A house owner suffering from damp smells in the house

How To Get Rid Of Damp Smells?

How To Get Rid Of Damp Smells?


Key Takeaways

Importance of Identifying the Source: Relying on odors alone as a test for indoor air quality is unreliable. Identifying and addressing the source of musty odors is crucial for effective elimination and preventing their return.

Common Causes of Musty Smells: Poor ventilation and high moisture levels contribute to musty odors, but moisture is the primary catalyst for mold growth. Mold releases microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs), contributing to the characteristic musty smell.

Removing Damp Smells in Different Areas: In the home, identify and eliminate the source of the smell, dispose of contaminated items, and ensure proper ventilation. In the bedroom, wash bedding at high temperatures, inspect the mattress for mold, and treat upholstery with a cleaning solution. In the bathroom, maintain cleanliness, scrub grouting, and use vinegar and bleach mixtures to combat mold. In the kitchen, clean and treat cupboards, dispose of infected items, and use natural odor absorbers like charcoal or boiled lemons.


Musty odours are often associated with stale, mouldy, damp, or stuffy conditions, commonly noticed when retrieving supposedly fresh clothes from the dryer or entering specific spaces like basements.

This unpleasant scent, described as "musty," serves a crucial purpose in alerting humans to potential dangers. Research indicates that individuals unable to smell are at least three times more likely to have experienced hazardous events than those with intact olfactory capabilities.

While humans possess a keen sense of smell, our ability to detect odours in the air varies. Some people can notice mouldy or musty smells in dry areas, while others may not see odours even in visibly damp and mouldy places. Additionally, we cannot smell truly hazardous air pollutants such as carbon monoxide.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emphasises that relying on odour as a test for indoor air quality is unreliable. If mould is visible or can be smelled, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns of potential health risks due to mould and dampness.

Dealing with musty smells in the home and on clothes can be frustrating, especially considering efforts to maintain cleanliness. The presence of a musty smell may indicate hidden mould or mildew, making it more than just an unpleasant experience.

The positive aspect is that you can eliminate musty smells from your home, clothes, and life. To address this issue, it's essential to identify the source of the musty odour, take appropriate actions to eliminate it, and, crucially, implement measures to prevent its return.

So, let's see how that can be done.


A damaged wall due to high moisture content


Why is There a Musty Smell in My Home?

Musty odours in your home or clothing often indicate the presence of mould or mildew. These unpleasant smells are most commonly found in undisturbed places like basements and closets or in areas with high moisture levels, such as bathrooms.

While poor ventilation and excess moisture and humidity can contribute to the musty smell, they are usually not the main culprits.

Although the term "musty" might evoke images of old libraries or attics, mould and mildew can thrive in modern homes as well. Mould and mildew growth requires mould spores, a suitable surface, warmth, darkness, oxygen, and moisture.

Moisture is particularly problematic, as it serves as a catalyst for mould growth when combined with other environmental factors like condensation or leaking water.

As mould develops, it releases microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs), contributing to the musty odour. Unlike man-made volatile organic compounds (VOCs), MVOCs are naturally occurring and have a low odour threshold, making them easily detectable with a strong odour. Mould and mildew can produce various MVOCs, and some of these compounds may pose health risks.


A humidifier being used in a room with damp


How do you remove damp smells from your house?

First, Identify the Cause Behind These Smells

Scrutinize your house to identify the source of the smell. Dispose of furniture or materials if they are severely damaged. If the smell is from a leaky pipe or a mouldy bathroom ceiling, clean those areas and consider hiring a professional to check for any serious underlying issues.

Removal is What You Should Do Next

Get rid of contaminated items and leave the room if there's a chance the damp could spread to your other belongings.

The Rooms Must be Well-Ventilated

Damp likes closed spaces. Open a window to let the room breathe and dry. To eliminate musty odours in your cupboard or other areas, make sure to air them out before addressing the issue.

Water-Spray and Bleach Spray is a Good Idea

Clean damp areas with a cloth and a bleach solution (1 part bleach to 3 parts water). For tough mildew and mould, let the mixture sit for a few minutes before wiping with damp cloth.

Complete Dry Each Area of the House

Dry the cleaned surfaces with a cloth and towel. Keep the windows open or use a dehumidifier to promote ventilation.


A surveyor surveying a house

How Can You Remove Damp Smells from the Bedroom?

  1. Wash all bedding, pillows, and duvet at 60 degrees with regular detergent and a cup of white vinegar. Consider tumble drying.

  2. Check the mattress and bed frame for mould; clean with water and bleach spray or industrial deodorizer. Let it air and dry.

  3. Mix laundry detergent, white vinegar, and water in a spray bottle. Treat upholstery (curtains, carpets, mattresses). Open the windows and let it dry for a few hours.

  4. Clean windowsills with a brush dipped in bleach and warm water to remove mildew or mould.


A wall having a rising damp issue

What kills the smell of damp?

Proper ventilation is critical to eliminating the smell of damp. Use dehumidifiers or open windows to improve air circulation and reduce moisture.

How do you get rid of a smell from a damp wall?

Clean the damp wall with a mixture of water and vinegar, or use specialised mould and mildew cleaners. Ensure proper ventilation to aid drying and prevent future damp.

What products remove the damp smell?

Products like activated charcoal, baking soda, or commercial deodourizers can absorb and neutralise damp odours. Additionally, using moisture absorbers or dehumidifiers helps eliminate the root cause of the smell.

How do you sort out the damp house smells then?

Address the source of damp by fixing leaks or improving ventilation. Clean affected areas with mould-killing solutions, use odour-absorbing products and maintain a dry environment to eliminate and prevent damp smells.

Table of Contents

Picture of Sam Fitzgerald – CSRT Damp Surveyor

Sam Fitzgerald – CSRT Damp Surveyor

Author – CSRT Damp Surveyor
Sam is a highly qualified and seasoned damp surveyor with over ten years of specialised experience. With a strong academic foundation in building surveying and numerous professional certifications, Sam has established himself as an authority in the field of damp diagnosis and remediation.

At Damp Surveyors Ltd, Sam applies his extensive knowledge to help homeowners across the UK address and solve their damp issues effectively. His approach combines cutting-edge techniques with a commitment to honest, client-focused service, ensuring that every survey and recommendation is tailored to the specific needs of the property.

As a thought leader, Sam’s insights into damp prevention and treatment have been featured in industry publications, underscoring his role as a trusted expert dedicated to maintaining the integrity and comfort of your home.

Testing device for measuring dampness in a house


At Damp Surveyors Ltd, we stand out as your premier choice for damp survey services in the UK. Our commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction sets us apart. Here’s why you should choose us:

  • Exclusive 3 Free Quotes: We offer a one-of-a-kind optional service where you not only get our top-notch damp survey but also receive 3 free quotes from vetted local companies, giving you peace of mind by saving you thousands on getting the most competitive quotes, and also time researching and contacting other reputable companies.
  • Knowledge and Experience: We provide unmatched knowledge to every survey we conduct thanks to our team of seasoned professionals and years of industry experience. This guarantees accurate assessments and practical solutions.
  • Nationwide Coverage: Whether you’re in a bustling city or a rural area, our services extend across the UK, making us accessible wherever your property is located. Choose us for nationwide reliability and excellence.

Choose Damp Surveyors Ltd as your reliable partner for all-inclusive survey needs. Our top concerns are the health and safety of your property, and we are committed to providing outcomes you can trust.

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