Home » Musty smell in house? Here’s what’s causing it

Musty smell in house? Here’s what’s causing it

Musty smell in house? Here's what's causing it

There are obvious reasons for bad smells in our house, such as cooking, leftovers, or dirty clothes. However, there are hidden dangers such as mold lingering in the spots where you can’t see them, and the terrible smell they produce can be dangerous to your health and can even cause some serious problems.

We’ve compiled a list of places that can be common Causes of Smell in your house that you need to find, repair, and clean to keep your home healthy and safe.

Why does my room smell bad?

Sometimes when there is a smell in the room, the cause of the smell may not be clear. If the room smells of mold, the so-called microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs) may be the cause.

Mold is found almost everywhere in the house it may be hidden in the walls, windows, under carpets, or in the corners of the bathroom near the bedroom. It should be understood that presence of the mold or smelling the mold can be harmful to your health. Strictly speaking, you smell not only the mold but also the chemicals released during the different stages of mold growth.

Although, it is the most common cause of bad smells in the house but it may not be the only one causing the smell.

What does mold smell like?

Houses have their own unique fragrance that reflects the character and nature of people living in them. There are factors that change this odor, such as Mold. Mold doesn’t always have a pungent smell, but if it is present, it is often Musty.

People describe mold as smelling like earthy, fleshy, rotten wood or wet dirt. For many people, the smell is unpleasant, pungent, and harsh. As the mold grows, it can release microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs)or gases.

What are the common Causes of musty Smell in the house?

Laundry Room

  • Dirty Laundry

Laundry baskets are breeding grounds for bacteria. Closets can have an unpleasant odor, especially if a basket of dirty clothes is stored inside. Keep closet doors open to regularly prevent moisture from getting trapped inside and try washing dirty laundry regularly. If the closet smells strange, dirty laundry could be the cause.

  • Stinky Washer

Unfortunately, front-loading washers are notorious for bad smell if not handled and maintained properly. Moisture penetrates door seals and detergent compartments, causing an unpleasant odor of mold and mildew. When the washing process ends, leave the detergent drawer and door open for a while to allow everything to dry completely. If your washing machine still smells bad, Try this: Add 1 Cup of Bleach in One gallon of lukewarm water. Dip a piece of cloth into the solution. Wipe the washing drum thoroughly with the cloth including the door seal.


Of course, the bedroom doesn’t seem to be the best place for mold to grow, but it’s quite possible. To keep your room healthy and fresh, look for mold on mattresses, windowsills, and flower pots in your bedroom

Cigarettes are another culprit. Cigarette smoke sticks to clothes and furniture and is a top source of air pollution in your home. To maximize the health benefits of yourself and those around you, consider quitting smoking completely. Or at least don’t smoke indoors.

  • Carpet (use carpet freshener)

If your room is carpeted, it may take some work, but when you’re done, the room smells better. If the carpet floors are thoroughly cleaned.

Look for spots with a particularly unpleasant smell. Your pet may have been in an accident, soaking the carpet or there may have been a water or beverage spill, causing the carpet to become moist and moldy.

Here’s how to clean:

Sprinkle baking soda over the affected area. If possible, leave it overnight for 1-2 days. This way, the baking soda can absorb the stinky smell.

Vacuum the baking powder off the carpet. This will remove the bad odor and also any dirt and debris.

Clean the entire carpet properly. As an additional measure, you can sprinkle baking soda all over the carpet before vacuuming.

No matter what type of floor your bedroom has, don’t forget to clean the hard-to-reach areas. It is located under large furniture or in the back of a cabinet/ closet.

  • Smelly Closet

Dirty clothes leave a disgusting odor in the bedroom even after washing them. The smell can build up on your bed sheets or get caught on the carpet under your clothes. 

If the bedroom starts smelling like your body, try hanging socks with charcoal in your room. Activated charcoal absorbs odors from the air. Wash everything that comes in contact with your clothes and wash your hamper regularly with a DIY Homemade deodorizing spray/ deodorizing surface cleaner.

  • Mattress

Like clothes, mattresses start smelling when they are used over and over again. Unlike clothes, you cannot put a mattress in the washing machine.

This can be a problem if you have a pet, a sweaty sleeping partner, a smoking partner, or a child who still likes wetting the bed.

To keep mattresses fresh:

  • Wash your bed sheets regularly
  • Vacuum the mattress
  • Avoid staining the mattress. Already late? Remove the stains with commercial or homemade cleaner
  • keep the mattress fresh with a deodorizer
  • Air out mattress
  • Keep the room ventilated


There are many places in the kitchen where mold can hide, so you need to check them carefully. Look inside, below, around the refrigerator, under the sink, and inside the microwave and oven/ stove. And don’t forget to check the most important place, the trash can. This is the place where mold is always there.

  • Garbage Disposal/ Trash Can

Within a week, household waste can become extremely disgusting and spread smells that can spread throughout your kitchen and home. From old leftovers to discarded vegetables, trash can be the main source of bad odors, but it doesn’t have to be ignored.

There are many different strategies you can use to reduce the smell of garbage. The traditional method is to sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the trash can to absorb the odor. When cleaning the bottom of the trash can, rinse off the baking soda and the smell will disappear. If the smell still persists and it’s a stronger one, you can use a bleach solution to get rid of the odor and kill the bacteria and germs as well. Regularly rinsing and cleaning the garbage may be enough to get rid of the odor.

  • The Refrigerator

There are a few things you can do if your refrigerator smells bad. First of all, clean the spills immediately, throw away spoiled food regularly, and clean the interiors as well. If the strong smell persists, you can keep a small bag/pouch of activated charcoal in the corner inside your fridge. One bag can be put in the freezer and another in the fridge.


As much as we love our four-legged family members, they do make our home’s clothes, furniture, and carpets stinky. Even worse, our beloved pets can leave odor stains that are difficult to remove from certain substances.

Here are a few precautions and tips to get rid of pet odors:

  • Use White vinegar to clean and clear out any stinky spots on the furniture or carpets
  • After cleaning, use a deodorizer to make the spot smell nice
  • Vacuum Frequently
  • Let the fresh air in
  • Keep your pets nice and clean
  • Train them
  • Give them a bath regularly

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