Raining outside a house

Why Does My House Smell Damp When It Rains?

Why Does My House Smell Damp When It Rains?


Key Takeaways

Rain-Related Odors: Rain can bring various unpleasant odors to your home, such as the smell of sewage or urine.

Persistent Damp Odor: A persistent damp odor during rain indicates a more significant issue, such as the presence of mold, mildew, or dampness.

Causes of Damp Smells: Mould can one of the biggest cause as it thrives in humid conditions; early detection and addressing root causes are crucial. Lingering odors may also result from accumulated dirt, requiring deep cleaning. Humidity above 60% fosters mold growth and unpleasant odors; fresh air and ventilation help.

Getting Rid of Musty Smells: Identify the source of the smell and take swift action, including cleaning and addressing external leaks. Enhance ventilation in areas like the kitchen and bathrooms. Use degreasers for deep cleaning to eliminate dirt buildup. Allow proper air circulation during clothes drying to prevent stale odors. Maintain humidity levels below 60% to prevent mold growth.


It's not uncommon for various unpleasant odours to make an unwelcome appearance in your living space after a heavy downpour.

Rain can leave your home with a variety of unpleasant odours, ranging from the lingering smell of sewage to the unmistakable whiff of urine.

If, on the other hand, you notice a persistent damp odour when it rains, it's a clear indication of a more significant problem—mould, mildew, and damp lurking within your property.

We understand the annoyance of these damp odours at Damp Surveyors Ltd., which is why we provide a comprehensive damp survey service that will clearly outline what's causing bad damp smells in your house.

Our damp experts are equipped not only to identify the root cause of the damp smell after rain but also to completely eliminate it. Their knowledge is available to you around the clock, every day of the year.

Meanwhile, are you still curious about the source of that lingering damp odour? Continue reading to learn about the potential culprits.


Damp smell in a house


What is the Cause Behind this Smell?

High humidity can lead to mould growth, and it's surprising how it can thrive in unexpected spots, like inside cupboards.

The culprit behind that unpleasant odour is compromised air quality.

Issues like leaky roofs, walls, and condensation from everyday activities such as cooking, showering, and drying clothes, especially in poorly ventilated areas, can foster indoor mould growth.

More causes are discussed below:


A sudden musty smell invading your house, especially during winter, often points to the unwelcome presence of mould and mildew. These intruders thrive in humid conditions, leaving dark discolourations on walls, furnishings, and carpets as their calling cards.

Fortunately, tackling black mould need not be a daunting task if caught early. Yet, it's crucial to understand that merely eradicating it won't suffice—unless you address the root cause, be prepared for a comeback. A practical solution could be investing in a dehumidifier or simply letting some fresh air flow in through open windows.

It should be noted that the mould issue in the home isn't just an aesthetic concern. There's a growing worry about its potential impact on health, not to mention the unpleasant sights and smells it brings.

The good news is that early signs of mould are less likely to pose health risks and are more manageable. Acting promptly not only ensures your well-being but also protects your carefully curated interiors. Properly treating mould is all about preserving the freshness of your decor for the long haul.

If you've spotted mould, there are practical ways to handle it. Before trying anything drastic, check if your wallpaper or furniture is washable. A little warm, soapy water on a small patch can be a revealing test. Consulting the manufacturer is wise to avoid unintentional damage. Once you've got the green light, a home remedy involving vinegar is a good starting point. Apply it to the mould, then rinse with hot water, avoiding overly vigorous scrubbing.

For stubborn patches, heavy-duty mould and mildew cleaners from hardware stores come in handy. These can effectively eliminate mould from walls, windows, or bath areas. Treating mould at the first signs is critical to preventing escalation. Alongside dealing with existing mould, proper ventilation is crucial to keep it from making a return appearance.

For those in need of a reliable solution, mould remover promises swift stain removal, offering a quick and effective remedy to keep your living spaces fresh and mould-free.

Dust and Grime

If you're puzzled by persistent musty smells at home but can't spot any mould sources, don't worry – the culprit might be less ominous than you think. These lingering odours often stem from accumulated dirt and grime. The solution? A deep cleaning mission.

The good news is that maintaining a fresh home doesn't have to be an uphill battle. A variety of cleaning tips is at your disposal, making household upkeep a breeze.

But let's get real – while air fresheners can temporarily mask the unpleasant aroma, they won't nix the root cause. Get degreasers. Engineered to tackle dirt buildup, including stubborn grease and oil, it doesn’t just cover up the issue but gets down to the details, leaving your home smelling as fresh as a daisy.

