Remove foul ‘musty smells’ from your home with ‘effective’ methods

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There’s nothing worse than musty odours, and as disgusting as they smell, it’s not good for you to breathe in either. There are several things that can cause a musty-smelling home, ranging to include something as mild as stale air in an older home that’s been closed for a while, to more serious issues, like mould in the walls. Mould or mildew in the walls is the most serious cause of musty smells in houses. If no cleaning methods work to remove the smell, this might be why. Cleaning experts at Cleanipedia have shared their top tips on how to remove musty smells from homes.

1. Local the source of the musty smell

If it’s a more localised smell, homeowners should be able to find the source of it with enough sniffing around. The experts said: “If there’s a specific area in the home or carpet that smells musty, it could be as simple as a wet cloth which has fallen behind the bed and developed mould, or something under the floorboards. 

“If the smell is more general, for example if your home is an old house that smells musty after rain, it could be something more complex like black damp or a leak.” In this case, ask a specialist for help identifying and solving the problem.

2. Open up all windows and doors to let the fresh air in

Once homeowners have determined that their house smells musty but no mould or structural damp is causing the issue, try opening several doors and windows to increase air flow (as long as it’s safe to do so). 

The cleaning pros said: “This is the first and easiest step you can take to air a house that smells musty and humid.

“Sometimes this odour can just be caused by dust and lack of ventilation, especially when your house smells musty after a vacation. So let the fresh air pour in, and open up all curtains and blinds, to let in the daylight! Don’t forget to open up shut-in spaces like cupboards, cabinets, and closets.”

3. Use baking soda to help absorb smells

Baking soda, which is not to be confused with baking powder, is an extremely useful cleaning agent.

It can be used to get rid of dozens of common household smells. The experts said: “You can certainly use bicarbonate of soda to effectively remove smells – even just leaving an open container of it in a room will help neutralise odours overnight.

“For smaller enclosed areas (closets, cupboards, etc.), setting out a small plate of baking soda for up to 24 hours can help absorb moisture and damp smells.”

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The experts also noted that baking soda can be used to remove odours from drains and shoes. They said: “Pour a few tablespoons of baking soda straight into a drain and run the hot tap over it for a few minutes. This can help breakup and disperse small, smelly blockages.

“To get rid of the smell from shoes, sprinkle a bit of baking soda into them. This generally works just as well as commercial odour-removing products.

“Just let the baking soda do its job overnight and then empty it out in the morning. Be careful if you have sensitive skin, though, because baking soda can irritate it.”

4. Use lemons as a natural air freshener

Lemon is the most common scent used in cleaning products and is even an effective cleaning agent.

The cleaning pros advised: “For an easy and natural air freshener, boil lemon peels in a pan of water. 

“Once the lemony fragrance is released, remove the pan from the kitchen (remember to turn the stove off) and set it down in the area of your home which you want to air out, being careful to place the pan on a suitable surface. 

“A fan can circulate the fragrance around the room, and you can also fill a spray bottle with the warm lemony water (once it’s cooled a bit) and spritz it around the room for it to be effective.”

5. Give musty-smelling clothes a fresh, fragranced wash

If your wardrobe smells musty, chances are this odour will have transferred to the clothes you have hanging up in it. 

So even after households have got rid of this musty smell, it could linger on fabrics. 

The experts said: “But don’t worry — this problem is easily cleared up in a quick washing machine cycle, with an extra-lovely fragrance boost from the Comfort Perfume Deluxe range.”

6. Turn on all ventilation fans or bring in electric fans, if necessary

Modern bathrooms and kitchens often have ventilation fans which you can turn on to air out smells. 

If a room has no windows or gets little circulation (like an attic or basement), you can always bring in a portable electric fan and run it for a while to get the air moving.

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