How To Remove Musty Smell In Basement

This article is to help you understand why your basement has a musty smell and what you can do to clean it up and prevent it from happening.

Humidity & Mold

Sometimes, humidity or dampness (water vapor) in the air can supply enough moisture for mold growth. Indoor relative humidity should be kept below 60 percent, ideally between 30 percent and 50 percent, if possible. Low humidity may also Black Mold Infodiscourage pests (such as cockroaches) and dust mites. Mold is a type of fungus that consists of small organisms found almost everywhere. They can be black, white, orange, green, or purple. Outdoors, molds play an important role in nature, breaking down dead leaves, plants, and trees. Molds thrive on moisture and reproduce by means of tiny, lightweight spores that travel through the air. You’re exposed to mold every day.
In small amounts, mold spores are usually harmless, but when they land on a damp spot in your home, they can start to grow. When mold is growing on a surface, spores can be released into the air where they can be easily inhaled. If you’re sensitive to mold and inhale a large number of spores, you could experience health problems.

How to Get Rid of Mold

Basements are the perfect environment for damp, musty smells caused by mold and mildew. Removing the musty smell from your basement begins with getting rid of the excess moisture from mold and mildew growing in the crevices of your concrete walls or your drywall.  Below is one natural way to get rid of that musty basement smell, plus some tips on how to prevent musty smells caused my moisture.





  1. Make sure you are wearing gloves and a respirator so you dont breathe in the mold spores. Throw out everything with mold on it that can’t be salvaged, such as old clothes, shoes, boxes, books and papers, fiberglass insulation, or rugs/carpets/soft furnishings.
  2. Use vinegar and baking soda to kill mold and deodorize at the same time.
  3. Sand away the mold and vacuum up the dust using a HEPA filter vacuum.
  4. Pull moisture from the air by using a dehumidifier.
  5. Add a fan to help circulate the air.
  6. Place packets or bowls of activated charcoal in the basement to absorb moisture and foul odors.



How does an electric dehumidifier work?

It draws the air in from the room through a filter and passes it over some cold coils similar to those found in a refrigerator. As the coils are cold the water in the air condenses and drips into a reservoir container. The air is then reheated to room temperature and blown back out of the humidifier. When the container is full a red light comes on for it to be emptied and you pull the reservoir out and empty it into a drain. Another way is to purchase a dehumidifier with an attachment for a hose and place the end of the hose next to a floor drain and the water will exit the unit that way so you will never have to empty it and the unit will never shut off due to a full reservoir.

Picking Out The Right Unit

Dehumidifiers are sized by the total pint of moisture they can absorb within 24 hours, meaning the larger the space you want to humidify, the bigger dehumidifier you’ll want.

For instance, a thirty pint dehumidifier will absorb up to thirty pints of moisture in a day. A thirty pint dehumidifier can absorb less than thirty pints of moisture per day, but not more than thirty pints.

It’s important to know how to size a dehumidifier as you can’t just pick out any dehumidifier like you’d do with other products. If you purchase a dehumidifier smaller than what you need, your space will remain humid and damp while purchasing a dehumidifier bigger than what you need will cost more power and might leave the room too dry or arid. Units are normally rated by square footage, so if you know the square footage of your basement pick out one that is as close as possible to your size.

Other Products and Tips

There are many items on the market that claim to get rid of the musty smell but truly all they do is mask the smell. If you try to just cover up the musty smell the humidity is still there and mold will grow.  If your basement walls are bare concrete you should paint them to seal the concrete and keep moisture from penetrating from the outside.  Check to Proper Gutter Drainage make sure your gutters are clean so when it rains the water runs away from your foundation and make sure downspouts are connected and extended long enough. If your gutters are full of leaves the water will overflow your gutters and run down the side of your house to your foundation and possibly flood your basement depending on the amount of rain but will definitely cause high humidity.  Make sure the dirt around your foundation is high enough so the water runs away from the foundation. If the dirt is level or lower then the rest of your property then water will run down your foundation and cause flooding or high humidity problems.


So what have we learned here today? You want to run a dehumidifier to pull the humidity out of the air so you dont get that musty basement smell and to prevent mold growth. If you already have mold growth you  need to neutralize the mold on the walls and sand it off. Throw away carpet, clothes and boxes that have mold on them. If you are unsure about cleaning up mold contact a professional. Buying a dehumidifier can range anywhere from $150-$400 for a portable unit depending on the size and brand but it will be a lot cheaper in the long run and you can enjoy your basement free of smells and mold. I hope you found my article to be helpful and thank you for visiting my site. If you have any questions or comments contact me at is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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2 comments on “How To Remove Musty Smell In Basement

Really good information on what causes mold in the basement, why it is dangerous to your health, and natural ways to safely get rid of it. I was a realtor for years and mold could be a real problem in some homes. I always hated seeing mold because I knew that when the potential buyer saw it, they would not want to buy the home. And who could blame them? I had never heard of using vinegar and baking soda to remove it, and deodorize. I will inform my friends in the business, and keep your solution in mind for my own uses. Thank you for sharing, Tom


I can definitely see how it could detour potential buyers and that’s why we need to be preventative. Thank you for your thoughts Tom.


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