How To Get Rid Of That Old House Smell

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For many people, the experience of moving into a new home is exhilarating, especially if it is their first time. It’s also worth noting that many first-time homebuyers will soon discover that moving to a new place isn’t all fun.

As an example, if you’re moving into an older, pre-owned property, you’re likely to notice the “old house smell.”

It’s impossible to get rid of the musty odor of an old house, no matter how many candles and air purifiers you place in every corner and outlet.

The key to getting rid of the smell is to figure out what’s causing it in the first place. The first thing to remember is that you should attempt a few things before going to drastic measures.

The scent of an old house may simply be a result of the stale air that accumulated while no one lived in the home. As a result, if you move into a house and notice that it has an odd odor, there are a few things you should do.

What Is the Most Common Cause of Old House Smell?


Old House Smell is caused by the buildup of mold and mildew in the home. Mold and mildew are microscopic fungi that thrive in dark, damp areas. They are usually found in old, damp basements.

Mold and mildew are the most common cause of old house smell. If your home smells like a wet basement or attic, the chances are good that it contains some form of mold or mildew.

Mold and mildew grow in dark, moist environments. This includes places such as basements, attics, crawlspaces, and other low-light areas.

If you have a leaky roof, water damage, or any other type of moisture problem, this could lead to the growth of mold and mildew.

If walls are dark with buildup, then it might be time to replace drywall or give the plaster a thorough cleaning.

If you’ve moved into an old house with an unpleasant odor, you can hire a professional cleaning service to help fix the problem, or we have some tips below to help point you in the right direction.

Use Odor Eliminators

Odor eliminators are an excellent way to keep your home fresh and clean. These products work by absorbing odors and eliminating them from your home.

You can find odor eliminators at local hardware stores or online. You can use these products on furniture, carpeting, upholstery, mattresses, clothing, and more.

Odor eliminators come in two forms: carbon filters that trap odor-causing chemicals and pull them out of the air and activated charcoal filters that physically pull the odor particles out of the air at a microscopic level.

They are great to help combat the smell of old houses. Many odor eliminators contain enzymes that break down organic compounds. These enzymes are able to eliminate odors even when they are present in small amounts. 

By capturing odor-causing compounds and removing them from the air, the carbon filter is effective. Pet scents, fish odors, and cigarette smoke are among the more common problems that our solution has helped solve for many people.

There are plug-in filters and standalone filters. Plug-in filters are the most common.

There are also activated charcoal filters. These filters remove odor particles from the air at a microscopic level. They are bamboo charcoal bags and feature a hole so you can hang them around your house’s mustiest spots.

Bags last for several years before needing to be replaced, so you can pick the size that suits your needs. It won’t take long to see whether activated charcoal eliminates the musty odors from your old home.

Air Out the House

Airing out the house is one way to reduce the old house smell. Open windows, get fans going and run ceiling fans to circulate air throughout the house.

Air out the house will help reduce mold and mildew. If stale air is the main cause of your old house smell, opening windows and running fans should do the trick.

It’s simple to ventilate your home. Just open the windows, turn on the fans, and run the ceiling fans to keep the room cool.

It’s a good idea to let as much fresh air into the house as possible. Fans should be directed toward the windows if possible.

Mold and mildew odors can be reduced, as well as stale air is removed from the house. While the odor won’t go away entirely, it will be easier to deal with while you clean up.

The first step in eliminating any unpleasant odor is to open all of the windows and doors in the house.

The sun should be able to shine through any open windows if you don’t have any window treatments blocking it.

As a bonus, sunlight will kill any mold or mildew that may be growing in your home.

As a final step, you should use a dehumidifier to remove water from the air. For people who live in humid areas, this is especially true.

It’s critical that you do everything you can to prevent the growth of mildew and mold, both of which prefer moist environments.

Clean Out the House

I’m sure the last thing you need when moving into a new house is having to tackle cleaning, but it will be worth the effort in the end.

Even if your house is damp and musty, you can do the job quickly if you work hard.

If you want to get rid of mold and mildew, you should start by cleaning the walls of your home. Because mold cleansers can be harsh on an older wall, you should use ordinary disinfectants first.

Grease cleaners and mold removers should also be tried if the above fails.

Use hot water and half a cup of Borax to make your own cleaning solution. After that, add two cups of distilled white vinegar and around 16 ounces of hydrogen peroxide.

This mixture will clean walls, paint, and wallpaper by removing grease, dust, and mildew. Use this solution to clean any walls where you detect a musty odor.

There is no need to worry about the vinegar scent remaining after cleaning.

Cleaning out the air ducts is another option if you’re feeling ambitious. Mold can thrive in air ducts, so if you notice a stench of mold in your home, check the air ducts.

It’s a good idea to contact your local HVAC technicians if you suspect that your air ducts are the source of mold in your home.

