How to Get Rid of the Musty Smell in Your Basement in 6 Simple Steps

If you have a musty smell in your basement, it can be both unpleasant and potentially harmful to your health. A musty smell is usually a sign of excess moisture or mold growth, which can cause respiratory problems, allergies, and other health issues. Moreover, in addition to being a health hazard, a musty smell can also be a nuisance, making your basement an unwelcoming space. The smell would, of course, deter you from going down to it for storage, keep you from doing your laundry if it's down there, and just, in general, keep you from utilizing a space in your home, which we never want. Don't worry, we can help you get rid of the musty smell and make your basement a fresh and inviting space again. In this article, we will provide you with six simple steps to eliminate the musty smell in your basement and prevent it from coming back. We will also include frequently asked questions that we receive and that you may be wondering about. Check it all out below!


Step 1: Identify the Cause of the Musty Smell

The first step to getting rid of the musty smell in your basement is to identify the root cause. The most common cause of a musty smell in basements is excess moisture. Moisture can seep into your basement from the ground, walls, or ceiling, especially if your basement is not properly sealed (another thing we will be talking about with you soon and can help with). A musty smell can also be a sign of mold or mildew growth.

To determine the cause of the musty smell, you can do a visual inspection of your basement. Look for any signs of water damage, such as damp spots on the walls or ceiling, water stains, or puddles on the floor. Check for any cracks or gaps in the walls, floors, or ceiling that may be allowing moisture to seep in. Also, don’t forget to use your nose and sniff out the possible area or culprit of your stench. If you do see any signs of mold or mildew growth, it is important to address this issue as soon as possible, as mold can be a health hazard. Call EcoSpect, let us know that this is what you are dealing with, and we will walk you through the next steps to take.


Step 2: Clean and Declutter Your Basement

Once you have identified the cause of the musty smell, the next step is to clean and declutter your basement. Remove any items that are damp, wet, or moldy, as they can contribute to the musty smell. If it is warm enough outside, these items can be placed outdoors to dry and air out. We can help you to determine what is salvageable and what could potentially pose future threats to your home if you put them back inside.

Use a vacuum cleaner or a broom to sweep away any dust, dirt, or debris from the floors, walls, and ceilings. We recommend that you wear a mask while doing so, so as to not inhale any potentially harmful mold, mold spores, or mildew.

You can also use a damp cloth or mop to clean any surfaces that may be harboring mold or mildew. Again, be sure to wear gloves and a mask when cleaning to avoid exposure to mold spores. If you have a carpet in your basement, it is important to clean it thoroughly, as carpets can trap moisture and mold spores. You can do so by renting an industrial carpet cleaner, airing out your space, using various carpet cleaning products, and more. We can help you make a plan of action for this step, as well. You may also want to consider replacing your carpet with a moisture-resistant flooring material, such as vinyl or tile.


Step 3: Improve Ventilation

Improving existing ventilation is an effective way to get rid of the musty smell in your basement. Open all of your windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate in your basement. You may also choose to use a fan to increase air circulation. If your basement does not have any windows or vents, this could also have added to your initial problem of excess moisture. You may want to consider installing them, a sump pump system, or a dehumidification system to improve ventilation.

At EcoSpect, we specialize in dehumidifiers and dehumidification systems. A dehumidifier works to help reduce humidity levels in your basement, which can prevent mold and mildew growth overall. We offer a variety of options that we tailor to your needs and will walk you through how to choose what will best work for you and your space.


Step 4: Seal Any Cracks or Leaks

Sealing any cracks or leaks in your basement can prevent excess moisture from seeping in and causing a musty smell. Check your basement for any cracks or gaps in the walls, floors, or ceiling. To ensure that these cracks or leaks are sealed fully and properly, call EcoSpect so that we can come assess the full spectrum of the crack and make sure that it is remedied properly.

You may also want to further consider waterproofing your basement to prevent water from seeping in. This is another service that we provide and are highly trained and professional in. We are proud to bring over two decades of experience in waterproofing basements to the table and are able to help you with any project. When we seal your cracks and leaks, we will be able to provide you with our best professional recommendations on how to avoid these things in the future and how to do so with basement waterproofing.

Also, if you already have a sump pump in your basement, be sure to check it regularly to ensure that it is working properly. A sump pump is designed to pump out any water that may accumulate in your basement, but if it is not functioning correctly, water can build up and cause musty odors. Sump pumps are another one of our specialties and we can help with installation, maintenance, and any general questions that you may have about them. Don’t hesitate to reach out today.


Step 5: Use Odor Absorbers

To get rid of the musty smell in your basement, you can use odor absorbers like baking soda, charcoal, or air purifiers. Baking soda can absorb moisture and eliminate odors. Place bowls of baking soda around your basement and replace them every few days to weeks, depending on how saturated your basement is. Charcoal has similar properties and can be used in the same way. Air purifiers are also designed to help remove musty odors and improve the air quality in your basement. At the same time, these air purifiers help with allergens and asthma aggravation, as well.

Another effective odor absorbent is vinegar. You can mix vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use it to clean surfaces in your basement. Vinegar has antimicrobial properties and can help kill mold and mildew, which can contribute to the musty smell. If you choose to do this, make sure that you are still allowing for proper ventilation through windows and doors so that your water/vinegar mixture dries.


Step 6: Monitor and Maintain

The final step to getting rid of the musty smell in your basement is to monitor and maintain it. Check your basement regularly for any signs of further or returned moisture or mold growth. Keep your basement clean and decluttered, and use a dehumidifier to maintain proper humidity levels. By taking these simple steps, you can prevent the musty smell from returning and enjoy a fresh and inviting basement.

It is important to note that if you find you have a severe mold or mildew problem in your basement, you should call EcoSpect immediately. This is our area of expertise, and we are confident that we will be able to identify and remove mold and mildew, remedy your situation, and take steps to prevent them from coming back. With all of our customers, we also have a commitment to your project. We will set up a timeline for you in which we will come back to your home to recheck that any mold or mildew hasn’t returned.


Additional Tips


A musty smell in your basement can be a sign of excess moisture or mold growth, but it doesn't have to be a permanent problem. By following these 6 simple steps, you can get rid of the musty smell and prevent it from coming back. Remember to identify the cause of the musty smell, clean and declutter your basement, improve ventilation, seal any cracks or leaks, use odor absorbers, and monitor and maintain your basement. With these tips, you can enjoy a fresh and inviting basement that is free from musty odors. For any further questions or information on cleaning your musty basement, give EcoSpect a call today!