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How to Get Rid of That Musty Smell in Your Basement

unfinished basement with cinder block walls
Real Twin Photos

Basements come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from luxurious lounges to spooky dungeons. Regardless of which end of the spectrum yours is on, sometimes they just get that musty basement smell. Luckily, if your basement is getting a bit of that stale funk, we have the solution. Here are our tips and tricks if you have a musty basement smell.

Related: 10 Ways to Prevent Basement Floods Before They Start


Unfinished basement with musty basement smell
Curtis Adams via Pexels

Identify the Problem

That smell is likely from mold or mildew, caused by moisture. The first thing you’ll need to do is find said moisture. Moisture issues can range anywhere from slight dampness to full on flood damage. Hopefully, your issue isn’t an impromptu underground swimming pool. If water is pooling, you’ll want to ensure that it has an unimpeded egress out. To do this, you’ll need to ensure that any and all drains are not clogged. If your basement has a sump pump, ensure that it is in working order and that water can flow towards it.

Related: 20 Easy Ways to Brighten Up a Dark Basement

Person cleaning a hard surface with a hand-held spray bottle
Ron Lack via Pexels

Repairs and Cleaning

Once you’ve found the source and area where moisture has creeped in, you’ll need to fix any damage caused. In extreme cases you’ll need to replace any rot, but mostly it’s a matter of cleaning and drying. Using a 50/50 mixture of part white vinegar and part water is a cheap and effective method of cleaning any hard surfaces. This mix will also help in deodorizing the space. For fabrics, such as carpet and upholstered furniture that has been affected by moisture, consider renting a steam cleaner to give them a deep cleaning.

Check Out: 10-Minute Cleaning Routines: How to Clean a House Fast

drainage pips sticking out of a foundation
Luca Barth via Pexels

Preventing Access

Once you’ve handled any water that has made it inside, you’ll want to prevent any more from getting in. The most common cause of this is the pooling of groundwater around the foundation of your home. There are various methods of doing so, all of which will require some work. Installing weeping tile around your foundation will allow any stagnant water to flow away from your home.

Read More: 20 Fast and Easy House Cleaning Hacks Everyone Should Know


Candle for getting rid of musty basement smell
lil artsy via Pexels

Tackling the Smell

When your goal is getting rid of that musty smell, it is important to know the cause. Mold and mildew are typically the reason for that smell, but what is the reason you have mold and mildew? Humidity: the moisture level in the air is what controls that growth. Luckily, there’s no shortage of methods to control humidity. Placing a bowl of cat litter in your basement is the cheapest and easiest of the methods. For those that want more control, there are electric dehumidifiers that will give you just that. As well, there are a myriad of products that can be found at your local hardware store that can work wonders. Mildew grows and thrives in atmospheres with moisture above 60 per cent, so you will want to get it below that.

Related: Our Holiday Stovetop Potpourri Recipe Smells Like Christmas Morning

thermostat for monitoring temperature and humidity
Erick Mclean via Pexels


Finally, you’ll want to keep an eye on your basement. Once or twice a month you should be checking your basement’s humidity level and for signs of water. Consider installing a humidity sensor for ease of use. The ideal humidity levels for your basement are between 30 per cent and 50 per cent. Now, whether your basement is set up for entertaining or just storing Halloween decorations, you won’t have to worry about that musty smell every time you go down there.

You Might Also Like: Basement Bedroom Ideas That’ll Make You Forget You’re Underground

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