) could come into contact with other textiles or surfaces. This is particularly crucial for spaces behind the toilet and under the sink because leaking pipes might result in musty odors down the road.

Try some of our helpful advice if you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of the old musty house smell that is unquestionably brought on by moisture.

How To Get Rid of Old Musty House Smell

Although a musty smell in your home is never pleasant, it is surprisingly common and rather simple to eliminate. You can do many things if you’re tired of the scent and want a quick fix.

Increasing ventilation, improving natural light (which can kill germs and bacteria), and reducing humidity are generally considered to be your best allies in the battle against musty odors in your home. A thorough deep cleaning of your home can also be in order, depending on how offensive and/or lingering the scent is.

An easy-to-follow road map is provided below to help you get started. By following these instructions, you should know how to get rid of old musty smell in your house and the knowledge necessary to maintain a pleasant odor.

Here are some things you may do to spruce up the house.

#1. Open up the windows. 

This allows the stale air to go while circulating fresh outdoor air. To direct the air outside, you can also position a few tiny fans so that they face the windows.

#2. Clean the interiors thoroughly with antibacterial products. 

Bacteria found on surfaces around the house may be the source of some of the odor’s components. Antibacterial products could be able to help you get rid of it.

#3. Put out bags or bowls of activated charcoal. 

The air’s various molecules, including those that are responsible for different offensive scents, will be drawn out by the porous charcoal.

Around the floors, especially on carpets, sprinkle baking soda.

After letting it sit outside overnight to absorb scents, clean it up with a broom or vacuum.

Vinegar should be misted all around the furniture. Another common ingredient that helps lessen odors is vinegar.

#4. Run a dehumidifier continuously.

Interiors with high humidity tend to have more overt aromas, and moisture can produce musty smells. Additionally, fix any leaking faucets, water pipes, or other fixtures as soon as you can.

#5. Clean your upholstery. 

Upholstery on furniture tends to absorb odors and moisture.

#6. Clean the walls.

Odors can occasionally be trapped and held in by even walls, but you can remove them by clearing off oil, dust, and mildew.

#7. Get the house inspected for mold. 

Mold can ruin surfaces in your house, but more importantly, some species release chemicals. The continuous inhaling of these chemicals can lead to allergic reactions or other health problems.

How to Get Rid of the Old Wood House Smell

An old wood house smells musty and unpleasant with a hint of “something is awry.”

Most of the time, old houses have an old wood house smell. (I know, it’s weird. A lot of living has occurred in a house built between 1880 and 1980. Therefore, scents are inevitable. However, under the correct circumstances, even new dwellings can smell like old wooden houses.

First and first, you must confirm that you do not have a serious mold problem that affects the entire house. The first step is to test for mold. Those findings may indicate the need for a thorough mold check. Following that, mold cleanup may be necessary.

There are a few methods to approach “operation old house smell elimination,” barring a mold issue. Some remedies are particular to the odor’s source (which you should, of course, locate), while other solutions can help get rid of the stale house smell regardless of its origin.

#1. Air out the house

Recall how we talked about stale air earlier. Opening the windows is one of the best methods to let fresh air circulate through a home. While it won’t eliminate the stink if the source needs to be removed, it will help get all those residual odors out of your house.

#2. HVAC and Ductwork

Get your ductwork cleaned and your HVAC system serviced. Be sure to replace your air filters regularly.

#3. Remove carpet, drapery, and old wallpaper

These architectural components must be removed first because they are the worst offenders for keeping the odor of an old house. Unfortunately, removing the carpet, drapes, and wallpaper won’t always eliminate the smell. Following removing the carpet and carpet pad, you must use this subfloor treatment. It would be best if you used Superstratum, Remedy, or EC3 to clean the walls after removing the wallpaper.

#4. Have older real wood floors professionally stripped and resealed

Older wood flooring can accumulate odors. The wood eventually shows through the finish as it ages. Wood readily takes in smells from whatever touches it, which can subsequently cause that musty old house smell to be released into the air. Before stripping and resealing your wood floors, ensure they are thoroughly inspected to rule out the possibility that the odor-producing substance infiltrated underneath them.

#5. Seal exposed dirt floors in the crawlspace.

It would be best if you left this to the experts. Each crawlspace is unique. If your crawlspace already has mold or moisture, that needs to be fixed first.

#6. Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels in check.

High humidity won’t help you much in the old house smell category because mold likes moisture. You must use a dehumidifier if you live in a humid environment or have a basement. This article has more information on dehumidifiers.

#7. Use an air purifier in your main living space and bedrooms.

The purpose of an air purifier is to remove various harmful elements from the air you breathe. By getting rid of the odor-causing items, it combats odors. If you want to make sure you get the best air purifier for your needs, you can learn more about them in this post.

#8. Clean your couch and other fabric furniture.

In couches and fabric furniture, bodily fluids, food and drink, pet dander, dust, and other home horrors can be found. Weekly vacuuming is a terrific idea, but deep cleaning twice a year is essential.

#9. Let the sunlight in.

Nature’s best disinfectant, UV, is present in sunlight.

#10. Pet hygiene

If you have dogs, regularly wash their bedding, immediately wipe up accidents with my favorite product Bubba’s, scoop litter boxes daily, wash them out every two weeks, cover furniture with water-resistant covers, wash this weekly, and frequently vacuum the floors. Use this pet shampoo to give your pet a regular bath if they can handle it. It is specially made to “bio balance” the skin and fur on your cat.

Related Article: MOLD IN APARTMENT: How To Test For Molds In Apartments

What Do Housekeepers Use to Make Their Homes Smell Nice?

Combine complementary scents, such as chamomile, lavender, and vanilla, or a blend of citrus oils. A delicious aroma is produced by combining rosemary, lemon, lavender, wild orange, and peppermint. Begin with a few drops at a time and work your way up to more.

What in the House Absorbs That Odor?

Baking soda is one of the best items for absorbing bad odors. To neutralize foul odors that tend to develop in these places, keep an open box or bowl of baking soda in your refrigerator and sprinkle some in the bottom of your trash cans.

What Causes Some People’s Homes to Stink?

There is something known as “Occupant Odor.” These odors are caused by detergents, cooking odors, cleaning supplies, and room fresheners. These scents then take up residence in items such as curtains, carpets, cushions, and pillows. The combination of these scents creates your distinct home smell.


Make an effort to increase the fresh, clean aroma in your home after addressing the old house smell’s root cause, particularly if you’re trying to sell your house.

Simple fragrances have been shown to promote sales, while citrus has been shown to raise purchasers’ perceptions of a property’s value. So, before a performance, slice a couple of oranges or lemons. Plug-in air fresheners, sprays, essential oils, and intensely scented candles are not as popular with buyers and visitors as neutral and natural scents.

To get rid of the old house smell, you can leave an open package of baking soda in secret locations. Choose all-natural commercial products like FreshWave or DampRid that absorb odors and trap more moisture in the air if odors are persistent.

Clean your home regularly, according to the seasons, and most importantly, before a buyer sees it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my house smell like old wood?

Mold is frequently described as having a strong, earthy odor that is comparable to that of wet socks or rotting wood. Even the very mention of mold invokes unpleasant sensations like dampness, sourness, or expired food. This offensive odor is most likely to be present in basements and older houses without adequate ventilation

Why do people's houses smell different?

Numerous factors might affect a home’s aroma. The owners can have outdated furnishings or animals, reside close to the sea, or bake bread. The smell can also be affected by the cleansers they use or how frequently they vacuum. Even your house emits a smell.

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