Improperly Dried Clothing

Drying clothes in a hurry may seem like a time-saver, but there's a downside to the quick-dry approach. It is suggested to give your clothes some space to breathe. When you cram your clothes into the closet, the friction, lint balls, and wrinkles can wear them down faster.

Moreover, the lack of proper air circulation between your items might lead to an unwanted stale or musty odour lingering on your clothes. So, it's worth considering a bit of patience in the drying process to keep your clothes fresh and in good shape.

High Home Humidity

Determining the right humidity level for your house during winter can pose a challenge. Yet, surpassing the 60% humidity mark can lock in unpleasant odours, leaving your home with a lingering musty, damp smell.

Furthermore, elevated humidity isn't just about the nose – it opens the door to mould and mildew growth, not only intensifying the odour but also posing a health risk.

Fortunately, tackling high humidity doesn't always require complex solutions. A simple remedy involves embracing the fresh air – just crack open those windows for around 30 minutes each morning after waking up. It's a straightforward way to bid farewell to excess humidity and welcome a more pleasant atmosphere into your home.

Lack of ventilation 

In the colder months, our habit of keeping windows open and doors shut tight to ward off the winter chill inadvertently hampers the airflow in our homes. This lack of ventilation creates a breeding ground for issues like lingering odours and excess moisture, which can lead to more severe problems like mould.

Maintaining good ventilation remains the simplest and most effective defence against mould, even during winter. A straightforward practice is recommended, which is the regular opening of windows to allow fresh air to circulate within our living spaces.

Additionally, it is essential to ensure that fans and ventilation systems are in proper working condition and that windows and doors are adequately sealed to prevent the entry of excess moisture. This combination of practical measures can go a long way in fostering a healthier living environment, especially when the weather outside is less inviting.

Old Carpets and Rugs

Musty smells in homes often originate from carpets and rugs that are either old or haven't been adequately cleaned. While the routine use of a vacuum may seem sufficient for freshness, it falls short of the benefits of the occasional deep cleaning that carpets genuinely need.

A simple routine is recommended, which is to vacuum and use cleaning sprays on your carpets weekly and every three months; consider a thorough cleaning with a carpet cleaning machine. This precaution helps prevent soaking and potential damage to your carpet.

Also, do not hesitate to vacuum more frequently, especially for pet owners. Pets can introduce germs and bacteria from the outside, warranting an increase in your vacuuming frequency. For those with furry friends, a proactive approach is the key.

Investing in the best vacuum for pet hair within your budget can significantly reduce pet dander and lingering smells.


Dampness in a house


How to Get Rid of Musty Damp Smells?

Identifying the origin of that musty smell is the first step toward banishing it from your home. Once you've pinpointed the source of odor, take swift action. For localized culprits like plants, garbage cans, or laundry, give them a thorough cleaning. Address any external leaks promptly and ensure that water-damaged materials are cleaned, removed, or replaced.

Let's face it: moisture is often the culprit behind those lingering musty house odours. For areas like the kitchen, laundry room, or bathrooms, enhancing ventilation is the key. In our bathrooms, we've found that using ventilation fans equipped with timers does the trick. Flip the switch when the shower starts, and it automatically shuts off the heat, keeping the air fresh and dry.

Consider this: for stove vents and whole-house vacuums, it's not just about circulating air through a filter. Ideally, they should vent outside. This simple adjustment can make a significant difference in keeping your living spaces free from that unwelcome, musty scent.


House owner stressed due to bad damp smell in the house

What if there’s No Mould? Will it still smell?

If your home has a musty smell, don't jump to conclusions about mould and mildew just yet. Sometimes, it's not about hidden problems but rather a lack of fresh air and a collection of dust and grime.

Take a closer look—scan deep corners of rooms and peek behind furniture. If you're in the clear of mould and damp, a simple remedy might be a good old spring clean. Open those windows, let the fresh air in, and watch that musty odour make a swift exit.


Is Musty Smell During Rains Harmful for Health? 

The impact of a musty smell on your health hinges on its root cause. When damp and mould are behind the odour, there's a possibility of adverse health effects as you inhale spores.

Should you detect a musty odor or scent in your living space and notice symptoms like itchy eyes, wheezing, or a stuffy nose, seeking medical assistance is a wise move—significantly if these discomforts ease after exposure to fresher air.