Just like cleaning the air ducts in your home, cleaning the garbage disposal is just as crucial. Even if you’ve just moved home and haven’t stored much in the basement, you never know what might be growing on the pipes of your sink.

Make sure nothing appears or smells out of place. If anything isn’t working properly, call in a professional plumber to fix it.

Cleaning out the sink can reveal problems with the plumbing system.

Combat Any Mold

Mold can exacerbate allergies and existing respiratory problems or cause more serious infections.

Cleaning out the house means getting rid of anything that could be causing the problem. This includes items like furniture and carpets. Mold and mildew look similar but require very different treatments.

Mold is the most common source of old house smells and

Black mold is caused by condensation. When warm, moist air comes into contact with a cooler surface, it condenses. Mold will eventually grow.

External walls, in particular, are susceptible to condensation. In many homes, they are the coldest. For lack of airflow, the growth of black mold can be found in places like fissures and window seals.

The bathroom’s high humidity encourages the growth of black mold.

The rapid spread of mold is due to its asexual nature. Millions of mold spores can be produced in the span of many days from just one small hole in the skin.

You also need to clean all areas of your home. Start with cleaning windows it will make the rooms brighter and open them as we’ve said already.

Check for Leaks

Check for leaks in kitchen and bathroom pipes. Water damage can also occur when pipes burst or when toilets overflow.

Even a small leak on your property might lead to mold if it isn’t repaired. Over time this will result in an increase in the amount of moisture in the air.

Leak detection kits are inexpensive and easy to use. They can help identify where leaks are occurring. If you find a leak, contact your local plumbing company immediately. They’ll be able to repair the pipe before the issue becomes worse.

Remove clutter from under sinks to check for leaks. Make sure your sink pipes are not leaking. Mold grows on leaky pipes, and it smells dirty and musty. Repair any leaky pipes, as we’ve said already.

Use tools like a surface thermometer, damp meter, or hygrometer to detect hidden leaky pipes and excess moisture

Search High & Low for the Source

The five main reasons an old house smells are

  • Mold and Mildew
  • Tobacco Smoke
  • Pet Odor
  • Dirty HVAC systems
  • No Ventilation

To get rid of an old house smell, search for the source of the odor using your senses and try to fix any problems that may be causing it.

Poor ventilation, obscurity, and a high level of humidity are all conducive to mold growth.

Chemicals related to mold life cycles, such as Mold Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs), generate a terrible odor.

Pet odors

Dog and cat odors are easier to get rid of when mold is not. When you clean your home often, you can keep pet odor at bay. A lot of the time, you’ll need to clean, dust, mop, vacuum, and wash fabrics like a rug and throw pillows. Also, you should bathe your pets often and brush them often (ideally outside). Brush their teeth at least once a week.

Clean up after your pet’s things, too. This will make your pet’s bed, cage, and toys look new again in no time. This is very important for cats. To keep bad smells at bay, use a litter box that has a cover and a filter to keep the litter from getting dirty. It will make the litter smell less bad if you add baking soda to it.

Keep in mind that fresh air is important. Even in the winter, keep your windows open to keep animal odors from coming into your house.

Cigarette smoke

Smoke is another fragrance found in older homes. To get rid of cigarette odors in your home, you’ll have to work hard.

Smoke sticks to soft fabrics—Wash fabric goods with two cups of vinegar in cold water. If you can’t wash your curtains, take them to the dry cleaner.

Smoke-scented carpets, rugs, or furniture can be deodorized with commercial deodorizers or baking soda. 

Replace the carpet and sanitize the home before bringing in non-smoke scented furnishings. If you can’t remove the carpets, shampoo them.

Vinegar cleans hard surfaces like furniture and walls (unless you have precious furniture).

Clean the Flooring and Upholstery

Cleaning the upholstery and flooring can help eliminate musty mold odors. You can use different cleaning methods depending on the type of upholstery or flooring. For example, vinyl floors can be cleaned easily by vacuuming the area.

Vinyl couches can also be cleaned by wiping them down with a wet cloth. Leather upholstery requires more care because leather tends to dry out quickly. Cleaning leather upholstery involves soaking it in warm water and then scrubbing it with a sponge and soap.

If you’re dealing with wood floors, they can be cleaned with a steam cleaner or a professional steam cleaner.

Before you know it, your house will smell exactly like you want it to.

Old house smell may harm your health

Old house smell may harm your health. Mold can produce toxins that can harm your health, and third-hand smoke can also cause health problems.

Symptoms of an extreme reaction may include disorientation. Molds produce toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and acute liver damage. These toxins can be fatal if they are ingested for too long.

That musty smell can be caused by many factors:

The first thing to do is check for leaks in the roof, plumbing, and electrical systems. These are common places where moisture collects and can lead to mildew growth. Check for a leaky pipe in the bathroom and under the sink in the kitchen.

Follow some of the suggestions we’ve listed above and, if needed, bring in the professionals.

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