Mould and fungus in house


Various Types of Damp that Can Cause a House to Smell Musty

Penetrating Damp

Penetrating damp can be a persistent issue, causing water to seep from the exterior walls to the interior during heavy rainfall. The culprits behind this problem are often properties lacking proper insulation or a mistakenly filled cavity, leaky gutters, cracked brickwork, damaged windows, burst pipes, leaking well, faulty plumbing, or broken roof tiles.

Recognizing the signs, such as damp patches, peeling wallpaper, droplets, blistered plastering, mould, and a damp odour, is crucial. However, as these symptoms can overlap with other types of damp, distinguishing between them can be challenging.

If you're experiencing any of these indicators, seeking professional help is imperative. Bringing in an expert to diagnose the specific type of damp and its root because it is essential for effective repairs and eliminating the lingering odour. Ignoring the issue could lead to more significant problems, including extensive mould growth, structural issues, and decay.

Rising Damp

Moving rising damp occurs when moisture from the ground ascends through the walls due to the absence of a Damp Proof Course (DPC) or a faulty one. This problem tends to exacerbate during heavy rains when the ground is saturated with moisture.

Recognizing rising damp involves observing "tide marks" of salt on internal walls, peeling and stained wallpaper, blistering paint, dark, damp patches, discoloured plaster, and a damp odour.

If you suspect rising damp , it's recommended to call in damp professionals for a thorough survey. Swift action, such as repairing or replacing the faulty DPC, is crucial to prevent further damage.


Condensation, on the other hand, occurs when moist air meets cold surfaces, resulting in water droplets on windows and walls. This type of damp is particularly prevalent during cold, wet weather when we tend to keep our windows closed, trapping warm, moist and humid air inside. Recognizing condensation is straightforward – water collecting on surfaces, peeling wallpaper, and the unwelcome growth of mould.

Addressing condensation involves practical steps. Ventilating the bathroom and kitchen during activities like washing and cooking, drying clothes outdoors, regularly opening windows, and maintaining humidity levels below 60% with a dehumidifier are effective preventive measures. When condensation is spotted, simply opening windows to allow for proper ventilation can go a long way in mitigating the issue.


Testing device for measuring dampness in a house


Clean Your Home

To eliminate musty odours, now is the perfect opportunity to declutter your space. Clearing out unnecessary items creates open spaces, fostering improved air circulation. Those neglected corners, obscured by clutter, become breeding grounds for dust, mould and mildew.

Give your carpets a thorough, deep clean, and if stains persist, consider opting for replacement. Transitioning to hard flooring, such as tile, linoleum, hardwood, or bamboo, not only facilitates easier cleaning but also helps maintain a consistently fresh-smelling home.

Don't overlook the tops of your cabinets – they might be contributors to the lingering odours. While we diligently clean the surfaces we see daily, the upper areas of cabinets often escape our attention. A quick check and clean-up there could make a significant difference in banishing unwanted smells.


How do I get rid of the musty smell in my house after it rains?

To eliminate the musty smell in your house after it rains, it's crucial to address moisture issues. Ensure proper ventilation by opening windows and using fans to promote air circulation. Identify and fix any leaks in the roof, walls, or windows to prevent water from entering your home. Additionally, use dehumidifiers to reduce indoor humidity levels and consider placing moisture-absorbing materials, like charcoal or silica gel, in damp areas.

Why does my room smells damp when it rains?

The smell in your house during rain could be attributed to the presence of mould or mildew, which thrive in damp conditions. To tackle this issue, inspect your home for water leaks and promptly repair them. Clean and disinfect areas prone to moisture, such as basements and bathrooms, using mould-killing solutions. Regularly clean and dry surfaces susceptible to mould growth, such as shower curtains, carpets, and window sills, to prevent the development of musty odours.

How do I get rid of the wet, damp smell in my house?

To eliminate the wet, damp smell in your house, focus on reducing excess moisture. Use dehumidifiers to maintain optimal humidity levels, typically between 30-50%. Ensure proper ventilation by using exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens. Thoroughly dry wet or damp items promptly, including clothes, towels, and carpets. Consider using moisture-absorbing products like desiccants or placing bowls of baking soda in areas prone to damp.

How do I find the source of a musty smell in my house?

Finding the source of a musty smell in your house involves a systematic approach. Begin by inspecting common areas prone to moisture, such as basements, crawl spaces, and bathrooms. Check for water leaks in pipes, roofs, or windows and address any issues you find. Examine ventilation systems, air conditioning units, and ductwork for mould or mildew growth. Clean and disinfect these areas as needed. If the smell persists, consider consulting with professionals, such as home inspectors or mould remediation specialists, to identify and address hidden sources of moisture and musty odours.

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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